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.

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