City of Kenmore explores creation of PDA to control Saint Edward State Park

On June 2, 2014, Kenmore City Council participated in their Mid-Year Retreat. While generally no action is taken at a retreat, on June 2 the City Council voted to hire an attorney to immediately begin negotiations with Washington State Parks. The goal of the negotiations is to allow City of Kenmore to take control of Saint Edward State Park buildings and core land.  City of Kenmore’s plan is to create a Public Development Authority (PDA) and appoint the PDA’s Board of Directors.

This PDA and planned changes in City of Kenmore zoning would pave the way for a developer to lease the core of the Park from the PDA and develop the property. The rationale stated at the retreat, without supporting evidence, is that the public has changed its mind about commercial development in the park. City Staff explained to the City Council that the City can collect a 4% annual tax in lieu of property tax as well as collect capital improvement fees.  The “pitch” for the public is that City is out to save a historic building.

Citizens for Saint Edward State Park has prepared a detailed written transcript of the portion of the June 2 retreat which dealt with Saint Edward State park. The City of Kenmore provides a link to the audio recording of the retreat on the City Council Audio page. Discussion of the Seminary begins at approximately minute 49.

Citizens for Saint Edward State Park believes State Parks’ negotiations for use of the property are premature without an unbiased, professional Best Use Analysis that gives weight to the park experience. This Park was purchased with Land and Water Conservation Funds to be an natural oasis, a retreat from urban development. We ask all negotiations of plans for this park’s development, whether with non-profit or for-profit developers, cease until a Best Use Analysis is completed. We ask that all actions that then commence, including initialed pre-agreement agreements and term sheets, be open to public scrutiny and comment. We ask that State Parks consider only “public/private partnerships” whose plans are subordinate and low impact to the park experience.

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