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

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Change one thing, expect large ripples

Building the proposed Wellington Hills Park Sports Complex just might be the same as pulling a loose string in mommy's wool sweater.  Pull hard enough and the sweater is ruined.  Guess what? That heirloom sweater will never be the same. Snohomish County seems to be in the string pulling business.

The issue of the County's inappropriate plan for a "Regional Tournament-level Sports Complex" is fueled by several factors:

• To build the Brightwater Sewage Plant in Snohomish County, King County gave Snohomish County 70 million mitigation dollars ... which caused Snohomish County authorities to swoon (free money!).

• The nearby Brightwater Sewage Plant is a housing, infrastructure & business growth generator.

• Special interest groups and land developers whispered their siren songs to County authorities.

• In existence, near Brightwater, is a quiet rural community with a jewel-like park.

• The plan: A Sports Complex with artificial turf fields, stadium lights, PA systems, 50,000 sq. ft. indoor sports fields w/ offices, 60,000 sq. ft. indoor mountain bike building & parking for more than 750 cars...

Brightwater Sewage Plant

Wellington Hills Park
In the backwash of the mitigation agreement, a community park was to be provided for those living near Brightwater.  That wasn't good enough for the County, a community park was myopic - They wanted a park that would generate revenue ... So, instead of an appropriately designed park for local residents they proposed a humongous sports complex.

Once again, we're facing another short-sighted version of Manifest Destiny: There's 100 acres of land (the park) - "Let's develop it!" ... We're witnessing another attempt that spreads urbanization where it need not be.  This is local version of the story that's transformed the United States, with all it's aftershocks and fallouts ... sprawl - traffic jams - unnecessary noise and light pollution - almost no land-use planning - spread-out population - minimal effort to design harmony between people and nature leaving people with jangled nerves and zero tranquility.

The following photos are the arc of the boom years of World War II to the present.

It begins with a bulldozer and it never quite ends … except it will probably end badly for both humans and the planet.

It certainly will end badly for Wellington Hills and Woodinville Washington.

Bulldozing orange tree orchards

mass produced housing

frame houses for single families

row upon row

housing engulfs orchards

The myth was born - everyone could own a "castle"

Business was good, lines of people look at model homes

Instant neighborhoods

Old was out, freeways were in

Today's version of a super highway

 Today's landscape: distant city, freeways and sprawl

Of course more cars are needed

Tract homes in the 1960s

Tract homes 2013

Instead of urban planning, every community has this

factories get bigger - people want stuff

Oil is needed for all those homes, cars and factories

Offshore oil is also a boom industry

Coal is in big demand

Open pit mining for more and more consumables

Waste on a grand scale

e waste, another booming business

But, hey, that's progress, right?

Tell me again why a sports complex is more important than a Green Space?

Wellington Hills Park Trees

Photos are from LIFE Google,  Edward Burtynsky's "Manufactured Landscapes" and several are mine.

Bill Stankus
April 2013

Monday, April 22, 2013

In the light of day

They stand immovable, tall and silent sentinels; reminiscent of the fictional Martian invaders in the movie, War Of The Worlds.

The lights in the photos are located at the downtown Woodinville fields … a good location for such bright lights.

On the other hand, the Snohomish County Invaders have proposed similar field-stadium lights for Wellington Hills Park.

Can it be said enough …the area surrounding Wellington Hills Park is residential and the tall, light pole sentinels will have a terrible and adverse effect on the local community.

It takes a certain kind of mindset to say with a straight face: "Live with the lights for a few years, you'll come to like them." 

Sorry, not on this planet. Martians go home.

photos by
Bill Stankus

April 2013

Monday, April 15, 2013

You can't see the forest for the trees

Or, in this case, you don't see Wellington Hills Park, as a park, simply because of several prime reasons.

1.Your are in a hurry, you're always a hurry …

Gotta get to work, Gotta get to the store. Gotta get home. Gotta get the kid to something.

2. You've forgotten what a park is because there are so few of them.

The Northwest has plenty of tall tree vistas. The total package of trees, clouds, with either the Cascades or the Olympics in the background, combine to make a person feel as if Nature was close … in fact it's mostly distant eye candy.

3.  If you frequently drive Route 9, after a while, you put on metaphorical binders.  Route 9 has mostly industrial-commercial businesses built close to the road and almost all the business have zero curb appeal.

Driving Rt. 9 with the purpose of going home via 240th St., chances are you've grown accustomed to the road's visual harshness.  Consequently, after the gauntlet of the ugly landscape, you blast through Wellington Hills Parks, more or less ignoring its jewel-like quality.

Of course, Snohomish County's Department of Parks and Recs wants to change all that. For the better? No! They want to destroy one of the VERY FEW PUBLIC GREEN PLACES in the Woodinville vicinity. … they're happy as clams in a nutrient rich tide (aka mitigation money) … they own the Park and they can't wait to bring noisy, congested ugliness onto the plateau - exactly where people live, exactly where people don't want noise, congestion, bright lights and a meddling local government.

