Monday, December 26, 2011

ad hoc intergovernmental report, 1977

zoning map in ad hoc report, 1977
It turns out that the base map for the IAC/RCO map shown in the previous post comes from a report entitled 'Kah Tai Lagoon - a Summary Report from the ad hoc Intergovernmental Advisory Committee' completed in February 1977 by City, County, Park and Port representatives. The report was the result of an effort to solve the problem of what to do with Kah Tai.

Also included in the ad hoc report is an ownership map of lands at Kah Tai. Note the varied ownership symbols for the land that is claimed by the Port, all land between the lagoon's south shore and Sims Way.  Click on maps to enlarge.
ownership map in ad hoc report, 1977

Friday, December 23, 2011

a piece of the puzzle

Map from RCO file for Kah Tai grant #81-043.
If the Port never intended to include all of its Kah Tai land in the park created with LWCF funds in 1981, what is this map (click to enlarge) doing in the official 81-043 grant application files at the State Recreation and Conservation Office?

The map highlights two things. One is zoning, showing that all public land in the park boundary is zoned P-1, Public Use, as it has been in every City Comprehensive Plan since 1968. And the second thing it shows is ALL the land at Kah Tai that was owned and/or controlled by the Port at the time of park creation.

That oddly shaped yellow parcel on the west is the property donated by HJ Carroll 'for park purposes only' and held by the Port in retroactive waiver from 1977 until it was included in the park as a part of a required local match for the 1980 application process. And the big yellow parcel to the south of the lagoon? Why, that's all that dredge-spoil-created uplands that the Port now claims it never intended to include in the park. You know, the non-lagoon, non-marsh part where people can walk with their families and their dogs, and bicycle, and sit peacefully to enjoy nature writ relatively large for an urban area. The part with the play meadow, and the bathroom and shelter built by volunteers in 1985. The part of the park that isn't supposed to be a park.

So, could someone explain why this map would be prominent in RCO records for the park acquisition grant if it wasn't intended to show ALL the Port holdings to be included in the park? Why would a map be in the official records while highlighting holdings that were included and holdings that were excluded - and make NO differentiation?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Building a shelter, 2011 edition

Volunteers frame the picnic shelter, 1985. 
The City Council's Resolution (see previous post) is an important step in the process of sheltering Kah Tai Lagoon Nature Park from development. An article in Wednesday's Leader gives a brief overview. A couple of very appropriate recent letters (here and here) to the Leader editor are at the 2011 Letters link above but you might enjoy the comments to the letters online. In true Port Townsend fashion, there are as many opinions as there are citizens. And some of those opinions are actually based on facts!

The Comprehensive Plan Amendment for Kah Tai, first proposed in late February 2011, is still working its way through the process at the City. Next up in that process is the Planning Commission hearing, currently scheduled for 12 January 2012. Stay tuned for more information. This is an important opportunity to be heard, as we are each allowed 3 minutes to share our opinions with the Planning Commission.

Also on the Planning Commission agenda is the draft update to the Parks Functional Plan. You can find more information about this important document as well as the amendment process at links on the lower right of the City's website.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

that says it all

From the City Council web documents:

5 December 2011


You can download the full document here: (

Note that the full document is very large and a bit unwieldy to download, but it is well worth reading. If you'd like a slimmed-down version, send an email.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Kah Tai boundary, 2011 edition

Kah Tai boundary, November 2011
Posted around the perimeter of Kah Tai  Lagoon Nature Park are notices about the upcoming Planning Commission hearing (12 January 2012 at last report) on some important Comprehensive Plan amendments.  The draft update to the Parks Functional Plan and proposed amendments related to the protection of the Park are being evaluated for forwarding to the City Council.

Included in that posted information is a small grayscale map with a simple legend: Kah Tai Nature Park and a northern compass point (click on map to enlarge).  The map boundary looks very much like the boundary drawn in 1984 (see below, November 13 post). A few parcels on the northern boundary are finally sorted out ( the 1984 map was drawn to accompany an effort to sort out those errant northern parcels) and a piece or two of right-of-way have been added in. The southern boundary has not changed. It has taken 27+ years to legitimize the hand-drawn 1984 boundary. The process was made necessary by incomplete recording to title at the close of the grant followed by the slow metamorphosis of a minority opinion into urban myth. Not everyone wanted the Park in 1981, but a majority of citizens did, and a majority of City Council and Port Commissioners voted it into being. That's how democracy works. You don't get to re-invent an outcome because you don't like it.

Copies of the draft parks plan update and information about suggested amendment language are available on the City's website under Latest News. Our efforts to protect the Park are not finished, but we are making progress.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

the persistence of vision

Kah Tai boundary, 14 September 1984
The southeastern boundary of Kah Tai Lagoon Nature Park has offered its own set of complications. There's a parcel labeled 'PUD' on all the various and sundry hand-drawn maps posted earlier. That's Public Utility District, not Planned Unit Development.

When our local visionaries were hard at work imagining the park in the late 1970s, that vision included the underwater and upland County parcels, the Port parcels to the south of the lagoon, the PUD parcels to the southeast, and of course, as many surrounding private parcels as could be purchased or donated. The Port signed on as a joint sponsor with the City, so those parcels would be included. The County Commission voted unanimously to donate its land as soon as the grant was funded, and the PUD offered a lease with option to purchase. Actually, make that two leases. One PUD parcel was leased for 5 years, the other for 30 years. The documents do not mention why the PUD land was separated in this odd fashion. The lease amounts were $1.00 per year per parcel.  However, the leases didn't get finalized in time to be included in the grant application, so on all those maps, the PUD land is perched in the southeast corner, sitting by itself outside the boundary. The grant application language includes it, but the grant application boundary maps do not.

