Laurelhurst Community Club
Councilmember Nick Licata, Chair
Culture, Arts and Parks Committee
Seattle City Council
11th Floor, Municipal Building
600 Fourth Avenue
Seattle, Washington 98104-1876
Re: Issues and Concerns relating to Sand Point/Magnuson Park Management and Planning
Dear Councilmember Licata and Other City Council Members:
The groundwork has been laid to transform Sand Point Magnuson Park into the finest park in our region. C. David Hughbanks has demonstrated talent and vision as evidenced by the recent wetlands forum and charrette. But, problems continue due to lack of communication, lack of community involvement other than by special interests, lack of information about park planning and failure to designate an advisory committee as called for by the Sand Point Blue Ribbon Committee. We offer the following comments and endorse the July 11th comments of our Hawthorne Hills neighbor, Bonnie Miller.
Failure to designate an advisory committee: The Sand Point Blue Ribbon Committee, chaired by former Mayor Charles Royer, recommended creation of an advisory committee to advise the City on major planning, management and policy issues. This committee has not been designated. Due to continued lack of communication and dysfunctional attempts to involve interested and impacted communities, we wrote to you in April 2001 recommending that the Sand Point Community Liaison Committee be designated as the official advisory committee. Many northeast Seattle neighborhoods and interested groups send representatives to this group. It makes sense to us that the Liaison Committee be the official advisory committee. That committee could be reconstituted to include experts in law, finance, real estate, property management and landscape architecture as called for by the Blue Ribbon Committee.
Lack of communication: There have been serious communication problems regarding Sand Point/Magnuson Park development. Nobody seems to know what is going on unless a person happens to be a part of the inner circle of communicants with C. David Hughbanks. Decisions seem to be made behind closed doors or on the telephone. There is little accountability to the impacted communities and the City. There is no thoughtful discussion of the many issues that arise. This must change. The situation could be remedied in part if you all instructed Mr. Hughbanks to attend the Liaison Committee monthly meetings to brief the community and seek input.
Instead, the Parks Department and Mr. Hughbanks have shown virtually no respect for the Liaison Committee and its many accomplishments. In 1974, Mayor Uhlman designated the Sand Point Liaison Committee to act as a bridge between neighborhoods, city government and various federal agencies. Since then, the Committee under Ms. Williams' leadership has worked tirelessly in development of the Citizens Plan later supported by the Blue Ribbon Committee and park planning issues. The Liaison Committee has a deep understanding of Sand Point/Magnuson Park issues and a long history of community support and involvement. Despite this history, the Parks Department, for personality or other reasons, refuses to work with the Liaison Committee.
Lack of community involvement other than special interests: The Parks Department has done an excellent job in mobilizing the special interests to gain support and to create a "record" of community involvement--those involved in athletic fields, tennis, wetlands, sailing and the like. There has been, however, no central clearinghouse to involve the neighborhoods and groups interested in implementing the overall vision of the park. This is a serious mistake.
Lack of information about park planning: Groups interested in creating our finest regional park have few tools to know what is going on. The Parks Department website has no direct link to the Sand Point/Magnuson Park website. The Washington Park Arboretum, the Woodlawn Park Zoo and the Aquarium have direct links, the Sand Point/Magnuson Park does not. Why? It's complicated to get there is you do not know the website address. A Parks website user must go to Arts and Culture, then the A-Z index, then to Sand Point/Magnuson Park. Why is it so difficult for citizens to find this information?
The Sand Point/Magnuson Park website includes links to many groups involved with park planning--the Community Garden, the Magnuson Park Environmental Stewardship Alliance, the Promontory Point Rehabilitation Program, the Magnuson Off-Leash Group, etc. There is, however, no link to the Sand Point Community Liaison Committee. Citizens are encouraged to get involved in the various user groups or special interest groups, but not in any group that has a major interest in the park as a whole.
The Sand Point/Magnuson Park website states that the Sand Point Magnuson Park Implementation Plan was presented to the City Council on June 1st of this year with a 10-year capital plan, a public participation plan and an environmental review schedule. While we understand that these materials have not been provided to Council, the website says they have. These important documents should be available for public review on the website. These materials have also not been provided to the Liaison Committee, just another example of the total lack of respect for the important work of that committee. The courts illumination study and the vegetation plan referenced on the website, if they in fact have been completed, should be available on the website.
These are just a few of our concerns about the continuing problems at Sand Point/Magnuson Park. We hope you will discuss these issues with Parks Superintendent Ken Bounds and management at Sand Point/Magnuson Park. We look forward to hearing back from you on this matter.
Jeannie Hale, President
Kate Lloyd, Magnuson Park Liaison
4303 NE 35th Street
Seattle, Washington 98105
522-8822 / fax 526-5525
cc: Ken Bounds, C. David Hughbanks, Eric Friedli