North SeaTac Park and Dozens of Acres of Tree-Covered Land in SeaTac are at risk from Airport Expansion

Reprint of 8/16/22 Letter to the Editor

Published in South King Media blogs: B-Town Blog, Normandy Park Blog, SeaTac Blog, and Waterland Blog

Dear Editor,

An August 9 Letter to the Editor, “Port of Seattle responds – ‘Airport programs create habitat, strengthen native species,’” outlined ways in which the Port protects natural habitat and green spaces. The author also stated that the Port is not considering development within North SeaTac Park.

The Port has invested significantly in environmental restoration. This investment provides some balance for historical and forthcoming airport expansion impacting our community.

But North SeaTac Park is not safe from Port development.

There is ample documentation of longstanding Port plans to develop a 55-acre parcel inside the park, south of S. 136th Street. This parcel is now covered with old forest and bicycle trails, interwoven with wetlands and at least one tributary of Miller Creek, and immediately adjacent to Tub Lake Bog, one of the few remaining bogs in western Washington:

  • In 2002, the Port forged an agreement with the City of SeaTac to “define guidelines for the future redevelopment” of this parcel and listed the types of structures that could be built there, including roads, warehouses, flight kitchens, maintenance facilities, and parking lots. (1)

  • In a 2016 presentation, the Port presented maps and a description of commercial development ideas for this parcel. (2)

  • In 2020, the Port reported on 340,000 square feet of “aviation supportive uses” and a “food innovation center,” to be sited on this parcel. It noted that this was one of several sites for which planning was “underway” and that it had been moved “under the purview of the Sustainable Airport Master Plan (SAMP).” (3)

  • This June, the Port acknowledged, in a published inventory of the 55-acre parcel, the “conceptual site considerations” that it has long had within this area of the park. (4)

The Port’s “site considerations” for our park may not, as Mr. Kaplan writes, be active plans now, but they can become so at any time. Here’s why:

  • All 55 acres of the parcel in question, along with the entirety of North SeaTac Park, are owned by the Port and zoned “Aviation Commercial.” (5)

  • By agreement with the City of SeaTac, (added clarification: the entire park can be eventually removed from park use and) 55 acres can be taken out of park use “at any time.” (6)

We offer these facts to support recent public calls for the Port to work with the City of SeaTac to protect this park and other forested land in SeaTac. The Port should support rezoning of North SeaTac Park from “Aviation Commercial” to “Park” and commit in a legally binding manner to permanent withdrawal of all “site considerations” that would expand airport operations within the park and on additional forested land in SeaTac.

For we are at a time of promise for the park and the city’s trees. The City of SeaTac has taken positive action, passing a resolution (8) to explore acquiring the park from the Port in order to protect it. Burien’s City Council recently voted to draft a resolution to support the City of SeaTac (9) in negotiating with the Port. Nearly 2,000 community members have signed the Community Forest Consensus at https://KCTreeEquity.org, calling for protection of the park and dozens of acres of tree-covered land in SeaTac now targeted for development under the Sustainable Airport Master Plan. (10)

Readers are encouraged to consider signing the Consensus at https://KCTreeEquity.org. Strong public support for this park and our community’s trees can save them.

Sincerely,
Defenders of North SeaTac Park; Quiet Skies Puget Sound; South Seattle Climate Action Network; Phoebe Barnard, Ph.D., Stable Planet Alliance; Meagan Lass; Allison Ostrer, Certified Public Interpreter; Noemie Maxwell Vassilakis

NOTES

  1. Agreement 02-A19, An Agreement with the Port of Seattle for Certain Port-Owned Properties Adjacent to North SeaTac Park, April 23, 2002, obtained through Public Records Request to the City of SeaTac. https://drive.google.com/file/d/14eeTQJ8kSUuE3bh4ENvMVSU_A178dYhT/view?usp=sharing

  2. Real Estate Commission Strategic Plan, Port Commission Study Session, 2016, pp. 18-20 https://meetings.portseattle.org/portmeetings/attachments/2016/2016_07_26_SS_5_supp.pdf

  3. Port of Seattle Real Estate Strategic Plan, 2020, https://www.portseattle.org/sites/default/files/2021-10/2020_Real_Estate_Strategic_Plan.pdf

  4. North SeaTac Park 55-acre Parcel Inventory, Prepared for Port of Seattle by Anchor QEA, LLC, June, 2022, p. vi https://www.portseattle.org/sites/default/files/2022-06/North_SeaTac_Park_55AcreParcel_InvMemo_Final_06062022.pdf

  5. City of SeaTac Zoning Map, https://drive.google.com/file/d/1dutjl7jpwZujdRQ9E5q-3a-mZ8Z0ZirD/view

  6. North SeaTac Agreements – Draft, City of SeaTac, https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Q1FjloqC_NKQJ6ZF0pbJL4pYB4qbNhmM/view

  7. SeaTac City Council approves resolution to explore acquiring North SeaTac Park, SeaTac Blog, May 12, 2022 https://seatacblog.com/2022/05/12/seatac-city-council-approves-resolution-to-explore-acquiring-north-seatac-park/

  8. Burien Council reviews new ‘Shop Local’ website… and more, B-Town Blog, South King Media, 8/2/22 https://b-townblog.com/2022/08/02/burien-council-presented-with-new-shop-local-website-approves-letter-to-faa-more-at-monday-meeting/

  9. Seattle Tacoma International Airport Sustainable Airport Master Plan Near Term Projects Environmental Review Process Scoping Information, July 2018 (p. 11) https://tinyurl.com/yutrw2n7 and Port of Seattle Strategic Plan, 2020, sited in #4, above

info@KCTreeEquity.org

© 2022

Facebook icon
Instagram icon
Created with
Mailchimp Freddie Badge