Saturday, July 14, 2007

Take Site 6, please.

Every City needs lots of parks. Parks are where people go to play and frolic in the sunshine – when the sun actually shines around here. Parks are a mechanism whereby cities can demonstrate that they actually care about the people that live there. Parks are those warm, friendly green squares on zoning maps that help mayors and city councilors get re-elected. Who doesn’t like parks? The City wants parks and doesn’t want to spend lots of money getting them.

The Edmonds School District likes parks, but it isn’t mission critical to construct parks for neighborhoods – though playgrounds perform a similar role and offer physical education opportunities for schoolchildren. The District likes schools and schools have playgrounds but they have no business constructing parks.

The District had a piece of swampy land they called Site 6. It was a rather large piece of land but had no real use or value in the school construction business. It just didn’t have enough firm soil to build anything society would call a school. It did have a value, but it was limited to the three or four houses that could be built there – of course, they would be houses with a considerable moat.

Along came a land conservancy on a mission from Snohomish County; to identify and acquire open spaces for the benefit of residents living nearby. The County had a sizable sum of money to spend and agreed to buy Site 6, if the appraised value did not surpass what was in their wallet. Anything above the amount in their wallet would have to be covered by the City of Lynnwood – the eventual owner and caretaker of Site 6, the park.

An appraisal was commissioned and the result came back nearly $40,000 greater than the County’s $600,000 allowance for the purchase. The site was large and one would naturally conclude that the City would happily part with $40,000 or so to acquire a site valued at more than $600,000. But this is Lynnwood. The City then asked the District to adjust the manner in which they had their appraiser define a wetland buffer and presto, change-o the appraisal came back just under $600,000. The City of Lynnwood had to pay nothing for their park, the County spent all of their allowance and the District handed over more than $50,000 for the pleasure of doing business with the City.

Isn’t it great when public agencies work together? But why does the District always look like the mentally-challenged sibling buying a shiny nickel for a dollar?

Mark Zandberg, Moderator
Former Planning and Property Management Specialist
March 2001 - June 2007


Anonymous said...

I recall reading something in the newspaper about this several years ago, with Marla Miller quoting laws and administrative codes restricting the process for property sales, that is, no "gift of public funds". Was that somehow bypassed in this process? Is this the same set of administrative codes that should have been followed in the Woodway elementary and new ESC site? Why are so many property deals shady and secretive? Why is it that the same name comes up when questionable negotiations, poor treatment of employees, lack of accountability, and favoritism are discussed?

Will somebody (that isn't an employee) please go to the school board meetings and ask the hard questions?

Anonymous said...

IF YOU SPEAK OUT OR ASK QUESTIONS you GET NAILED TO THE CROSS & thats not a joke. So PLEASE! someone stand up & be nailed like we all have.
EMPLOYEE that cares for the kids.

Anonymous said...

I am reading your blog for the first time. It was mentioned during our bible study as a good example of good versus evil. There was a rousing debate about public agencies becoming evil and how they defeat the spirit of their existence when no one is watching or no one seems to care. We read your articles and discussed your voice in the wilderness.

Thank you for your crusade. I hope people are reading and taking action. We plan to look more closely when the district asks for more money.

Anonymous said...

Good will prevail. Evil should have to reside at her prior school district.