In September 1984, the same local visionaries were working to finish the transfer of one remaining park inholding in the northern uplands for which the title was complex and unresolved. The City had managed to purchase a half-interest in it, but the other half was more elusive. Yet another hand-drawn map flowed from the hand that drew all the earlier maps, and in late 1984, the PUD land was considered to be included in the park (click map to enlarge).  In 1985, the PUD lease agreements were amended to make both leases expire in 2012 to give more time for the purchase.

Somewhere along the way, the City apparently neglected to pay its $1.00 per year per parcel lease fee to the PUD and the PUD called in its cards in 1998, declared the lease invalid and filed for a rezone for development.  The City purchased the PUD land for $114,000 to prevent development. Yes, the City may have neglected its $1.00 per year, but the consequent costs seem completely out of line with the public good and taxpayer burdens, particularly since the PUD had endorsed the park concept back in 1981.

Fast forward to 2010. The National Park Service announced that 'all lands owned by either sponsor at the close of the grant on 29 March 1985 will be included in the 6(f)(3) boundary'. The PUD and County lands were not yet owned by the City in 1985. County lands finally changed ownership in 2004. But after examining all the leases and sales and good intentions gone occasionally awry,  the state Recreation and Conservation Office recommended to NPS that both former PUD and former County lands be included within the boundary since the City had documentation of lease control or lease intent for both PUD and County land and did finally own both properties.

And so, after 30 years at risk of growing ever smaller with loss of parcels, uncompleted transfers, voided leases and attempted abdication of responsibilities by sponsors, our intrepid park has managed to stay as it was in the hand-drawn map from 1984, a simple perimeter drawing with wonderfully few labels. 'Kah Tai Lagoon Park Boundary', including the unlabeled eastern bump-out formerly known as PUD parcels 1 and 2, turns out to be refreshingly accurate today.

Friday, November 11, 2011

can you see it now?

map 1 included in 81-043 Sec. 1.PDF, RCO files.
All these many months, those of us who have been chasing facts in old documents have missed something important. One of the consistent myths promoted by the Port is that no official map was submitted with the grant documents. There are maps in the official RCO files, but the original color versions were separated from the official documents that described them.  This unfortunate situation has allowed incomplete early draft maps to be put forward as 'the' map, most recently in the Leader's article about the Port lawsuit.

However, tucked away in one of those many public records request fulfillments received from the Washington Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) is a 27-page intact file entitled '81-043 Sec. 1.PDF'.  81-043 is the 1981 Kah Tai grant identification number. Sec. 1.PDF is one of 21 files in one folder of 160 MB of data on a CD containing 469 MB in a records request of several GB.  It is easy to overlook.

map 2 included in 81-043 Sec. 1.PDF, RCO files
Sec. 1.PDF has been overlooked because it has a few issues. For one, the cover letter from the State IAC (now RCO) office is incorrectly dated. It says 1989 when it should say 1980 (of course it is 1980 because the state letterhead says Dixie Lee Ray is governor, and she was not governor in 1989; her term ended in 1980). For another, the copy of the Program Narrative included is missing at least one page. And most importantly, the two maps included are very poorly xeroxed in black and white so it's hard to see what they represent. Since other and better copies of most of these documents had been found in other files, this particular file was overlooked. But what Sec. 1.PDF provides is what was submitted by the state to the federal  government to finalize the LWCF application process in November 1980.

Now that we have a real park boundary map authenticated by the person who drew it in 1980, we realize that this Sec. 1.PDF file is quite significant. The two faint maps (click on each to enlarge) BOTH show the SAME project boundary. The Port land is unambiguously included in both maps, however poor the reproduction. A little adjustment of contrast is all that is necessary to bring out the FAT BLACK line. And, in fact, the line is even fatter and more insistent in the second map! Compare these with the authenticated map  posted earlier. Map 1 above is a xerox of the authenticated final map. Map 2 is another original (all the maps were hand-drawn originals, back in 1980) of the same map boundary, also submitted with the files that IAC sent to NPS to complete the application process.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Sunday morning, Kah Tai

Kah Tai, Sunday morning, 6 November 2011. Great Blue Heron, Wigeons, Canada Geese and a Greater Yellowlegs. Photos courtesy Julie Jaman.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Guest opinion

Below is a letter to the Leader editor submitted on 18 October 2011 that has not yet appeared in print. It is printed here with the author's permission to provide another citizen's perspective on the current dilemma.

Dog bones

Never give a dog two bones at the same time. It will just get confused, run back and forth, and never know which one to chew on.

The Port of Port Townsend Commission has two bones. They are both otherwise known as “Taxpayer Money”.

The first bone is the grant money for investing in aluminum scrap futures. First they have to build a boat, and after using a lot more taxpayer money to underwrite a private enterprise so that it can be run as a “profitable” business, the boat can then be turned into scrap. It won’t be the first time that has happened in this town.

The recently spun notion that the “fast ferry” might be used to bring tourists from the cruise ships that dock in Seattle is the type of lunacy that only a politician could come up with. Cruise ships dock in Seattle for a limted time, and there is plenty to do in that city- Pike Place Market, the Seattle waterfront, Westlake Mall, Seattle Center, the Space Needle, Pioneer Square. No tourist will get off a cruise ship and then spend half the afternoon in an aluminum can flying to and from Port Townsend. It just won’t happen!

