Monday, August 25, 2014

Planning Commission to Consider 2015 Parks Plan at 8/26/14 Meeting 5:30 pm - 9 pm

During a Planning Commission Study Session on July 22, 2014, the Commissioners reviewed the new Parks portion of the 2015 Update. Tomorrow night, 8/26, the Planning Commission will discuss the Parks and Rec portion of the 2015 Update again.

This Planning Commission Meeting will be held on August 26th, 5:30 pm - 9:00 pm, Snohomish County Offices, 1st Floor Public Meeting Room 1, Administration Building-East 3000 Rockefeller Avenue Everett, WA 98201. Note: if the doors to the offices are locked, please call Security on the phone near the parking garage elevators.

This is a link to download the agenda for the meeting; the Parks and Rec portion is item #3.

The Planning Commission will be discussing several documents that could affect how the County creates, maintains and measures usage of parks in the future. There are three documents you should look at: Finally, there is a summary of the new GPP Parks Chapter and the old version. The comparison is an easy way to see the subtle shift in Parks policy language and the heavy reliance to be placed on the new proposed park classifications and level of service methodology. According to the summary, the proposed new chapter seems to include more about the Parks Department maintaining and developing facilities based on priorities established and input gathered from the public and other interested parties. There is no emphasis on continuing to gather and consider public input. This contrasts with the old version which specifies Parks will "continue to regularly identify and prioritize community and regional recreational needs..." In the case of the plans for Wellington Park, "public input" was gathered selectively, late in the process, and not incorporated in any significant way into plan revisions.

Why should you drive to Everett? The Planning Commission is making a big effort to take public input into consideration on these issues. The public needs to be heard and the 2015 Update should reflect public interests as the County plans for the next 10 years. Please come and explain what's important to you, and what you think the County should prioritize in its plan for the next 10 years!

You have the right to make a public comment at the beginning of the meeting, for up to 3 minutes. You can address the Planning Commission directly and explain your concerns about park planning and Wellington Park, particularly relating to community involvement in the design of the Park.

The proposed policies, definitions, and goals in the Parks GPP section and the Parks Element for the 2015 Update will be discussed and possibly amended. Once finalized later this year, they will be the policy and the plan for how the County handles parks over the next 10 years. There are some important concepts in both documents that could have an impact on the fight to save our Community Park:
  • How do we define active recreation? The proposed PRE specifically defines trail use as "passive" even though most hikers would disagree (pg 14).
  • How do we differentiate between neighborhood, community, regional and special use parks?
  • How many of each do we need in particular areas?

If you can make it to the meeting, please come. If you can't make it to the meeting, you can become a Party of Record by submitting a written request or testimony to Sally Evans, Planning Commission Clerk, PDS, M/S 604, 3000 Rockefeller Avenue, Everett, WA 98201 or via email at Sally.Evans@snoco.org.

If you need a map or parking information for the meeting, try this link to the SnoCo site.

Proposed Changes to Protection of Mature Trees in Snohomish County


On August 19th, the County Planning and Development Committee heard a motion on proposed "Tree Canopy Legislation", to consider the proposed changes in a General Legislative Session, and hold a public hearing. You can read the motion ("ECAF") and the proposed new ordinance on the County's website.

The proposed ordinance would replace current restrictions on removal of "significant trees" (defined by the County as 10" or more in diameter), eliminating requirements to replace trees cut with additional trees of a minimum size. Instead, developers could remove any tree outside critical areas and required buffer areas, and replace them with trees that are a minimum of 6' in height, and 1.5" in diameter. The proposed canopy requirements focus on estimated canopy size in 20 years, but don't address the community's loss of large existing trees in the meantime.

The text of the staff report describes why we should protect trees and how beneficial they are, while allowing complicated calculations to lower the developer requirements to maintain a tree canopy. Within the Urban Growth Areas ("UGAs"), the highest requirement is 30% tree canopy. More central areas would only require a 15% tree canopy. Of that, the highest required ratio of evergreen trees to deciduous trees is about 37%. The evergreen percentage will have a big bearing on how these areas look once all the deciduous trees have dropped their leaves. According to the staff analyst, the proposed ordinance "allows for credits, bonuses, director’s discretion, and overlap that could result in significantly lower canopy requirements (below 10%)."

The proposed ordinance would affect cities and unincorporated areas inside the urban growth boundary, but would set a very bad precedent for the entire county. It does not appear to provide for oversight by a separate, responsible group independent of special interests and developer pressure. Instead, this proposed approach to handling developer concerns could leave the future look and feel of our urban and suburban areas to the developers.

