The April 16 article written by Joshua Adam Hicks about the Kenmore City Council voting against building a sports field at Wallace Swamp Creek Park (WSCP) is very close and dear to my heart. I have lived in Kenmore since the age of 9. I played Little League ball, soccer, football and tennis as I worked my way through the Northshore School District as a student at Lockwood Elementary, Kenmore Junior High and Inglemoor High. I’m a huge fan of youth athletics and feel that more should be done by rural municipalities to ensure that our youth has places to play sports of all kinds.
The problem is suitable land for youth sports is simply next to impossible to find at a cost that small cities like Kenmore can afford. Unfortunately, the idea of building a sports field at WSCP was doomed from the get-go, but the vast majority of the councilmembers failed to recognize the obvious warning signs that practically hit them in the face and instead insisted to proceed to spend valuable time and money to pursue the idea. The mere fact the city elected to focus efforts on building a sports field in a park that’s name, “Wallace SWAMP Creek Park,” shows just how desperate both the city and Kenmore Little League are for more land to play sports. The problem is the word “Swamp,” which is a key characteristic for which the park is named after, should have been the first obvious indicator to ALL that this was not a good site for which to pursue building a sports field. We all know oil and water don’t mix, and the same can be said for building an active use sports field on swamp land that has more than 100 years worth of known history of flooding on a regular basis.
On many occasions since 2005 when the topic for adding more sports fields to the city of Kenmore’s parks came up, I was joined by others in spending countless hours attending City Council meetings, study sessions and neighborhood meetings on this issue. For three years, the city was urged to explore other locations, as WSCP simply had too many issues like wetlands and flooding to overcome without spending a fortune of taxpayer’s dollars. In addition were the costs to the environment that a sports field would have had on both residents and migratory animals, birds and fish. The home for which my family has resided for the past five years borders WSCP. My family regularly encounters beavers, otters, owls, bald eagles, flying squirrels, deer, pheasants, quail, spawning salmon, steelhead, trout and much more. Building a sports field at WSCP most definitely would have had a negative impact to the fragile environment and ecosystem. Unfortunately, my concerns, as well as others’, went ignored and/or were discounted by most of the councilmembers as their pursuit for adding a sports field seemed to take precedent over everything else, including enormous rising costs to build at WSCP.
Because our group felt strongly that the city and Kenmore Little League indeed could use more sports fields as long as the right location could be found, we spent countless hours reviewing other areas within the city limits for suitable sites. After reviewing many potential options, we finally found a location where a full-sized Little League ball field could be built. The site we presented to Parks Manager Bill Evans, as well as to councilmembers, was Moorlands Park. The reasons for focusing on Moorlands Park as the ideal location for a new sports field are as follows:
• The park is owned by the city.
• Currently, it already has one ball field, so the area is already accustomed to this type of activity taking place there.
• A second full-sized ball field could easily be added to the area of the park located opposite the current ball field.
• There are no wetland or flooding issue of any kind, which means no land mitigation would be needed.
• More than enough parking is already currently in place to accommodate two ball fields.
• The costs to taxpayers to build a new ball field there would be significantly less than any other site that was being considered, including WSCP.
To ensure the location was a site that should be seriously considered as a future ball field for Kenmore Little League, I personally went to the Moorlands Park site with councilmember John Hendrickson to take measurements of the purposed location for a second ball field. As mentioned already, we found that a full-sized Little League ball field could easily be configured to fit in the purposed space in a number of ways. The only issue is there would need to be some slight grading done to the land, as it has a slight slope on a portion of the proposed site. In addition, two maple trees would need to be removed. All other trees would be left untouched.
Our group then took our findings and presented them to councilmembers at a number of City Council meetings during the public-comments section of the meetings. For some reason still unknown to this day, councilmembers, with the exception of Hendrickson, turned a deaf ear to the Moorlands Park idea. The only reason given for not wanting to place a second ball field there is that during neighborhood meetings chaired by Evans, apparently there was a strong objection by the neighborhood. The odd thing about this is that at every location that was considered by Evans and councilmembers as a possible sports-field site, there was the same strong objection by neighborhoods across the board. Why was this standard only applied to the Moorlands Park site? The question that needs to be answered is what made the Moorlands Parks neighborhood any more special than any of the other locations that were studied, including WSCP? Evans and councilmembers have yet to answer this question.
If the city of Kenmore truly wants to build a cost-effective and environmentally friendly ball field for Kenmore Little League, then they already have the perfect location sitting right in front of them. As a former Little Leaguer, I would like to see more ball fields get built, as long as they are in environmentally friendly locations. I would hope for Kenmore Little League’s sake that the city reconsiders the Moorlands Park location.
Todd Bergmann is a Kenmore resident.