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Future of Saint Edward Park at stake | Letter
Saint Edward State Park is a jewel in the crown of public lands on the shore of Lake Washington and offers a unique opportunity for visitors from around the Puget Sound region to experience the natural environment. The property was purchased by Washington State taxpayers under the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund in 1977 and is to be retained in perpetuity for outdoor recreation. Now there is a proposal by State Parks, as reported in your paper on Nov. 27, to convert the Park’s seminary building and surrounding grounds into a private office park complex. This proposal is a hastily devised plan which will compromise the intended recreational uses of the publicly purchased state park and impose long term limitations on future park users.
There is an upcoming public meeting in Kenmore scheduled for Jan. 14. It will be followed on Jan. 23 by the State Parks Commission meeting in Olympia where the park’s future will be determined.
There are a number of problems with this proposal, not the least of which is an artificially accelerated decision date that minimizes the time the public has to digest critical information and provide meaningful input to the State Parks Commission before action will be taken. A carefully crafted blueprint for long term planning at Saint Edward, called the “Classification and Management Plan (CAMP),” was adopted Oct. 20, 2008 by State Parks in cooperation with area citizens. It makes clear the use of the seminary building, located in the center of the park, is subordinate to the land as a natural sanctuary and place of outdoor recreation. The 316 acres must be treated as an integrated whole not subdivided sections.
There are unique challenges due to the seminary building’s size and condition that require careful planning. Parks planners have not exercised due diligence in seeking an appropriate solution. The public has a very critical role to play in determining the outcome at Saint Edward. The most effective way to do this is to write directly to the six State Parks Commissioners who make decisions on projects of this magnitude. For more information visit www.parks.wa.gov/agency/commissionmeetings. The future of the park is at stake.
Judy Finn, Seattle