SeaTac residents are rallying against a proposal from the Port of Seattle to turn a popular neighborhood park into a parking lot for employees.
SEATAC, Wash. – Less than five miles north of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is North SeaTac Park. With its BMX track and deep trails, the park is a neighborhood favorite that draws visitors from all over South King County.
“I love the trees, I feel different when I walk under the trees. The roar of the planes disappears,” said Noemie Maxwell, who lives near the park and volunteers with the Forterra association.
It was Maxwell’s passion for the park that prompted her to start an online petition against a proposal from the Port of Seattle, which has approximately 44 acres of parkland, to turn 11 of those acres into employee parking lots. The proposal is part of the Port’s Sustainable Airport Master Plan (SAMP) to meet the needs of an additional 1 million people in the region by 2035.
“We are responding to a commercial demand,” said Fred Felleman, chair of the Seattle Port Commission. “We are the largest airport in a four state area.”
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While community leaders understand the need for growth, there is also a concern about the health of the community.
“Climate change is here. You remove the carbon sink and you increase the amount of carbon in the atmosphere, ”said Omaha Sternberg, co-chair of Burien People For Climate Change.
Felleman said it was a balance between running a growing airport that operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and the impact it has on airport communities. But Felleman hopes his actions as an environmental professional will bring some peace of mind.
“We created the South King County Fund with a $ 10 million fund specifically to look at the impacts in these communities,” said Felleman, who added that alternatives to reduce unique vehicle traffic in the area were included. also in the master plan.
But Maxwell calls for more creative parking solutions. His petition has garnered over 1,500 signatures from SeaTac City leaders and organizations like Burien People For Climate Change.
“If they need to build a lot, and they have to build it here, they have 40 acres directly north in this community that are already paved. They could build, not out,” said Maxwell.
SAMP extension plans have been in preparation since 2013 in the form of a framework. Reviews and public comment periods followed. But the proposal, which is one of 30 short-term expansion plans, is not moving forward yet.
“We have to go through an environmental review process to determine that whatever decision is made, it is carefully considered,” said Felleman, who also released a public response to the petition.
The proposal is currently undergoing an environmental review by the Port of Seattle and the Federal Aviation Administration. According to Felleman, this is a process that would be illegal to stop.
But there is also the possibility that the plan for a parking lot will never take shape, depending on the needs of the airport and the actual growth of the region.
Felleman said it was possible for the review to be completed as early as the summer or early fall. He said at that time, public comments and the petition would be taken into consideration to help determine the future of the park.
But Maxwell wants him completely off the table.
“I hope the elected officials all talk to each other and come up with a great plan to save our forest.”