First it was going to be a commuter, and now it will be a “Destination” boat. According to director Pivarnik (Leader October 12), “If we don’t sell any tickets, we won’t make the run.” Any tickets? Does that mean one ticket, or at least 20? What if 19 show up? How do you draw the line? If a ferry did not make sense for Kingston, then it will make even less sense for Port Townsend. But this is just one more piƱata that everyone has to take a swing at.

The second bone is that bundle of taxpayer money that the Port has decided they will use to hire lawyers  to fight the US Government in court. It just doesn’t seem to matter how many clear cut decisions have been made regarding the preservation of Kah Tai Lagoon Nature Park. The commissioners just won’t let go of that bone. And we, all of us, will have to pay for this relentless assault on sanity. Why? Don’t ask that question. There is no “reason”. Some well known person said, “facts are strange things.” The Commission is not going to let facts get in their way!

BRIAN YOUNG Port Townsend

Monday, October 31, 2011

Kah Tai Lagoon Nature Park - Status Update

Admiralty Audubon Program for November: Kah Tai Status Update

The public is invited Thursday, 17 November at 7 p.m.
Port Townsend Community Center, Lawrence and Tyler

Following the recommendation of the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office on 7 September, the National Park Service concurred on 27 September that all 78.5 acres included in the original Kah Tai Lagoon Nature Park boundary are protected in perpetuity.

Historic records were used to demonstrate to officials at City, State and Federal levels that the original intent of the Park was clear. Many of those documents came from public records requests to government offices at all levels and from long hours of internet searching of government records available online. Where government records needed supplementation, seven boxes of citizen archives provided critical details. The archives of the Friends of Kah Tai were stored in attics, under beds, in basements and closets of numerous Friends in their 30+ years of existence, just waiting to finally tell their story.

Rick Jahnke will discuss how the NPS ruling affects Kah Tai and the citizens of Port Townsend.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

just a reminder

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

curiouser and curiouser

Today we have another presentation of some target-rich text in the Port's lawsuit.

"4.4 Plaintiff Port first learned of the existence of the claim of interest in the United States in the Subject Property on or after 2008, when the defendants state Recreation and Conservation Office and defendant the US National Park Service and others communicated the United State's intent to encumber the Subject Property via recordation of a re-created Map purporting to depict a US Land and Water Conservation Fund Act (16 USC section 4601-4 - 4601-11) section 6(f) grant-based use restrictions would encumber the Port's property and restrict it to "park" purposes."

[4.5 and 4.6 address RCO recommendation and NPS ruling in September 2011]

"4.7 Prior to such time, and no sooner than 2008, Plaintiff Port had no reason to know of the claim of interest of the United States or its agencies in the Subject Property, and in fact the City and state agency RCO had disavowed in writing any continuing encumbrance on the Port's Subject Property beyond the Port-City lease term which terminates in July 12, 2012.

4.8 Plaintiff Port is informed and believes, and thereon alleges, that none of the plaintiff's predecessors in title knew or had reason to know of the existence of the claim of interest of the United States or its agencies in the Subject Property at any time prior to 2008
" (emphasis added).

As an LWCF park, Kah Tai was inspected every five years. Among the documents found in public records requests are the ones shown here (click on images to enlarge). The upper image is the cover letter for the 2005 inspection. Note it is from IAC, which is responsible for compliance inspections in LWCF parks. Note also that it is addressed to the current port manager and that it lists both state grant number 81-043A and the FEDERAL LWCF grant number 53-00486.

The lower image is the actual inspection report. Note that it says LWCF in the upper right, and that it lists the Port as 'project sponsor'. The inspection comments are 'Very attractive facility with trails around lagoon, restroom and picnic shelter being the prominent site improvements. Trail access is possible from several locations around the lagoon, with primary parking provided at the trailhead at 12th Street.'

Note the inspection included evaluation of use for intended purpose, compliance or evidence of conversion. Note that signage to acknowledge funding program and partners is checked.

This inspection was in 2005. The port manager received the report. How can the Port claim not to know about Kah Tai's LWCF status before 2008?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

anybody want a copy of that contract?

Continuing with the Port lawsuit, paragraph 4.3 from the 24 October post:

If the Port is attempting to suggest that the City leading the application process and the Port merely being a 'signator' absolves the Port of any obligation, note the language in the IAC grant manual in force at the time (IAC Participation Manual #5: Application Policy and Procedure, January 1979):

5.03 Special Application Conditions

5.03A Joint Projects: Joint projects are where one jurisdiction owns the property which is to be developed by another. In each case, a prime sponsor must be identified through an appropriate resolution passed by both agencies. In these instances, each agency will be required to sign the Application and Project Contract and be bound by the terms and conditions therein [emphasis added].

The City record is replete with resolutions as described by 5.03A but the Port's record is less transparent, particularly with the loss of all manager's reports for the period. However, we can be certain that at some point prior to signing the 1981 grant project contract, the Port had done the paperwork to be a proper IAC applicant.  In City minutes in the early 1970s, the Port tried to get the City to participate in an IAC grant for a park in the Kah Tai area. And by 1977, the Port requested and received an IAC retroactive waiver for the HJ Carroll property on the western boundary of Kah Tai. Why would the IAC grant a waiver to an entity that was not already a proper applicant?

Monday, October 24, 2011

creation of 'facts' from fallacies

Section 4.3 of Port's Quiet Title lawsuit: "An encumbrance consisting of a US Land and Water Conservation Fund Act (16 USC section 4601-11) section 6(f)(3) grant-based use restriction by which the use of the Port Property is restricted to park uses purportedly due to the Port's lease of the Subject Property to the City of Port Townsend via a thirty year term lease which allowed the City of Port Townsend to qualify for a US Department of Interior grant for park purposes which included acquisition of lands other than the Port's Subject Property for which the Port was also a signator on the grant application."

