Sunday, April 13, 2008

If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way.

If the City of Lynnwood was asked to funnel millions of taxpayer dollars to a site located in Bothell, Mill Creek or unincorporated Snohomish County, would the City do it? The answer must be a resounding no. So why would the Edmonds School District unilaterally decide to uproot an established athletic complex and transplant it miles away, with the expectation that the City of Lynnwood would be interested in maintaining the site? Being located on the fringe of an area that might, one day be incorporated by the City of Lynnwood does nothing for the City’s taxpaying public. The site will draw far more people from Bothell and Mill Creek and become a resource for their community – but at no direct expense to them [aside from traffic impacts].

If the City and the District were neighbors and the District asked the City to go in on an expensive communal front yard, under what circumstances would the District be able to roll up that yard and move it to another neighborhood? Sure, the District might allow the City to come and sit on it once in a while, but why, after so much public money spent on the maintenance and improvement of the site would the City agree to let their investment go away? This seems like a serious misuse of tax money. The City of Lynnwood is being asked to invest in a communal resource that isn’t in the center of the community and therefore not a convenient resource for the majority of their taxpayers.

The City must have also developed a recreational plan around the Lynnwood Athletic Complex and likely made decisions about property acquisitions knowing they had access and on-going expenses there. How will the City backfill this tremendous void? How will the City accommodate all of the parking they need for their annual fireworks displays? How will the City recover from such a loss of recreational space to its community?

Federal funds were used to improve and enhance the Lynnwood Athletic Complex. These funds came from federal taxes and there is an obligation that such funds be used in a responsible manner. In order to even consider uprooting a federally-supported athletic complex, there must be a similar amount of comparable real estate taking its place. The new Lynnwood High School in Bothell, Mill Creek or unincorporated Snohomish County will hardly fit that bill. The Federal government identified the City of Lynnwood as being in need of infrastructural improvements and recreational opportunities. The District cannot, with a clear conscience, disregard that Federal mandate, roll up their carpet and drag it out of town. This would be no different than removing all of the furniture from Lynnwood City Hall and taking it to Mill Creek. The enhancement earmarked for one community cannot be easily transferred to another - and certainly not at the whim of an agency as small and as unsophisticated as a school district.

This would be the same agency that believes they have the right to sell public property - at any time - to support the pet projects of a flash-in-the-pan Superintendent. Public property must remain public property at all times. Just because one school administrator has a friend in need of property to develop doesn’t warrant the unloading of a public asset. Such an asset will only have to be restored at considerable expense when the children return. Without a doubt, the children will return. It would have been far better to allow another public agency to make use of the property in the interim.

Why is the Edmonds School District ground leasing the Edmonds Civic Playfields to the City of Edmonds for one dollar a year? Would it not have made more sense to sell the Civic Playfields to the City? Would it have made more sense to ground lease the Old Woodway Elementary site to the City of Edmonds for a period of ten years, while the City resolved their funding issues for an eventual purchase? During the ten year ground lease, the City could have demolished the building and improved the site. Of course, one would hope the property would lease for slightly more than a dollar a year.

It is deeply distressing to witness the thoughtless plundering that has gripped district administration. Their lack of wisdom is comparable to a crazy homeowner that removes his roof based upon a single day of sunshine. The District no longer does any real planning and missed their own boat, dock and lake regarding student enrollment forecasting. This same district now believes there will never be an increase in long-term student enrollment that might one day warrant a high school across from the Alderwood Mall AND on North Road.

The future taxpayers in our community will have Hell to pay. I just hope I won’t be around when the bill comes in.


Anonymous said...

The photo with this article is great! I never realized how large the playing fields are at Lynnwood High School. It would be a terrible loss to the community if they were destroyed and moved to an unincorporated area of Lynnwood.

Anonymous said...

I love the Blog. It just keeps getting better and better! Now librarians are mad and athletic families are mad too! said...

I suspect the City of Lynnwood prefers the sales tax revenue that would come from building out the space with more retail outlets.

This single process will forever define where the City's priorities are and how they view the quality of life for their citizens.

Anonymous said...

It wasn't too long ago that we were celebrating 60,000 hits on the blog. Now we are over 70K.

Anonymous said...

There is a clause that requires any occupant of district property to vacate with 90 days notice if the property is needed for educational purposes.

Phew, that disaster was averted.

Let Cypress build it and then we can open a high school disguised as a Home Depot.