Tuesday, February 21, 2012

City Workshop about Parks Plan, 23 February 2012, 6:30 pm

The Port Townsend Planning Commission and Parks, Recreation and Tree Board will hold a joint workshop (February 23, 2012, 6:30 pm, City Council chambers) to accept public comment on the second draft of the Parks Functional Plan update. The Parks Plan must be consistent with our City's Comprehensive Plan.

The format of that public comment is not clear, as it will be facilitated by City staff (see agenda and associated documents at http://cityofpt.granicus.com/GeneratedAgendaViewer.php?view_id=2&event_id=70). One of the concerns that staff intends to address is in Agenda Section V.3.d.: "Given the purpose of the parks plan, how much descriptive text and history should it contain?"

This concern may be related to efforts by the Friends of Kah Tai Board to insert relevant park history into the draft Parks Plan. You may examine a part of that editing effort at:


City staff should be reminded that we are all in the middle of this current exercise BECAUSE the history and unique standing of Kah Tai Lagoon Nature Park was forgotten by both the City and the Port, and all local government's copies of relevant documents were not safeguarded. If the City and Port had been diligent stewards of history, they would not now be on opposing sides in a lawsuit that extends to the National Park Service, trying to resurrect Kah Tai's history and determine our park's future.

You can support this process by attending the meeting and/or by emailing your concerns to the City about the following points:

For the Parks Plan update:

1. Language should be inserted in the Parks Plan to clarify that any proposed future use for Kah Tai allow only 'passive outdoor recreation that is compatible with wildlife habitat'.

2. Longterm planning should include the transfer of the Port's Kah Tai land to the City.

3. Park history belongs in the parks plan in order that City staff and the public can be reminded of what is, and is not, appropriate for a park given its history and status.

For the Comprehensive Plan update:

4. Add to the Comprehensive Plan Glossary the definitions of four park categories that are now in the draft Parks Plan update: pocket/mini parks, neighborhood parks, community parks and natural/open space parks.

If you would like more information or to be emailed copies of the relevant documents, please send an email.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

revisionist history

The intent of the 1981 City/Port LWCF acquistion grant was to purchase all available private parcels and transfer all public parcels at Kah Tai to City ownership. When the grant closed in 1985, the public parcels had not yet been transferred, but the PUD and County parcels are now in City hands. The City and Port were grant cosponsors but the Port's land has still not made it into City ownership.

Things were pretty quiet for a decade or so after park creation, but in 1996, the City completed its Comprehensive Plan, designating Kah Tai as Public/Open Space (P/OS) as it had been since 1968. The Port cites City Resolution 97-08 as confirmation from the City that the Port can file for any redesignation it chooses for its Kah Tai land when a 1982 lease expires in July 2012. The implication is that the Resolution arose as an outcome of a Port appeal before the Western Washington Growth Management Board against the City.

A few facts are missing from that rendition of history. The Port did not apparently file a GMHB appeal against the City. Petition no. 96-2-0029 was filed by Jefferson County Homebuilders against the City on 13 September 1996. The Port filed to intervene on 11 October 1996, just prior to the prehearing conference. GMHB documents indicate that the Port didn't submit a brief on its concerns at the hearing on 14 November 1996.

To appease the Port, the City agreed to language stipulating that like any other landowner, the Port had a right to ask for a redesignation at the end of the lease and also that any future Council was not bound to approve a redesignation. The agreement was sufficient for the Port to withdraw its intervention from the appeal in January 1997. This was unfortunate, because the GMHB found in favor of the City shortly thereafter.

The mystery is how the City and Port managed to go before the GMHB and never once mention that all the Kah Tai land in dispute had been committed by federal grant to a park more than a decade earlier. One wonders what the GMH Board might have said to the Port if it knew the Port was trying to redesignate federally protected park land for commercial use.

Some would like us to believe that since the City does not own the Port parcels at Kah Tai, those parcels are no longer part of the park come August 2012. The reality is more interesting. In August 2012, our park will managed by a two-headed monster,  two municipalities at odds and with no lease agreement between them. But both will be required to manage the park by LWCF standards.

If you have concerns about threats to our park or believe that it is not being protected as required by LWCF rules, contact our National Park Service field office (Seattle 206-220-4123, Federal Grant No. 53-00486) or our Washington State Agency (360-902-3000, State Grant No. 81-043A).