That's one incredibly long, target-rich sentence.

1. No one but the Port 'purports' any such thing. Lease is irrelevant to the 6(f) ruling. RCO, NPS and anyone who can subtract 30 from 2012 agree on this. The 20+ acre lease in question was signed in 1982. The acquisition grant contract was signed in 1981. The grant application's assurances of compliance were signed in 1980. The retroactive waiver requested by the Port for the HJ Carroll land to be included in an LWCF park was 1977/78!

2. Since the lease for 20+ acres did not exist in 1980 or 1981, it cannot be what 'allowed' the City to 'qualify' for anything.

3. The only lease in place between the City and Port in late 1980/early 1981 was for a few underwater parcels and a 10-ft strip of shoreline on the southeastern side of the lagoon so that the boundary of the area containing all private parcels to be purchased would be controlled by the City. And even this lease was an afterthought, toward the end of the application process, to help the acquisition grant application earn enough points in the evaluation process to qualify for funding.

4. The lease in 1982, for 20+ acres of Port land, was needed by the Port because it offered them control of City-owned rights of way in the boat yard, which the Port required for their own Comprehensive Plan. The City also needed to show control of the Port land for its 1983 IAC development grant application because the Port had not yet transferred its property to the City as it had agreed to do in the acquisition grant application process.

"Somehow it seems to fill my head with ideas---only I don't exactly know what they are!"
Alice in Wonderland, after reading the poem Jabberwocky

Sunday, October 23, 2011

rewriting history, in lieu of facts

6 December 2001 - Email, Port Manager to City Attorney: "We have the IAC Grant contract in our files. There are no port signatures on the document...I have also checked our Commission minutes and there is not mention of any Port Commission approval of any such IAC grant. I will keep checking."

16 August 1982 - Port Commission minutes: "Review of Kah Tai Park Plan Paul Jacobson and Mark Welch, Representatives of the City of Port Townsend Park Board and Steve Hayden of the Citizen Advisory [sic] presented to the Commission a detailed plan of the proposed park [subject of IAC grant]...the representatives pointed out that the present plans could change dependent on monies available and that the park would take several years before completion. [Port Commission President] Mr. Thompson moved to approve the plans as submitted. Motion passed unanimously." (emphasis added)
There are no port signatures on the 1983 grant contract because it was a city grant with the state. There ARE port signatures on the 1981 grant contract with the state (IAC, now RCO) and federal (NPS) government. And perhaps there would be much more information about both grants if all the port manager's reports hadn't disappeared from port archives...

Saturday, October 22, 2011

pre-planning an insanity defense

The Port Commission voted to go forward with their quiet title lawsuit against NPS, RCO and the City on 14 September 2011 - one week after RCO recommended the full boundary as 6(f)(3) and two weeks before NPS ruled. It seems they recognized the NPS handwriting on the wall before it was actually written.

One of the more curious aspects of the lawsuit is that it sues the City for attorney fees to sue the City. And the City is not being sued because they've done anything legally offensive. The City is named because they had the audacity to follow the terms of the 1982 lease with the Port and manage the park land as park land because the lease said it could only be managed as park land or the lease would be void. But because it was managed as park land, it is the City's fault that RCO and NPS decided it was park land and called it 6(f) protected, so it is the City's fault that the lease wasn't ignored and the land mismanaged.

What rabbit hole have we just fallen into?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

good advice from a Friend of Kah Tai

I hope the interested public will carefully read the record that WA State RCO and the National Park Service recently agreed clearly shows that previous Port authorities had fully committed the land in question to the full 78+ acre park. This became a legal limitation that runs with the title to the full park configuration on acceptance of the Federal Land and Water Conservation Funds by those previously authorized to do so on behalf of the public entity known as the Port of Port Townsend.  There are irregularities in the post-award grant management that have been documented that by no means negate the RCO recommendation and NPS decision. Contrary to the Port manager's interview in today's Leader, the Port has not yet fully exercised its administrative options to apply for a conversion of the land from outdoor recreational use to whatever while providing land of equal environmental value offsite.

As we watch this fools' parade, the commissioners, manager, manager's staff and contract lawyer should be asked what happened to the former port manager's reports from the 1980's?  That would settle the intent of the Port at the time of the grant implementation. We now are fortunate that past managers and mayors are willing to step forward and certify their intent and official involvement in this important and historical moment in the survival of this wonderful open space jewel.

Commissioner Thompson has indicated his continued wish that the land be used for extensive commercial development. So long birds, so long trees, hello pavement. Is that the opinion of the public he represents?

Until this is resolved, please urge the City and Port officials to renew the lease so that the City and its volunteer corps can continue to protect and maintain this wonderful resource land for walking, birding, playing, sky watching, and all those activities that really make us human.

Paula Mackrow
Friends of Kah Tai Board

the neverending story

acquisition boundary draft, 1980
 The article in the Port Townsend Leader today presents an interesting version of history. That would be 'history' according to the Port of Port Townsend. The map provided in the electronic article is a draft that indicated only private parcels to be purchased, and yet the caption claims that it indicates the land protected by 6(f). The same caption is on the map in the electronic subscription version, except that the private parcels aren't shown and the Port land is all blacked out and not within the 6(f) boundary.
authenticated final park boundary, 1980
The various map drafts were hand-drawn back in 1980 during the application process, so all are originals. The upper left map here is a version for which the base map is dated June 1980 (click on image to enlarge). Note that in this version, what is parcel S in the Leader article map is parcel Y here. The 'Boundary' that the title refers to is the acquisition boundary around the private parcels to be purchased or donated.

