Kenmore, WA, Ball Fields Public Meeting 2-23-16

By Judy Finn
A public meeting entitled “St. Edward State Park Ballfield Improvements Open House” was held by the City of Kenmore.on Feb. 23 from 7 – 8:30 pm and consisted of a 40-minute presentation conducted by City Manager, Rob Karlinsey, with additional input from Development Director, Debbie Bent, and Council Member, Brent Smith, plus three hired consultants; and a 30-minute segment for public comments and Q&A. In a nutshell, the city of Kenmore wants to sign a 30-year lease at Saint Edward with no lease payments to State Parks and develop 3.5 acres into a set of high tech ball fields with the following features:

  1. Synthetic (not crumb rubber) turf with a 6-inch deep, grated water detention system claimed to be more environmentally-friendly than grass because there would be no fertilizer run-off;
  2. LED lighting which is to have less “spill light” and “sky glow” than the old halide technology; poles would be 70’ – 80’ high;
  3. A pervious concrete border and 4 ft. chain link fence around the entire perimeter of the field to keep cars out;
  4. Covered dugouts, bleachers and a storage structure.

The city expects to fund this through its “cash reserves” if the project is not approved on the “Imagine Kenmore” ballot measure in Nov. 2016. Cost estimate is $2 – 3 million. The 2008 “Critical Areas Report” is being updated. A hired traffic consultant, Kendra Breiland, said based on her analysis “traffic implications would be relatively minor” and that traffic cues would move relatively quickly through the signal at N.E. 145th and Juanita Drive.

Two things I found particularly questionable were alleged justifications cited by Karlinsey for the city’s proposal:

  1. The State Parks 2013 “Transformation Strategy” – http://parks.state.wa.us/DocumentCenter/Home/View/304 – reading through this document it is very difficult to find anything that justifies State Parks leasing land without producing any revenue for the State Parks system. The proposal is to basically locate a small city park inside the middle of a state park for activity which does not fulfill the mission of State Parks nor the passive outdoor recreation purpose for which Saint Edward was acquired. The land as it exists already fulfills dual purposes as a wetland which supports natural amenities; and as an area for scheduled and casual outdoor seasonal play. Developing a city-type sports field does nothing to either enhance State Parks mission nor increase its revenue. Development could possibly offset costs that State Parks currently incurs for maintenance of the existing grass field but that is not yet determined and would seem unlikely to produce sufficient justification. The city claims new ballfileds would result in more revenue from sale of Discover Passes but that is only speculative as revenue is produced by number of vehicles not by number of visitors.

  2. Lack of available flat land in Kenmore – this is not justification for taking over State Park land. Proponents did not produce any information to demonstrate that other alternatives had been explored and rejected on a sound basis. The main complaint seemed to be having to drive to venues outside the city limits and perhaps not having pride of ownership of a hometown field.

Questions about parking, restrooms, concession stands, electronic scoreboard and cost of ongoing maintenance were asked but left unanswered.

A rough estimate of 150+ attended the meeting including several rows of children in baseball gear. Twelve people rose to speak. Ten, including several current and former league coaches, spoke in favor. Two, including former council member John Hendrickson, spoke against. A record of the meeting is supposed to be posted at http://www.kenmorewa.gov/content/public-meeting-athletic-fields-saint-edward-state-park but nothing is there to date.

The city will present its proposal to the State Parks Commission in Tumwater on March 31. Karlinsey encouraged proponents and opponents to attend.

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2 Responses to Kenmore, WA, Ball Fields Public Meeting 2-23-16

  1. Bob Graff says:

    What follows is my “unabridged” testimony (my oral testimony was shorter due to time constraints) provided at the Feb. 23rd meeting at Kenmore City Hall regarding the renovation of ballfields at St. Edward State Park. Additionally, two additional points:
    – First, in response to item #2 above, about eight years ago, proposals were made by advocates of active parks to renovate/construct ballfields in two other city locations – Moorlands Park and Swamp Creek Park. My recollection is that the vocal opposition to this current proposal voiced opposition to those plans as well.
    – Second, two of the concerns regarding this proposal revolve around impact on wetlands and loss of overflow parking for special events. So I question whether parking dozens of vehicles, some of which more likely than not leak certain vehicles fluids, so close to a wetland area is good environmental practice.

    Now, my written testimony submitted 2/23:

    My name is Bob Graff and I am a Citizen for St. Edward State Park.