The staff report calls this approach "novel." It deserves a full public hearing and a vigorous discussion of the issues and alternative ways to solve developer issues without giving these for-profit companies so much control over our County. Why not address this issue within the overall 2015 update process, where it is more likely to receive a more thorough review and could benefit from coordination with adjacent city and county regulations?

Trees absorb carbon dioxide, absorb odors and pollutant gases, improve water quality, provide shade and save energy by shielding buildings from the harsh sun. They increase property values, soften an urban landscape, create a more inviting residential or business area, and offer a sense of place and identity to an otherwise unremarkable urban area. Let's work with our County officials and recognize the importance of maintaining our mature trees while working with developers to avoid regulations that don't work.

Stay tuned for more information about discussion of this issue in a General Legislative Session and public hearing dates!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Planning Meeting 7/22 -- the Future of Parks in Snohomish Cty

This Planning Commission Meeting will be held on July 22nd, 5:30pm - 9:00pm, Snohomish County Offices, 1st Floor Public Meeting Room 2, Administration Building-East 3000 Rockefeller Avenue Everett, WA 98201

The meeting will address a couple of other agenda items, and then adjourn to allow a "study session."

This study session will describe a new Parks and Recreation Chapter of the General Policy Plan (GPP) and a new Parks and Recreation Element (PRE) that is being considered as part of the county’s 2015 Plan Update. The new Parks and Recreation Chapter includes goals, policies and objectives that were previously located in the Capital Facilities Chapter and Parks and Recreation Plan. The PRE includes information previously found in the Parks and Recreation Plan.

This is a link to download the agenda for the meeting.

The Planning Commission will be discussing several documents that could affect how the County creates, maintains and measures usage of parks in the future. There are three documents you should look at: the memorandum about the Planning Meeting , the proposed Parks and Rec section of the General Policy Plan, and the draft Parks and Rec Element being considered for inclusion in the 2015 Update.

Why does any of this matter enough to drive to Everett?

You have the right to make a public comment at the beginning of the study session, for up to 3 minutes. You can address the Planning Commission directly and explain your concerns about Wellington Park, particularly relating to community involvement in the design of the Park.

The proposed policies, definitions, and goals in the Parks GPP section and the Parks Element for the 2015 Update will be discussed and possibly amended. Once finalized later this year, they will be the policy and the plan for how the County handles parks over the next 10 years. There are some important concepts in both documents that could have an impact on the fight to save our community Park:
  • How do we define active recreation?
  • How do we differentiate between neighborhood, community, regional and special use parks?
  • How many of each do we need in particular areas?

If you can make it to the meeting, please come. If you can't make it to the meeting, you can become a Party of Record by submitting a written request or testimony to Sally Evans, Planning Commission Clerk, PDS, M/S 604, 3000 Rockefeller Avenue, Everett, WA 98201 or via email at Sally.Evans@snoco.org.

If you need a map or parking information for the meeting, try this link to the SnoCo site.

What's up with Wellington Park?

It's been hard to navigate the new SnoCo site, and many of the links from the old site no longer exist. But there's a new area with information about Wellington Hills, so take a look.

This is the Park as mentioned in the Parks and Rec "Planning" section The introduction is different, and mentions that a "public process to determine site design has been initiated.." Clearly, they're not referring to any efforts they have made to date to determine what the community wants.

If you click on the "Report List" on that page, you can get to a list of documents related to the Park. It includes many of the documents submitted for the Land Disturbing Activity ("LDA") permit application(resubmitted January 15, 2014) with an updated environmental State Environmental Policy Act("SEPA") checklist. If you'd like a quick description of what's in each document, check out our new page .

In general, the Parks Department and the County Council have been quiet about plans for our Park. They've had a few discussion items on the County Council agenda, including a request for additional funding for Bruce Dees (the architect designing the sports complex). The Park and its status have been mentioned in Tom Teigen's reports during Operations Committee meetings; his discussions repeat the misinformation about consultations with the community, and try to put a positive spin on the sports complex design.

The last Operations Committee meeting was on June 24th; the next meeting has been cancelled so the Operations Committee may not meet until mid August. If you're interested in listening to any of the Operations Committee meetings, you can find the agendas, minutes and videos here.

Despite the relative silence in public, we believe the Parks Department is continuing to work on the sports complex plan and will present that plan soon. We need to be prepared to discuss and refute information compiled to support their planned tournament facility.

Join us and fight for our community Park! Help fund the legal effort to save our Park! Come visit and enjoy the open spaces!

