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).

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