Open Space Seattle:2100

Monday, August 14, 2006

Parks Agrees to SEPA Review

<>We just received this from the Friends of Gas Works Park. They're pretty happy.

FRIENDS OF GAS WORKS PARK NEWS RELEASE

August 14, 2006

Parks Department agrees to comply with State Law

Friends of Gas Works Park announces that the City has agreed to comply with the State Environmental Act (SEPA) before One Reel Productions can hold concerts at Gas Works Park. Friends filed a community-funded lawsuit against the City and One Reel Productions in February. Concerns were that these concerts would damage the soil remediation process, cause noise and traffic impacts to the adjacent communities and commercialize, restrict and preempt free use of the park.

On June 27, 2006 King County Superior Court Judge Dean Lum denied the city’s Summary Judgment motion that sought to dismiss the Friends of Gas Works Park’s lawsuit. Judge Lum ruled that Friends has standing to pursue its lawsuit and that the City’s activities are not categorically exempt under SEPA pursuant to any of the exemptions claimed by the City.

Though Judge Lum’s ruling stopped short of ordering the City to comply with SEPA the City has now conceded that it must comply. That concession spares Friends from returning to court to seek an order to that effect from Judge Lum. Friends expects that the City will prepare an EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) to fulfill its obligations under SEPA.

Though Friends was the plaintiff, citizens throughout Seattle contributed to the legal fund. Friends of Gas Works Park, a nonprofit 501 3(c) organization, received the Cultural Landscape Foundation National Stewardship Excellence Award for 2004. Attorney for Friends of Gas Works Park is David Bricklin of the law firm, Bricklin Newman Dold.

The Parks Department failed to engage in any public process before announcing that One Reel would hold the summer concerts at Gas Works Park in 2006. Mitigation and negotiations between community representatives, Parks Department and One Reel were unproductive and Parks ended the process when One Reel postponed the move to 2007.

Friends of Gas Works Park is one of several citizen groups working to change the way the Parks Department implements projects affecting neighborhoods. Since Friends filed its petition in February, Council Member David Della has asked the Office of City Auditor to review and evaluate the Seattle Parks and Recreation community involvement processes.

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