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.

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