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

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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