At the lower left is the final park project boundary (as opposed to acquisition boundary) map that was submitted on 18 November 1980 and authenticated in June 2011 by the person who drew it in 1980 and submitted it to RCO (IAC) Director Robert Wilder, who submitted it to NPS. Note the differences in the final private parcels, including their letter designations. Note that both of these versions include an additional parcel labeled 'U' in the southeastern quadrant, not included in the draft map in the Leader.

The 18 November 1980 map is the only map in the RCO or NPS archives where the total number of parcels and their letter designations matches the acquisition schedule that was submitted in the grant application process. The solid black line was drawn in at that time over the dashed gray full park boundary because, to quote the artist, "...the light gray does not copy well, and copied even less well in 1980 - thus the black line overlying it. A careful scrutiny shows it is indeed identical to the black line, which accurately portrays the final project boundary."

The mere filing of a lawsuit does not change the NPS ruling, which is not appealable. The boundary is the full 78.5 acre park, according to RCO. According to NPS. And according to the grant application agreed to by City and Port elected officials 30 years ago.

The link to today's 'history' lesson on the Leader's public website is below.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

tackling urban myths, continued

Another day, another rebuttal to less-than-illuminating comments regarding the recent Leader article  about the NPS ruling protecting Kah Tai.

To the authoritative-sounding comments from the park 'historian': The Kah Tai Alliance is an entity of varying composition that has coalesced and dissolved several times in the last 30+ years. It arose in the 1970s from efforts to save what remained of Kah Tai Lagoon from development. Kah Tai became PT's first Adopt-A-Park in late 2001 and the adoption was by the Kah Tai Alliance. The iteration of the KTA in 2001 included Admiralty Audubon, Jefferson Land Trust, Friends of Kah Tai, People for a Livable Community and Port Townsend High School Environmental Club.

Note that Friends of Kah Tai and Audubon are both named explicitly in the 1981 LWCF park grant narrative and Admiralty Audubon and Kah Tai Alliance are named explicitly in the US Fish and Wildlife publication: Important Fish and Wildlife Habitats of Washington ( (Important fish and wildlife habitat of Washington: an inventory (1978). US Fish and Wildlife Service 85 pp.).  The Alliance may be silent at the moment, but the organizations that fostered the most recent iteration are mostly alive and quite well, thank you.

If the Port had cancelled the lease early as suggested by the same commenter, they would have lost control over the City ROWs in the boat haven early as well, an issue yet to be resolved. If the Port had cancelled the lease early, the LWCF rules would still be in place and they would have to manage the land as a park. However, there are RCWs which suggest that ports cannot as a rule legally manage parks - more on that soon.

The City offered to plant approx. 450 tree seedlings (Douglas Fir, Shore Pine, Willow spp., Cottonwood and Western Red Cedar, not a single exotic on the list) in 2001-2002 but the Port threatened legal action against them to stop the effort. So while the Port insists that the City maintain the park it refuses to let them do so. The Port administration claims that they knew nothing about any plans to develop the park and that permission is required for any effort, even though back in 1982, members of the Parks Board gave the Port Commission a detailed briefing on the plans for park development and the Commissioners passed the plan as presented, unanimously (more on this soon as well). This information is available in the Port minutes.

And then there's the comment from a former port commissioner who was in office in 2003 when the Port prepared its 20-year Comprehensive Scheme ( that chose Alternative 2 for Kah Tai - No Development, with an EIS that declared that any development would be harmful ( There doesn't seem to be any evidence in the Scheme that any commissioner produced a minority opinion against that finding. Why now does he suggest we fill in the lagoon?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Red Herrings and Overlooked Facts

The Port Townsend Leader published an article about the NPS ruling today (link) that contains some interesting quotes and comments in need of a little clarification.

The Port Administration's claim of missing documents is a red herring. RCO Director Cottingham's recommendation (see September 8 post, below) to NPS referenced 21 state and federal documents for verification of her recommendation.

The Port Administration's claim that none of the LWCF money bought Port land is a red herring. LWCF funds cannot be used to buy public lands except in very rare circumstances which do not apply to Kah Tai. Also, along with her recommendation Ms. Cottingham attaches a document from the Department of the Interior which states that the "entire area identified in the project agreement" is subject to the 6(f)(3) provisions, not just the parts purchased with LWCF funds. And the "entire area" is identified as between 78 and 80 acres in 13 individual documents.

The Port Attorney's contention that she could find no legal basis that port property was subject to continuing obligations is curious. Ms. Lake had access to precisely the same documents that RCO and NPS used. In fact, citizens received via a public records request full copies of the RCO and NPS records requested by Ms. Lake and those records contain every document RCO and NPS used for their determinations. Ms. Lake apparently overlooked the existence of a signed contract and assurances of compliance that bind the Port to the obligations.

The claim that an aquatic center can be appropriate for the Park is belied by the rules for compliance and conversion of 6(f)(3) lands. 'Compliant use' is 'compliant' with the language in a particular project. Nowhere to be found in the 1980/81 EIA; project narrative; application correspondence between local, state and federal offices; or state or federal briefing documents are references made to a swimming pool of any kind, much less an aquatic center. What is mentioned repeatedly is restoration of wildlife habitat. At RCO on 31 March 2011, staffers referred openly to the Make Waves effort as their first "swimming pool conversion". Any attempt to put an aquatic center in the park would therefore likely require a conversion, which is not simple or easy. An early demonstration of the need for a conversion is that a proposed project CANNOT go anywhere else. Good luck with that.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Birding at Kah Tai

The birders were out in force this foggy morning at Kah Tai. Our group of fourteen humans ranged in age from 70s+ to a charming boy of perhaps 7 with his grandmother. The Admiralty Audubon trip leader carried one of several spotting scopes in the group. The calm waters of the lagoon were dotted with flotillas of individual species and groups of species, sailing about their business. An adult mallard was trailed by several non-mallard juveniles. "Teenagers," was all the trip leader said in explanation.

