Neighborhood Meeting on Sound Transit, Cross Kirkland Corridor, St Edward Seminary Building

Neighborhood Meeting on Sound Transit, Cross Kirkland Corridor, St Edward Seminary Building

About 50 people attended the June 15th Finn Hill neighborhood meeting at St. John Vianny church.  Several presenters fielded questions while sharing information on three controversial topics. Take some time learning about these issues and note any deadlines for public comment.  These three issues affect the quality of life on Finn Hill.

New fire station for Finn Hill: Kirkland’s Deputy City Manager Marilynne Beard provided an update on Kirkland’s progress in finding an appropriate site for a new fire station to serve the eastern side of Finn Hill. The city has a North Kirkland Fire Station web site with background information (but note that the City is now looking closely at the Rite-Aid parcel near 132nd and 100th and rather than the residential properties shown on the map that appears on the web page). Fire Chief Joe Sanford was also at the meeting fielding questions. In response to the fire service area for each fire station he said that fire stations are located with a focus on how many homes and buildings can be reached by firefighting apparatus in four minutes’ travel time: “We draw a circle around where you can go in four minutes.”

Rapid transit on the Cross Kirkland Corridor: Luke Lamon from Sound Transit presented a proposed regional transportation plan called ST3, which will be appear on the November ballot for funding. One of the local components of the proposal is a 2 mile light rail extension from Bellevue’s Wilburton Station to the South Kirkland park and ride, at the southern end of the Cross Kirkland Corridor (a $335 million project). The proposed ST3 package would also include funding for a study of rapid transit options through Kirkland, including possibilities for rapid transit along the Cross Kirkland Corridor. The Sound Transit board plans to vote on the final ballot proposal at a meeting on June 23 Learn more on the Sound Transit web page.

FHNA June meeting 2Jan Young and David Greschler, representatives of the Save Our Trail group, explained why that organization is opposed to rapid transit on the corridor. They presented their concerns that the Bellevue-Kirkland light rail extension is expensive and makes a rapid transit project on the corridor more likely in the future. They summarized transit alternatives the City and Sound Transit should consider. Want some background to this debate? You can start by checking out a recent KUOW story, browse the Cross Kirkland Corridor page on the City’s website, and look at the Save Our Trail site.  (There is a Save Our Trail meeting at 6m on June 20 at NYTEC, 416 Sixth St, adjacent to the corridor and across the road from Google)

Proposed hotel in St. Edward Park: We heard from Michael Hankinson, a Washington State Parks planner, about a proposal from Daniels Real Estate to restore the old seminary building in St. Edward State Park as a hotel. Mr. Hankinson explained that the seminary building is on the National Register of Historic Places and that Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission has voted to preserve the building. He said that Daniels has proposed to enter into a 62 year lease for 5 acres on which the seminary and adjacent buildings are located; it would pay for the lease by acquiring approximately 10 acres of woodlands along the northwestern corner of St. Edward Park and transferring it to the State. Daniels plans to transform the seminary into a hotel and conference center.

St Edward Seminary building

St Edward Seminary building

Mr. Hankinson also stated that the Washington State Commerce Department is preparing a report on the viability of restoring the seminary building for use by non-profit organizations. That report is scheduled for completion at the end of July. The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission plans to evaluate both the study and the Daniels plan at a meeting in September. At the same time, Daniels is submitting information about its proposal to the City of Kenmore – which has jurisdiction over zoning in the park – so that the city can make a SEPA (State Environmental Policy Act) determination. Mr. Hankinson suggested that comments should be sent to the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission and he noted that the public will also have an opportunity to comment on Kenmore’s proposed SEPA determination.

Susan Carlson, from Citizens for St. Edward Park, spoke on how the project might affect the recreational quality of the park itself. She asserted that the seminary building is not a significant benefit to park users, that restoration of the building as a hotel would lead to traffic and parking congestion, and that the hotel would detract from the park’s fundamental purpose as a site for passive recreation. She said that Citizens for St. Edward Park supports partial demolition of the seminary building, with preservation of the clock tower and meeting spaces. Curious to learn more? There’s a Seattle Times story, a KUOW report, information on the Daniel Real Estate site and the Washington State Park site, plus the views of Citizens for St Edward State Park and those favoring the Daniels proposal.

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