Neighbors to Save Wellington Park

“Dedicated to creating a park that is consistent with our rural community”

SaveWellingtonPark.com
Neighbors to Save Wellington Park is a Washington State Non-Profit Corporation

Please donate by check payable to “NSWP” and mail to:

NSWP
PO Box 1805
Woodinvile, WA 98072

Or use your PayPal account or major credit card by clicking the “Donate” button.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Which Park Do YOU Want?

The difference between Tambark Creek Park and Wellington Park is striking. Tambark Creek Park is in Bothell, opened in June 2013 with a large artificial turf sports field, off lease dog area, childrens play area, 2 picnic shelters and nature trails. Park facilities were built with mitigation funding from the Brightwater Sewage Plant agreement - the same deal funding the purchase and completion of Wellington Park.

Tambark Creek Park is on flat land, and the Parks Department built one artificial turf field. The Wellington Hills site is on top of a hill, with numerous critical wetland areas, challenging geology and streams that feed into Little Bear Creek. Tambark Creek Park is in the middle of a suburban development; Wellington Hills is on the rural side of the Urban Growth Boundary, accessed by winding, 2 lane country roads.

The tidy facilities at Tambark Creek Park were not acheived without sacrifice:


They have fences around the play area,

Lots of parking for players, friends and coaches -- this lot has 75 spaces



And a nice clean play area overlooking the field with its lights.

Looking at the open areas, you have to wonder what else is coming.



Of course, there seems to be some confusion about where to water, to maintain the new trees and plantings...


We want a Park at Wellington Hills, but it doesn't need to have artificial turf. We can work with the rolling hills and giant trees to develop a Park appropriate for THIS site, instead of just copying other facilities built on flat land. We need to have a say in designing the Park for this community.

The Parks Department Master Plan includes approximately 25 acres of impervious surfaces -- 4 artificial turf fields, parking for 700+ cars, expanded roads inside the sports complex and buildings that have no funding. We want a Park that complements this site, celebrates the hills, giant trees and hilltop perch, and provides recreation for all ages -- not built primarily to host sports teams that pay to use the fields.

Join us and fight for our community Park! Help fund the legal effort to save our Park! Come visit and enjoy the open spaces!

Neighbors to Save Wellington Park

“Dedicated to creating a park that is consistent with our rural community”

SaveWellingtonPark.com
Neighbors to Save Wellington Park is a Washington State Non-Profit Corporation

Please donate by check payable to “NSWP” and mail to:

NSWP
PO Box 1805
Woodinvile, WA 98072

Or use your PayPal account or major credit card by clicking the “Donate” button.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

More on SnoPUD's Plans for Wellington Hills

Today Jim Whitehead provided a copy of the notice sent to residents along Bostian Rd, about planned electrical work.

This is a copy of the notice and map of the planned work:





Phase 1 work is the upgrade along Bostian Road between 227th and 240th Streets; Phase 2 work is along 240th. Due to uncertainty about overall plans at Wellington Park, SnoPUD has scheduled work along 240th for roughly next spring. If you're having trouble reading the fine print on the notice, try this link to google drive

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

SnoPUD's Plans for Wellington Hills

Yesterday, Snohomish County PUD had workers walking along Bostian Rd, preparing for the new construction this fall. Jim Whitehead, a surveyor for Snohomish County PUD, explained that SnoPUD plans to upgrade the power supply in this area to reduce the threat of power outages and provide more power to residents.

SnoPUD workers have been out before, and each time they have stated that the improved power supply is to benefit neighborhood residents, not prepare for the tournament level athletic facility that the Parks Department wants.

Here's the information we have now:

  • Power lines will be upgraded to handle more power, for the area served by the Turners Corner substation.
  • Some new poles will be installed, some poles will be reused.
  • Some poles will get new transformers
  • This area, from roughly Wellington Hills Park to the end of Bostian, will go from being completely dependent on the Turners Corner substation, to having access to both the Turners Corner substation and a substation at Brightwater sewage plant. If power goes out to Turners Corner, residents in this area can receive power from the other substation. Restoring from a large power outage will be easier, because sections can be put back online more gradually.
  • SnoPUD is in the process of securing easements and tree trimming permits right now. Construction permits have not yet been submitted.
  • Work is expected to begin in October or November 2014.

A better, more reliable power supply is great for residents of Wellington Hills. It's also very convenient for anyone dreaming of a sports complex... After discussing the project with Mr. Whitehead yesterday, I searched the SnoPUD site for details, but found nothing. When asked about the lack of information and transparency on the SnoPUD site, he explained that putting information out on the website is a totally different process.

Let's hope that SnoPUD is more forthcoming with information about this project soon - otherwise, this sounds very much like the early days of planning for a sports complex at Wellington Park.