Marsh Wren. Greater Yellowlegs. Killdeer. Virginia Rail. Great Blue Heron. Scaups. Buffleheads and Ruddy Ducks. Did somebody say Wood Ducks? (Nope, no Wood Ducks.) Wigeons. Shovelers. Mergansers. Glaucous-winged Gulls. Long V's of Canada Geese honked in and splash-landed while others lined up for takeoff after feeding and resting. Flocks of migrating Yellow-rumped Warblers. Ruby-crowned Kinglets. A Spotted Towhee. Juncos. Crows. Rock Pigeons. An Anna's Hummingbird.

One birder, quiet and thoughtful, was in line at one scope or another for most of the announced sightings. Finally, he said, "I always thought this was just all blackberries and Scot's Broom here. I had no idea...".

That is the whole point of Kah Tai Lagoon Nature Park. Nearly 80 acres of water, marsh and uplands rehabilitated from dredge spoil, threatened repeatedly by development from people who see nothing but blackberries and Scot's Broom. But in the middle of our small town, accessible to all, it remains a serene oasis. It is now officially federally protected by National Park Service regulations.

Go see the blackberries and Scot's Broom if that's what you expect. But don't be surprised if the Park sneaks up and changes you.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Kah Tai Rising

stained glass by Phyllis Hopek/Hopeck(?)
In the late 1970s, many Port Townsend artists and poets, artisans of all kinds, contributed their talents to raise funds and consciousness about the value of Kah Tai Lagoon. This worthy endeavor forestalled efforts underway to develop a strip mall next to what remained of the original saltwater estuary.

Protest songs were composed and recorded. Poems were written and performed. Benefit concerts were held. Quilters, sculptors, painters, actors, everyone who had something to offer came forward, gift in hand to help the cause. Balloons and corn on the cob were sold at street fairs to raise funds and help pay for the legal actions made necessary by developers.

Ultimately, concerned citizens ran for office and were elected to change the political landscape of the town in order to save the lagoon. A wildlife park of nearly 80 acres exists today because good people cared enough to make it happen. It's taken more than 30 years to get close to finishing the job they started, but Kah Tai is safer tonight than it has been in a long time.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

It's Official!

Today, those who support the preservation of Kah Tai Lagoon Nature Park received more good news from the Washington Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) when RCO staff forwarded an important letter from the National Park Service (NPS). On September 27, 2011, Michael Linde, NPS Pacific West Region Leader, Community Assistance Programs, sent the letter to Kaleen Cottingham, Director, WA RCO, to concur with the RCO's 6(f)(3) boundary determination for Kah Tai Lagoon Nature Park. NPS corrected a small discrepancy so that the Park's northern boundary terminates at the southern edge of 19th Street/Blaine Street. Our Park is intact! Although future development is not impossible, it has been rendered very, very difficult and really expensive. NPS does not spend public funds to create temporary parks and their bar to demonstrate need for conversion is exceedingly high.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

RCO Recommends Full Park Boundary!!

All supporters of Kah Tai Lagoon Nature Park got some great news today. The Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) in Olympia has recommended that all 78.5 original acres of Kah Tai Lagoon Nature Park should be included in the National Park Service's 6(f)(3) protected boundary. Now we just have to wait for NPS to rule (they decide, RCO only recommends). This is very good news. If you want the full RCO response, the link is here). It's a big pdf file (11+MB).

Thursday, August 18, 2011

How much is enough?

For those who think Kah Tai Lagoon Nature Park can afford to have more pieces whittled away by ill-conceived development, the two maps to the left might be instructional.

The upper map is an excerpt showing the topography of Kah Tai from a US Coast Survey map prepared in 1856. Port Townsend was still Port Townshend but well on her way to losing the 'H'. In fact, the full 1856 map has a hand-written notation pointing at the 'H' in the legend and indicating that it would be removed as an official directive. Although the map has suffered the wear and tear of a century and a half, it is clear that in 1856, Kah Tai was a fully tidal estuarine marsh open to Port Towns(h)end Bay.

The lower map is 1.5 centuries newer, and is a section from Washington Division of Geology and Earth Resources Geologic Map GM-57 (Schasse and Slaughter, 2005), available online. All that light brown area labeled Qml? That is defined as "modified land - soil, sediment, or other geologic material locally reworked by excavation and (or) redistribution to modify topography". In the case of Kah Tai, the 'local reworking' was 231,000 cubic yards of dredge spoil dumped in 1964 to create the Boat Haven.

Hasn't the Port of Port Townsend benefited quite enough from the 'reworking' of Kah Tai?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Mayor says - "Sign the Petition!"

Mayor Barney McClure, that is. 'Hizzoner' was mayor of Port Townsend when Kah Tai Lagoon Nature Park was created, and his is one of the two signatures on the project contract and other relevant documents from 1980 and 1981. He's moved on from politics, but jazz is still front and center. Pictured after a recent evening's performance of B3 jazz are Barney (stage left), his wife Diane (a little obscured by Barney's enthusiastic support for the banner's message) and guitarist Dave Peterson (stage right).

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Comprehensive Plan Amendment

A citizen-proposed amendment in the current amendment cycle for the City Comprehensive Plan would add the text shown in bold below to Section IV. Land Use Element of the current Comprehensive Plan:

Parks & Recreation
IV. Land Use Element

Goal 4: To develop park and recreation facilities, programs and opportunities which are responsive to the needs and interests of Port Townsend residents.