A sampling of views along Rt. 9 and 240th St SE at Rt. 9

Photos by Bill Stankus
April 14, 2013

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Revisiting a bad idea

First, the geography lesson

1. See Snohomish County on map.

2. See locations of major Snohomish County cities.

3. See tiny dot at southern border of Snohomish County.

4. See, tiny dot is location of proposed "Regional Park" aka, Wellington HIlls Sports Complex.

5. See colorful drawing.

Using Snohomish County's Department of Parks and Recs "Official Master Plan," I colored over the proposed developed areas:

which are

a. Boundary lines of Park
b. The hard surfaces (sports fields, parking lots, buildings, rent--a-picnic tables and kiddie mazes)
c. General use trails
d. Pond w/ "daylighted" stream
e.  The maintenance house area is Xed out in red.

Conclusion … It sure looks like a lot more of the Park is being developed than has been described by County workers, especially after hearing the touts, "less than 25% of the park will have imperious surfaces".

Ah, the art of speaking with qualifiers, conditionals and with crossed fingers.

PS: After almost a year of following the elephant-in-the-room, I wonder ...

We know government  people "need" to attend conferences which are usually held in far away places ... Hawaii, the Caribbean, Cancun or Disney World … you know, places dedicated to fine-tuning the workplace experience.

Anyway, I don't know for certain, but I think sending parks people to conferences in Las Vegas, Disneyland or whatever city has the Super Bowl just sets the wrong mood when it comes to designing neighborhood parks.

You know what I mean, local parks for people wanting to relax; they wear walking shoes, talk to each other, stroll while holding hands, stop and smell the flowers, picnic on the ground, notice birds and squirrels, toss a Frisbee for 5 minutes, eat sandwiches, drink beer/soda/coffee/tea/water and they listen to the sounds of nothing much happening.

The key word is relax.  If I want to experience traffic, noise and crowds I'll take the family and do the 5PM bumper-to-bumper crawl on I-5. Then we'll go to Sea-Tac, find a boarding area and we'll eat our sandwiches.

Friday, April 5, 2013

I sent mine

April 4th is the stated deadline for submitting comments on the proposed Wellington Hills County Park (aka, SPORTS COMPLEX).

I reviewed SEPA sections on Geology and certain portions of the Traffic Study reports.

I followed the specified rules and submitted my comments.

Over the past few days I've also spent considerable time convincing distrustful / angry people to submit their comments.

They didn't want to send in their comments because the SEPA review comments are sent to the Snohomish County department/bureaucracy that designed and promoted the Sports Complex

Yeah, it does seem as if we’re feeding chickens while foxes are in the coop. 

We have no choice but to hope there's a "fail-safe" in place and the foxes follow both the spirit and intent of the rules.

Word is, we will either be getting a form letter saying 'thanks (but no thanks)' or we will be ignored (SOP) … our SEPA comments will filed away, probably in a dark room with a giant-economy sized shredder. 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Fire Department response, car fire, Wellington Hills Park

I want to share a portion of what I wrote in my response to the SEPA Checklist section, "Traffic Impact Analysis".

"Despite the proposed street improvements at the intersection of 240th Street SE and Route 9, the significant increase in traffic resulting from the proposed development of Wellington Hills Park will increase the risk of congestion, accidents and injuries, especially when the street is used or blocked by emergency responders for specific fire and rescue purposes.   

At no point in the Traffic Impact Analysis … is there a discussion of emergency vehicle response within the Park and its impact on 240th Street SE, which is expected to be the main entry/exit point to the proposed regional sports complex.

... I have enclosed a selection of six photographs that were taken of 240th Street SE following a car fire.  During the fire department’s response to the car fire, traffic on 240th Street SE was blocked in all directions.  If this type of emergency occurred during a sports event, what are the contingencies for supplemental rescue vehicles? What are the strategic exit plans for those already on-site should an evacuation be necessary?"

photos by Bill Stankus

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Fenced Out




A barrier, railing, or other upright structure that serves to enclose an area of ground, to mark a boundary, to prevent or control access or escape, typically of wood or wire.


Backstop, balustrade, bar, barricade, block, confine, encircle, guard, hedge, impound, net, paling, palisade, pen, pickets, posts, rail, railing, rampart, roadblock, separate, shield, stakes, stockade, stop, surround, wall

In other words, the fence blocks easy access to the park.  

Too bad the Wellington Hills fence can’t stop the County from their planned devastation of the park.

photo by Bill Stankus
February 2013

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

April 2, 2013. Someone said, "The County does whatever they want".

According to the "rules", April 4th is the deadline for returning public comments relating to the Wellington Hills County Park SEPA process (State Environmental Policy Act).

While concerned citizens are reading and writing about traffic, wetlands, noise, lights and other factors relative to Wellington Hills Park… the County is doing whatever it is the County wants to do.

photo by Bill Stankus
April 2, 2013