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