The Wellington Hills Sports Complex? No, it's NOT a done deal!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

In the current issue of the Woodinville Weekly

Letters to the Editor, Woodinville Weekly
Written by Ted Pankowski, Woodinville
Thank you for your coverage of the Snohomish County Parks Advisory Board action on the Wellington Hills County Park Master Plan. I attended their November 12 meeting in support of Neighbors to Save Wellington Park, (NSWP) our newly-formed association of local citizens in both King and Snohomish counties who support Wellington Park and are utterly opposed to the massive regional sports complex that Snohomish County Parks Department has advocated for this site.

As the minutes of the November 12 meeting show,  statements from the audience reaffirmed points that NSWP have been trying to bring to the public discussion ever since we were first informed of the draft plan in May 2012.

Mike O Grady, Woodinville excerpted comments - stated neighbors were not contacted in advance of May 2012 public meeting.

“This is a government run industrial sports complex. A private company would never be allowed to drop a commercial sports complex in a residential neighborhood

Larry Nelson, Woodinville, excerpted comments - steep road, rarely plowed. We don’t want to be located across from the new fields. A shame that this money is being spent on this project and should be used instead by the county sheriff’s office, etc.

Todd Bailey, Woodinville, representing Neighbors to Save Wellington Park,  excerpted comments - zoned rural. Concerns - commercial development located in a rural neighborhood.

This was not part of the county park comp plan in 2007. We were not contacted regarding input as to amenities and features of the property. We are asking you to downsize. Concerns regarding traffic and safety. Property value is projected to decline by experts. Suggested operating hours of the park will leave only eight hours for sleeping.

Ed Stevenson, Woodinville,  excerpted comments - largest private property owner adjacent to park. Concerns regarding cycling/bmx complex (public-private partnership).

Major  business taking up a lot of square footage. Please get assistance to assess risk vs. benefits of this enterprise that is not zoned as such.” Loss of green area.

Katrina Stewart, Woodinville, excerpted comments - this park is for the purpose of generating revenue. It does not benefit the neighborhood. It doesn’t make sense. What is the plan for traffic? Only a 2 -lane road. Not passable during snow.

No one at the meeting spoke in favor of the plan. Nonetheless, Parks Director Tom Teigen pressed forward with arguments he has been making since May 2013 at the start of the so-called public involvement plan:

Parks Advisory Board potential action on the Wellington Hills County Park Master Plan - Tom thanked audience for coming, and made other comments related to what the Brightwater Mitigation Agreement called for ( 40 + acre park for active recreation) with discussions and meetings held as far back as 2005 detailing the need for multipurpose, synthetic, lit athletic fields.

Tom stated: If approved by Board today, plan still needs to be approved and reviewed through the  SEPA process (approx. mid Feb 2013), etc., before moving forward. Important: there will still be opportunity to make comments and appeals before plan is finalized and sent to Council for final approval. Motion to approve. Seconded. One opposed. Nine affirmative.  Motion passed. • More comments from the audience.”

The intensity of the “more comments” referenced but not included in the minutes would show just how divisive this issue has become. The Parks Department is claiming it is just meeting contractual obligations imposed by the Brightwater Mitigation Agreement and that there is a local public demand for a sports-complex at Wellington, a claim that is as yet undocumented.

Moreover, Parks continues to ignore minimize or defer to the future the following substantive  points:

1) That its interpretation of the Brightwater Mitigation Agreement may be flawed. The agreement certainly wouldn’t require Snohomish County to ignore the needs of its own Comprehensive Plan  or the requirements of the Growth Management Act;

2) That there has been no public needs assessment for a regional sports facility in south Snohomish County. In fact, some of the proposed uses may be illegal outside of  an urban growth boundary. Wellington is a zoned rural area;

3) That Wellington may not be suitable for such a facility. Consider 700 parking spaces to service  two major recreational draws to its traffic “chokepoints”  —  Route 9 on the west and 156th (Bostian Road) to the east of 240th,  the only access road into and out of the park;

4) That alternative uses of the park, such as continuation of an active 82-year-old golf course, had not been seriously  considered.

5) That the changes made to the draft plan because of interactions with the neighboring communities have been little more than a  tweaking of  some features, appreciated but minimal at best.

Meanwhile, NSWP has seen the purchase of additional acreage to the park, the placement of fences (albeit attractive) along  both sides of 240th  and a stream of surveyors who represent a harbinger of the massive clearing and grading to come.

To learn more, and to see an outstanding photographic record, check out the following sites:
•http: // neighborsto

Thank you for your attention and support. We think the future well-being of our Wellington Hills communities are at stake! 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Is this ... with many more cars, all stacked up and motionless ... what's in store for 240th St.?

Monday, 11am, November 26, 2012

Thursday, November 22, 2012

my response to things stated in the Woodinville Weekly article

After you've read the Woodinville Weekly article about the Parks Advisory Board and their vote approving of the Wellington Hills Park plan ... I want to comment on Tom Tiegen's remarks about those who oppose his park plan.   

The first public meeting on the proposed park was held on May 8, 2012. And at that meeting, Tom Tiegen told the audience that the park in the form of a regional sports complex was a "done deal".  He then went on to say many of the same things that are in the Woodinville Weekly - people’s initial resistance and their eventual surrender to the park’s construction. 

As for the mentioned public process - I guess it depends on what "public process" means. At the first meeting, Tiegen stated he wanted to start construction on the park in October 2012. On that schedule, the tree cutters and bulldozers were to begin their work less than five months after the first public meeting.

