Laurelhurst Community Club†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††
Serving 2800 Households in
April 3, 2002
Council President Peter Steinbreck
Seattle City Council
11th Floor, Municipal Building
600 Fourth Avenue
Seattle, Washington 98104-1876 Fax 684-8587
RE: Joint Athletic Facilities Development Program (JAFDP)
Dear Council President Steinbreck:
The Laurelhurst Community Club Board of Trustees commends you on your efforts to obtain information from the Parks Department about the many issues and questions about the Joint Athletic Field Development Program (JAFDP) raised by Council Central Staff in your memorandum of February 21st. Without this information, it is impossible for councilmembers and the Board of Park Commissioners to make informed decisions.
No correlation between field use demand and increase in field capacity: The staff memorandum raised many important issues such as the lack of correlation between field use demand and proposed increases in field capacity. While recognizing the need for additional field space, staff correctly pointed out that the JAFDP does not address how much field capacity the City can and should provide given the costs and potential impacts. What is "reasonable accommodation of field user demand" is important to define in the JAFDP as suggested.
Public Involvement Issues: Issues about flaws in the public involvement process are valid and should be addressed as suggested in the memorandum. The Parks Department selected various sites for field improvement and yet came to the conclusion afterwards that "Sites should be selected where impacts to surrounding neighbors can be minimized and mitigated measures can be maximized." There is no way of knowing whether impacts can be minimized and mitigated unless these issues are examined prior to field selection. We agree that impacts of field improvements should be considered during a public involvement process prior to selection of which fields will be improved and also should be considered as part of the funding procurement process. To do otherwise would allow a pre-determined outcome that is not dependent upon the public involvement process. It is insufficient to assess impacts after the fact in the environmental review process. Money secured for the project may be insufficient to pay for the necessary mitigation at that stage of the process.
We are well aware of the Parks Department's public involvement process. At some point in the future, these policies should be examined because they are often costly, ineffective and do not involve all interested parties.
Cost/Revenues for Maintenance: Given the City's current financial shortfalls, it is important that questions relating to funding of on-going maintenance be reviewed. While King County is forced to close its parks, Seattle appears to be moving forward with many field projects with no assurance funds will be available for on-going maintenance and no documentation of the revenues that will be brought in from the organized sports community. It is important that the Council and citizens have the answers to the questions listed prior to moving forward.
Light standards: The memorandum asks whether it is appropriate for the Parks Department to exclude its lighting policy from the JAFDP. This is particularly important to review in light of the lack of trust between neighborhoods and the Parks Department as documented in the memorandum. If lighting standards are addressed under the Director's Rules, then the Council will have no say in the content of these important rules. We appreciate your recommendation, Council President Steinbrueck, that lights be shut off at 9 p.m. with exceptions for later times based on well-defined and well-publicized criteria.
The Laurelhurst Community Club is committed to an appropriate balance between the growing need for athletic fields, while at the same time being sensitive to the concerns of impacted communities and the fiscal implications. Your efforts in seeking answers to the many issues associated with the JAFDP from the Parks Department are an important step to ensure that the Council and the Parks Commission have the tools necessary to make informed decisions.
Thank you again for your efforts to seek a balanced approach to these issues and to resolve the many remaining questions. We appreciate your work and the excellent objective analysis of issues prepared by Council Central Staff. We look forward to reviewing the response from the Parks Department.
Jeannie Hale, President
3425 West Laurelhurst Drive NE
Seattle, Washington 98105
206-525-5135 / fax 206-525-9631
cc: Other City Councilmembers, Board of Park Commissioners, Mayor Nickels, Superintendent Ken Bounds, Superintendent Joseph Olchefske