    Since arriving in Kenmore from Ohio over 10 years ago, St. Ed’s has served as our family’s big back yard. It is where I go numerous times every week to enjoy solitary hikes through the forest and by the waterside. In years gone by, it is where I spent time with my wife and children enjoying the playground, trails, great lawn and swimming pool. For I have always understood the importance of providing outdoor, active recreational opportunities for children.

    So as a Citizen for St. Edward State Park, I advocate for the continued appropriate balance of conservation, recreation and historic preservation within park boundaries.

    Someone with more knowledge can correct me if I am wrong, but as far as I can see, the vast majority of the park is dedicated to passive use, primarily hiking/walking, and wildlife habitat. There are some forested areas and vast open spaces that are available for other recreational opportunities – biking, the playground, special events, and so on. And there is one 5 acre parcel containing existing structures and I am happy there is a current viable proposal that will allow for the presvervation of the historic Seminary Buidling.

    So when I look at this proposal to renovate the existing ballfield area so it can improve the availability of outdoor recreational opportunities for our community’s children, I wholeheartedly support the proposal and see it within the appropriate balance of conservation, recreation and historic preservation.

    Will the renovation of the existing ballfield area bring more noise and traffic into the park? Absolutely. Will it dramtically impact my ability to enjoy my peaceful, solitary hikes through the forest? Absolutely not. I have often hiked the trails when the ballfield and other open spaces are being used for cricket matches (trust me, they get loud), company picnics, bike races, and other special events. And I have always found that once I get a short distance away from the open areas, the sounds associated with those activites fall away. In fact, the biggest disruption to the peace and natural sounds of the forest is more often the boat traffic and float planes utilizing Lake Washingon.

    Regarding traffic concerns in relation to the proposed ballfield renovation, let’s keep in mind that Little League baseball games have been taking place for decades at Bastyr. Therefore, this renovation will not significantly increase traffic flow from Juanita into the St. Edward/Bastyr entrance. Additionally, having a large playground, trails and a renovated Seminary building on the same premises as the ballfields will allow families to enjoy other aspects of the park before and after games, thereby limiting the “floods” of cars coming and going at one time. Also, given that Bastyr has been such a supportive partner of Little Leagues, I am confident that if some “overflow” parking is needed at especially busy times on the ballfields, they will look for ways to accomodate the need as they have for years.

    Furthermore, will this proposal interfere with other uses of this area of the park? Beyond the cricket matches – which seem to be addressed in the proposal already – I don’t believe so. The most common use of this area from my experience is small groups of people using the exisiting ballfield for practice or games. In fact, following a hike through the forest this weekend – and it was a busy day in the park – I sat next to the ballfield area for some time to see how many people utilized it. There was one – a gentleman practicing his fly fishing.

    Keep in mind that I have no selfish interest in the ballfield proposal. My children have been away from Little League for many years and my primary use of St. Edward State Park is hiking the trails. However, I view this proposal as better meeting the needs of my greater community – especially the children.

    Finally, to critics of this plan who may see it as detrimental or a risk to the natural aspects of the park, I have a challenge. Become a partner with the users of the renovated ballfields and utilize the St. Edward Environmental Learning Center to provide educational opportunities to children and families attending ballgames. It would be very simple to set up information tables and fun hands-on activities – especially for siblings of ballplayers – to help inform and educate them about the park and environmental issues in our region.

    So in summary, I support this proposal within an effort to achieve an appropriate balance of conservation, recreation, and preservation within the boundaries of St. Edward State Park.

    Thank you for the opportunity to share my input. I look forward to the day I can finish a hike at St. Ed’s, wander to the ballfield area, witness a Little League baseball game, and cherish the memories of my own children doing the same so many years ago.

  2. Grazyna says:

    Re.: ORIGINAL CONTRACT of SALE – St. EDWARD Seminary
    I want to remind that I submitted written documentation – the Public Comments both on February 9, 2016 and February 16, 2016 as OPEN LETTER so the public can read. Kenmore Mayor on February 16, 2016 while I talked during the council meeting stated that the letter will be forwarded to Parks Commission – I want to make it clear – two sets of documentation was given – one for the City of Kenmore – so read it, please – I stated that one copy of documentation should be made for the public to read…..
    ORIGINAL CONTRACT of SALE – St. EDWARD Seminary – how can it be located (the Seattle Archdiocese does not have it, neither King County).

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