Policy 4.5: Design and manage park and recreation facilities to maximize environmental protection and provide interpretive opportunities for ecological systems and features, and cultural resources.

4.5.1. Extend maximum environmental protection in perpetuity for the exclusive open space, wildlife habitat, and passive outdoor recreation functions within Kah Tai Lagoon Nature Park.

The Nature Park has been under threat of development for nearly half of its existence due to the imperfect nature of institutional memory which should have recorded the protected boundaries of the Park. When that memory failed at the City, the Port, the Washington State RCO and NPS, the only people left to protect the Park were the volunteers who created and fostered it into existence. That act of will is all that stood between irreplaceable wildlife habitat, natural open space and the 'progress' of mindless development.

The City Council has accepted this amendment to docket, but has put it on hold until they hear from RCO and NPS about the final 6(f)(3) boundary determination. We've been waiting a year so far for that ruling. But Kah Tai has been waiting far longer. It's well past time for the powers that be to stand up for what is right and honor the commitments made three decades ago.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

deja view

Kah Tai Lagoon Nature Park exists today because of the efforts of many Port Townsend citizens, but there are a few heroes who went far beyond what ordinary people would have committed to the cause. Four lawsuits were brought by citizens to protect the area from a variety of development threats. Not all were successful, but all were paid for by the unflagging dedication of hard-working folks.

Years after the park was a reality, the attorney fees for the lawsuits were still being paid off, one paycheck or one fundraiser at a time. The Ziggy cartoon was found in the archives of records saved by those citizens, tucked in with all the careful documentation of payments for attorney fees from nearly three decades ago.

The current incarnation of Kah Tai protectors hope that it never comes to that again. But we have already paid for an attorney to look at the records and provide guidance during the present effort to finalize the 6(f)(3) boundaries that will protect the park in perpetuity. We are waiting for the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office to 'ascertain the boundaries in continuity with the original grant intent' and recommend that permanent boundary to the National Park Service (NPS). NPS will have the final decision.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

park acquisition schedule - parcel Z

In the application process for the LWCF acquisition grant that created Kah Tai Lagoon Nature Park, an acquisition schedule was included in the submission attachments with OMB form 80-R0184 under 'Project Approval Information, Part IV, 3c. Attachments'. Note that this is what was proposed at the beginning of the grant process. Some private properties were tied up in probate issues that couldn't be sorted out in a timely way and some private owners decided to donate subsequently so the final number of 'negotiated purchase' and 'donation (private)' properties changed slightly. But parcel Z is 70 acres, not appraised and no cost listed so no purchase was necessary, and it is coded '4. Land transfer (public)'. That 70 acres includes all City, County, PUD and Port lands committed for the park. Click on the image to enlarge the schedule for viewing.  Note that the Office of Management and Budget, OMB, is a federal office so the form was required by the federal LWCF process.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

all the words you need to understand

Kah Tai Lagoon Nature Park was created with "funding provided by The Land and Water Conservation Fund".

If you follow this link to the LWCF page of Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office you will find the following language at the bottom of the first page:

"All property acquired or developed with Land and Water Conservation Fund grants must be kept forever exclusively for public outdoor recreation use."

Now, how hard was that?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Yes, as a matter of fact, it IS a nature park

A pervasive urban myth about Kah Tai Lagoon Nature Park is that it was NEVER intended to be a NATURE park, that the word 'nature' got inserted into the name inappropriately and recently, not by anyone in authority but by a few misguided individuals seeking to prevent development in the Park.

However, in the Environmental Impact Assessment in the 1981 LWCF grant proposal, Kah Tai is referred to explicitly as a 'de-facto wildlife park'. Perhaps those that object to the term 'nature park' would prefer 'wildlife park'? Does that suggest a region more amenable to development?

More importantly, the City of Port Townsend developed a Comprehensive Parks and Recreation Plan in 1986, and the Plan refers repeatedly to the Park by its full name, Kah Tai Lagoon Nature Park. The 1986 plan is posted on the City's excellent website as a part of Resolution 86-028.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

government in action

The Port of Port Townsend insists that its land in Kah Tai Lagoon Nature Park will be released from any obligations to remain as park land in 2012, when a lease expires. The Port's attorney has stated that the lease controls, but only because she carefully avoided the existence and timing of a binding contract between the Port of Port Townsend and the State of Washington signed in 1981. That contract controls, not the 1982 lease. Any agreement between the Port and a third party (the City) signed subsequently does not control a binding contract with the state, and thereby with the Federal Department of the Interior, for the Land and Water Conservation Funds that created Kah Tai Lagoon Nature Park in 1981.

Ten citizens traveled to Olympia on March 31, 2011, to make certain that the State Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) Board and staff understood the timing of the contract and the lease. Citizens brought along their own attorney's analysis of the situation. In response to testimony by eight citizens and letters of support by 38 citizens, the Board recognized that it was not their role to 'negotiate' a boundary that already exists and purged its erroneous Briefing Memo with regard to 'negotiating' the future of Kah Tai and will instead 'ascertain' the boundary and forward their recommendation to the National Park Service.