Questions? The meetings at Brightwater were primarily slide-show and poster board presentations showing the various iterations of the Master Plan. The audience was encouraged to write questions on cards and to pass them to someone from the county. At one meeting, someone finally had an opportunity to ask about the SEPA process ... but Tiegen quickly took the mic away and re-directed the audience to come forward and look at the various drawings that were placed around the room.

The Wellington Hills Park plan is probably the largest single project of this type ever initiated within Snohomish County.  With that in mind, why hasn’t the proposed plan been throughly reviewed in the same any other major project is studied and reviewed?  For example, the Brightwater sewage plant site was rigorously studied, rigorously scrutinized and publicly reviewed by citizen groups, experts and numerous panels.  

This is Washington State - there are legal ways of doing these things and we typically don't rush into expensive projects. Yes, decisions can take time. And yes, studies and reviews are potentially expensive - but, isn’t that the idea - to get it right? 

Shouldn’t we do it right, rather than fast-track a major but non-essential project into construction? The consequences of sorting out problems afterwards is not only frustrating and messy, but typically more expensive - and quite possibly, no one will be happy.

Bill Stankus
Thanksgiving 2012

In the Woodinville Weekly - "Revised plans for Wellington Hills County Park move full steam ahead"

link to Woodinville Weekly

Revised plans for Wellington Hills County Park move full steam ahead

Written by Don Mann   

The Snohomish County Parks Advisory Board, at its Tuesday meeting, approved a revised master plan to construct a regional sports complex on the 100 acres where the Wellington Hills Golf & Country Club once stood.
The process now moves on to a State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) review, which, according to Snohomish County Park and Recreation Director Tom Tiegen, could be completed by the end of the calendar year.
The issue could be brought to the Snohomish County Council for final approval as early as late January or early March, Tiegen said.
The revised master plan calls for seven multi-use ballfields — including four lighted and composed of synthetic turf — a community center, two playgrounds, two dog parks and an indoor mountain bike facility, as well as an outdoor mountain bike course, a maintenance facility and picnic areas.
Most objectionable to those neighbors opposed to the plan, perhaps, is two asphalt parking lots combining over 700 spaces — about the same amount, they point out, that exist a half-mile south at Costco.
“Neighbors to Save Wellington Park” spokesman Todd Bailey attended the meeting along with about 30 group members — several of whom spoke during the public hearing — and was actually encouraged by the 9-1 vote.
“It means the county is starting to see the holes in their plan,” he wrote in an email.
“You have to remember that the advisory board has no legal or professional experience with parks. Them passing this only means the plans will go to county council.”
Bailey repeated the drumbeat he’s been banging since the county publicly announced its plan early this year: There have been no studies that show a need for this sports complex; the Wellington park is not in the county’s 2007-2012 Comprehensive Plan even though Brightwater mitigation was settled in 2005; it’s still not been decided if it is a legal use of those funds; the park is being placed inside a residential neighborhood outside the Urban Growth Boundary and, furthermore, the SEPA, traffic, noise, light and EPA studies have not yet been done.
Bailey has long maintained his group is not opposed to a sports park where the golf course used to be; they just don’t want one of this size and scope.
He was asked where his group goes from here.
“We can appeal their master plan when all the studies are done and go after things legally from there.”
Neighbors to Save Wellington Park retained legal counsel in July, and the organization still elicits financial contributions from its supporters to that end.
Regarding the meeting and the vote, Tiegen took a different tack.
“We’ve always encouraged folks to attend any and all of the public meetings,” he said. “It’s part of the public process and every speaker gets their three minutes. We welcome that.”
He noted that the lone no-voter on the Parks Board Tuesday stated a concern about the indoor mountain bike facility, which will not be built until Phase 2 of the project, in perhaps two or three more years when the funding is there.
He also noted during his time as SnoCo parks director, building maybe a dozen parks, there have always been pockets of detractors, and he appreciated their concerns but the parks have ultimately been successful.
“People need to know that we have thousands of folks very supportive of this park. Soccer people  —there are 440 teams in the Northshore area alone looking to be serviced especially during this time of year when fields are unplayable, lacrosse people, bike people, trail runners…people are excited.”
He said there would be three miles of paved running trails, akin to Greenlake, and other “soft surface” trails.
He said earlier plans were modified to allow local residents pedestrian access to the park, at their request.
He talked about traffic improvements, environmental improvements, though  clearly not specifically.
“We hope we’ve achieved a balanced approach to weighty concerns from local folks’ needs with those of the broader community.”
Tiegen said there would be more meetings to get locals on board, and opponents would have additional opportunities to vent disapproval.
But what happens now is this: After the SEPA review is sent to the council and they make a decision, opponents will have an opportunity for a formal appeal.
If the council goes ahead and approves the project, opponents will have an opportunity to take it to a hearing examiner for ultimate decision.
The legal costs would be massive for both sides.
“I’ve never had one get that far,” Tiegen said.
Said Bailey, already anticipating such a happenstance: “It’s sad when Snohomish County is facing budget cuts and looking at laying people off … is looking at spending $20 million-plus on a park that is not even needed.
“My question is why not come up with a good plan from the start and not waste money on legal issues. It’s time for the county to be fiscally responsible with the taxpayers’ money. Remember, all the mitigation money came from King County taxpayers.”
direct link to article

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Neighbors to Save Wellington Park Facebook page

Facebook, while extraordinary popular, hasn't reached everyone. For those few that haven't seen the Neighbors to Save Wellington Park page and want to chime in and help save the park from bulldozers, tree cutting and that nasty bugaboo, over-development with it's field lights and huge parking lots and traffic snarls ...

Here's a screen shot of our page, please join in and support Neighbors to Save Wellington Park.

Thank you.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012