Council nixes ball-field plan
March 30, 2009 · Updated 7:33 PM
Wetlands and a legal opinion spelled end of ball diamond in Wallace Park
Although Kenmore City Council took no definitive vote, several sources say any plans for a new baseball field in Wallace Swamp Creek Park have struck out and aren’t likely to get back up to the plate.
Mayor David Baker said council set the idea aside upon recommendation of City Attorney Rod Kaseguma.
The presence of wetlands long have complicated plans for a ball field in Wallace Park. Backers had hoped a special exemption might allow field construction to move ahead. But disagreement cropped up over whether a Public Agency Utility Exemption (PAUE) would apply to an athletic field.
According to Baker and others, Kaseguma’s answer was “no.”
“We’ve really found that there’s not a strong argument for the PAUE,” said Councilwoman Laurie Sperry.
Baker said there were some thoughts about changing the PAUE rules, but that idea also appears dead for lack of support.
Swamp Creek and the ball field were scheduled to be a discussion item at least one more time at Kenmore’s March 23 council meeting. The topic never came up.
“There was really no impetus for us to talk about it,” Baker said, stating once more that the issue is, for all intents and purposes, settled.
The latest round of just-ended talks don’t represent the first time the idea of a ball field in Wallace Park has surfaced. The notion has drawn strong opponents and supporters both on council and among the general public. While he said he appreciates the need for more athletic fields in Kenmore, resident Todd Bergmann undoubtedly has been among the loyal opposition regarding a Wallace Park ball field.
Bergmann is the president of the grassroots group “Save Wallace Swamp Creek Park.”
“Our group’s intent is to protect a very sensitive, passive park,” he said.
With an attorney helping them fight their fight, Bergmann contends use of a PAUE in this case would not have been appropriate. He argued that the bypassing of wetland preservation rules allowed by a PAUE was intended strictly for instances involving the placing of utilities and not intended to encompass a ball field.
Even one of the strongest voices for a new field concedes Wallace Park is probably no longer a viable option.
“While we still consider Wallace Swamp Creek Park to be an ideal location for a ball field, we also understand the practical realities and the obstacles facing the city,” said Brent Smith in a letter sent to City Council.
Smith is the leader of another grassroots group, Families for Active Parks in Kenmore. His letter goes on to ask that city officials don’t waste any more time or resources in the development of a field at Wallace Park. Instead, Smith has presented the city with four possible alternatives, at least one of which Baker said decidedly has merit.
The city apparently already is talking with Bastyr University regarding public use of ball fields there.
“Bastyr has been a really good neighbor,” Baker said, adding the city might be able to gain access to existing fields on the medical school campus.
In his letter and later, Smith also talked about the possibility of a field at Moorland Park. According to Smith and others, the park’s master plan includes a ball field.
But Smith also admitted there might be problems connected with placing what would be a second field at Moorland including parking issues.
Smith still would like to see a baseball field at the north end of Kenmore, an area he said currently is underserved. He further talked about placing a field on commercial or industrial property along the Sammamish River, though Smith admitted that last idea is likely a long shot.