I have lived in Kenmore for 18 years. I have never lived that long in one community and consider Kenmore my home. It has not been without its challenges, including the most recent of our city absorbing rush-hour traffic due to the new tolls on I-405. We have some road safety issues on Juanita Way which never seem fully addressed. I am very aware of these issues personally as I live right on Juanita Way and St Edward State Park is essentially my backyard. There used to be a lovely, albeit small, greenbelt in between Juanita Way and my backyard, but it was torn out and replaced with an intersection which has not been well maintained.
I have been following the issue of the Seminary at St Edward State Park and have been disheartened by the most recent proposition to preserve the building by turning into a hotel and restaurant so that “people from all over the world” will be drawn to our little park. St Edwards is located in a quiet neighborhood, and I personally don’t want a hotel in my backyard. In addition, there is an elementary school that is on the border of St Edwards that is a safe and protected area. Since there are shared trails, that there likely would be non-local people ending up on school grounds which, as a parent, is not something I feel comfortable with.
St Edwards, at the city council meeting, was compared to Mt Rainier National Forest and Yellowstone, which made me wonder if anyone had been to any of these parks. I can walk St Edward’s in about 50 minutes. It takes about 10 days to hike the base of Mt Rainier, which is a significant difference. I don’t think comparing St Edwards to the massive forests of Mt Rainier and Yellowstone makes much sense.
Aside from personally not wanting a hotel in our community, I have great concern for the animals and what little wild is left of the park. Currently, there is still wildlife at St Edward State Park including a small pack of coyotes, deer, owl, other birds, raccoon, squirrel, and chipmunk. Very rarely, I can hear the coyotes and am reminded of nature and how much humans have encroached on animal homes and habitats. If the coyotes leave the park, there are only neighborhoods and no other natural habitats in the area. It is rarely a good outcome for predator animals (or any animals, for that matter) to end up in someone’s backyard. These animals will be treated like intruders (likely to be “euthanized”), when actually humans are the ones who are intruding.
I understand that the Seminary is dilapidated and that is too bad. I understand about the desire to preserve the building, but what about preserving the nature, the animals, the trees, the sanctity, the solitude, and the sacredness of the park? Is this one of those common situations where whomever has the most money wins? If so, this is a big problem for the animals, as they have no bank accounts. If there is no choice but to renovate the building, I believe the purpose of the building should be compatible with the park and community such as community rooms, a sports facility, a conservation museum or information on habitat (like our local rivers, salmon runs, and the plight of the Orcas) which elementary classes could visit on a field trip. I personally would rather have a dilapidated building than a park that no longer holds all that it holds now for our community, most importantly the small piece of quiet wild.
Jordan Anderson, Kenmore