Historic ball field in St. Edward State Park faces irrevocable change

Letter to Editor, Kenmore-Bothell Reporter
Wed Aug 30th, 2017 8:30am

To all who value and enjoy St. Edward State Park: I write to alert you.

The City of Kenmore is relentlessly pushing a $4.91-million proposal to “improve” the open and natural grass ball field by installing “a fenced synthetic turf field, a subsurface stormwater system, and other related structures,” like bleachers, backstops, dugouts, a perimeter walking path, field lighting, maintenance shed and added parking — not to mention more asphalt, vehicles, congestion and noise.

“Approximately 131,000 square feet of sod will be removed. A 6-inch thick layer of free-draining aggregate will be placed over the subgrade, which will be covered with a 6-inch thick plastic grating system …..”

Adjacent to the field is a Class 2 wetland, which the state rating system defines as “difficult, though not impossible, to replace, and provides high levels of some functions.” Class 2 wetland buffers must be 100 feet, but “approximately 42,717 square feet (90%) of wetland buffer area is expected to be impacted,” a euphemism for uprooting the living soil and replacing it with dead plastic. To jump this hurdle of “insufficient” buffer, Kenmore is applying for a critical area variance,which if granted, would allow the proposal to move ahead.

Kenmore promises “compensatory mitigation” and “enhancement” of the area, yet concludes “the project will result in permanent unavoidable impacts to a wetland buffer area.”

This proposal is not a “renovation” or an “improvement.” It is a transformation — destructive to what is now a living ecosystem. It would benefit a minority of users when thousands of people come here every year to absorb and enjoy a place set apart from the beginning to preserve and protect a natural sanctuary.

Youth fields are important, but this development belongs in a municipal or school setting. We cheered our son’s soccer team wherever they played, often in school fields. Why isn’t this a pursued option now?

In 2008 the Washington State Parks Commission rejected a previous Kenmore ballfield proposal for St. Edward State Park as “inappropriate.” It still is.

If this development concerns you, please call or write. Public comment period for the Critical Area Variance is Aug. 18 through Sept. 8.

For more details: www.kenmorewa.gov/athletic-field-saint-edward

City of Kenmore Email: permittech@kenmorewa.gov. Phone: 425-398-8900.

Washington State Parks Commission (makes final decision.)
Email: commission@parks.wa.gov. Phone: 360-902-8502.

Karen Prince
32-year resident of Kenmore

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4 Responses to Historic ball field in St. Edward State Park faces irrevocable change

  1. Rosemary Warren says:

    I did just email the permit tech and state commission websites. Please do keep me in the loop. When I first saw the “proposed land use action” signs about a year ago, I didn’t think it meant total destruction of the field! Thank you for emailing me about this. I had no idea this was about to happen. If it’s all paved over, it’s not even a state park anymore. I’ve been here for 41 years, and this is appalling.

  2. Bob G. says:

    Now the ballfield is “historic” just like the seminary building you proposed tearing down in order to preserve your misguided perception of St. Ed’s as a “passive” park and “wildlife sanctuary?” It is neither. It is a Park that supports many recreational opportunities – trail runs, bike races, company picnics, a very noisy playground, and a Summer concert series (where the ballfield is converted into an environmentally friendly parking lot). If you truly want to create a vision of St. Ed’s as a passive wildlife sanctuary, I suggest you propose the elimination of all of the above activities and the closure of most trails to human use and their pets. Then let’s see how much community support your vision musters.

  3. Brent Anderson says:

    @Bob G. – I’ll readily concede historic is being a bit overly dramatic. But it is technically accurate in that the ball park is included in the national historic registry of the St Ed grounds. I personally am not much interested in the history of man made things in general so that’s not a priority for me, but I can’t speak for all of us.

    Your mention of passive seems to be out of place with regards to this particular post but it does show that you understand the spirit of our general preferences from the history of previous posts. It is nice to find you paying attention. There are actually other formally posted sanctuaries in our region that also include sanctioned trails (e.g. Narbeck in Everett) so I think you have to accept that as a valid position of ours, and contradictory to the line of reasoning you attempted here.

    I can tell you’re a sharp guy and therefore assume you’re aware of the gaps you’re strategically ignoring to draw your preferred conclusions, but for the benefit of everyone else, the big missing piece is that things like the Summer Concert Series are temporary with a lot of down time over night and during the off season, for nature to recover, versus the ball park modernization plan being a very dramatic permanent change from which there really can’t be any recovery.

    Again, not speaking for my whole team here, I personally don’t see much much chance at somehow changing people’s minds and rallying community support as you mention… I feel like people just tend to see this stuff in the way they’re “wired” to see it… you and I obviously see it from different angles and neither of us have any hope of changing each-other’s opinion. If your perspective winds up being the majority, that’s just how it goes and the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. The nice thing is, it’s a free country and we have these luxuries to exercise.

    We wish you peace.

  4. Keith Dunbar says:

    America is fortunate to have a “National System of Parks”; from National Parks, to State Parks, to regional and municipal parks. The establishment and development of parks represent the public will at the National, state and local level to promote the protection of special places (those having important natural and cultural attributes), and to provide for the public use and enjoyment of these places, including various forms of “re-creation” that are appropriate for each park. All parks provide value, but are established for different reasons, and provide for a wide range of experiences. This fact only enriches the purpose of parks, and the public use and enjoyment of them. With that said, lighted ball fields, synthetic turf and other active sports amenities are NOT appropriate at either National or WA State Parks, but are most appropriately a municipal function that should be supported by local tax dollars, via a local park and recreation district, which secures the needed land base within that municipality along with the development and operational funds to support it. It is WRONG for Kenmore to covet Saint Edwards State Park for these functions. The park was established for ALL the people of the State of Washington. What Kenmore is proposing is for a local municipal purpose. Active and organized recreation should be fully supported, but not at the expense of our State Park system and shared resources. Kenmore needs to find alternative spaces for these activities, and tax themselves accordingly, as most other communities have done for the past 100 years.

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