The letters of support were posted online at RCO as public documents in one pdf. The pdf is available at this RCO link. Note that it is a large document because of one 40+page submission of promotional materials supporting the first of many possible losses of park land if the Port is allowed to commercially develop its Kah Tai land. If you would like to receive a smaller pdf with the 5+ MB of promotional materials removed, please email to let us know.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Illegal Conversions of LWCF Parks

If you care about protecting Kah Tai Lagoon Nature Park from the current attempt by the Port to have the fill land, included in the Park in 1981, now removed from any protections, this article is well worth reading. Our State Recreation and Conservation Office has been careless with oversight in the past and illegal conversions are numerous in the region. Citizens must pay attention to this issue to safeguard this remaining natural habitat in our urban environment. Follow the URL at the bottom of this post and you will be able to download a pdf of this important article.

[82WashLRev0737] Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing: Enforcing Land Use Restrictions on Land and Water Conservation Fund Parks
Title: [82WashLRev0737] Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing: Enforcing Land Use Restrictions on Land and Water Conservation Fund Parks
Author: Gelardi, Michael J.; Washington Law Review
Abstract: Abstract: Congress created the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) in 1965 to provide resources for states and federal agencies to acquire and develop land for public outdoor recreation. Over the past forty years, the LWCF has quietly become one of the most successful conservation programs in United States history. The federal government and states have used the LWCF to preserve unique landscapes for their natural beauty, scientific value, and wildlife habitat, as well as to encourage traditional recreational pursuits. The LWCF Act prohibits the conversion of LWCF-funded state and local parks to uses other than public outdoor recreation unless approved by the National Park Service under strict conditions. Nevertheless, state and local LWCF grantees have illegally converted numerous LWCF parks. As pressure grows on state and local governments to develop parkland for nonrecreational uses, illegal LWCF park conversions threaten unique landscapes and the integrity of the LWCF program. This Comment argues that federal common law and statutory rights in LWCF-funded lands enable the United States to seek an array of coercive remedies to prevent, remedy, and deter illegal conversions of LWCF parks.
Date: 2007-08

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Kah Tai Lagoon Nature Park Plan, July 1982

Here is the architectural plan view in color from Illahee Associates (click on the map to enlarge it). It represents the vision and intent of the full and realized Park as a part of the planning for the development grant in 1983. Although it's hard to see on the right hand margin in this version, a less beautiful version of the same map shows the start date for this rendering as 28 July 1982. For people who are keeping track, notice that July 1982 is BEFORE the Port signed the lease with the City on 4 August 1982 for 20+ acres between Sims and the lagoon. So, in July 1982, with no leases in place for the southern portion of the Park, both sponsors of the 1981 acquisition grant understood that the development grant would - develop (!) the southern portion as a nature park - with a small lagoon, trails, plantings of native flora, a play meadow, restrooms, picnic shelter. Citizens committed $145,000 (in 1983 dollars) as in-kind match for this grant, in skilled labor and materials to develop the vision of the Park.

This was not a vision for a temporary park. This was effort dedicated to a park that had been promised to the citizens of Port Townsend in perpetuity. 'Perpetuity' is longer than 30 years. Kah Tai Lagoon Nature Park should outlast all of us working now to complete the protections that were overlooked by NPS in 1985 when the acquisition grant closed. Protecting Kah Tai is our commitment to those whose vision created it, and it is our gift to the generations that follow.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Kah Tai Lagoon Nature Park Plot Plan, 1980

One of the many reasons that Kah Tai's future is not as certain as it should be 30 years after creation is that the paperwork didn't get completed in 1985 when the acquisition grant closed. A 6(f) boundary map should have been attached to the record at that time. All parcels in the Park should have been recorded as protected. But the ball got dropped, at NPS, at IAC (now RCO) and here in Port Townsend.

Then there are the errors made between 1985 and today. In 2004, an attempt was made to find the missing 6(f) map at NPS, but instead, a crudely drawn plat map was pulled from the record by support staff and casually penciled in with the label 'Official 6(f)'. The plat map includes within its rough and inaccurate boundaries many properties north of the Lagoon whose owners would be quite shocked to find out that the National Park Service considered their homes within the Park boundary, however briefly.

Fortunately, within the 1981 files is also a carefully drawn plot plan (click on image to enlarge), included in the orginal grant submission but not labeled as explicitly as would have been helpful for posterity. It shows the full boundary of the intended Park.  It may not say '6(f)', but it is dated September 20, 1980. And it shows all the public and private parcels considered to be part of the intended Park. This is the boundary that merits stipulations of perpetuity. This is our Park.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Kah Tai

Nurse – It's, still moving, or...?
Doctor – Yes, let's see- it's
Nurse – Beating?
Doctor – Scalpel!
Nurse – But, but...
Doctor – There, it's quiet now.
Nurse – But, wasn't that– the heart?
Doctor – Oh, yes, well I guess it was—
And so you too, Port Townsend,
The knife is raised, and what yet beats
Can be silenced soon enough.
This heart, this quiet place,
At rest in the fold of silent tongues,
This, that no man, no group,
No councilman, or commissioner,
has the right to take—
This heart beats for all, and
All should have a say.
If ever a referendum should be held,
Then it is now. If this heart is to be
Cut out, then all hands should grasp
The handle, and all hands thrust the blade.
Those who think they alone should cut
This heart—remember
Blood does not wash.

Brian Young
Port Townsend

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Friends of Kah Tai Board endorse Transit Proposition 1

The Friends of Kah Tai are supportive of Jefferson Transit for its services and its partnership with the community in protecting the Kah Tai Lagoon Nature Park buffers. The Friends of Kah Tai's focus is to protect the Park buffers from encroachment by development. Over fifteen years ago, during the permitting process, Jefferson Transit agreed to the responsibilities of protecting the buffers which are integral to the natural systems of the Park. We appreciate Jefferson Transit's stewardship through the years, helping to protect and preserve these buffers. We encourage voters to support Transit Proposition 1.