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Discovery Park gate: Magnolia attorney threatens federal lawsuit

December 9th, 2013 · 40 Comments

By reporter Steven Smalley

 

Photo by Steven Smalley

 

A plan by the city to place a roadblock across the steep drive leading to the the lighthouse in Discovery Park proceeds with a new chapter Wednesday night when King County’s Wastewater Treatment Division and Seattle Parks and Recreation hold a public meeting to review their proposal and respond to feedback from the public.

One critic of the project, Magnolia resident and attorney Mary Steele-Klein, is speaking out against the proposal. Magnolia Voice had a conversation with her about this plan to build a gate across Discovery Park Blvd. and her opposition to it. The following are some questions and her edited comments:
Magnolia Voice:  In your opinion, why does the city want to put a gate across the road leading to the beach?
Steele-Klein: I think it’s clear the wastewater treatment plant people are the impetus here. They’re the moving force that want to put up the gate to protect their plant. But actually, I see it as an effort to impinge on the city’s public park property. I think it’s an effort by the wastewater people to take over property rights far from where their plant is located, and limit public access to some of the most beautiful beaches in the entire city. It’s the crown jewel in Discovery Park.
MV: What’s the reality of placing a gate across the road a mile-and-a-half from the beach? What will result?
SK: The permitting process (to acquire a parking pass) in place right now is confusing and hopelessly inadequate. (The gate proposal) will close the road at 5 o’clock, so the most beautiful sunsets cannot be enjoyed by working people or families. All but the fittest people – the R.E.I. rock climber-types – will be able to get to the lighthouse. There are some formidable hills which would prevent the average person from ever getting to the beach on foot.
MV: Isn’t there already a gate at the wastewater treatment plant?
SK: The gate at the plant itself is totally unmanned. The gate is open. There is no need for an additional gate more than a mile away to stem the flow of traffic. It isn’t even manning its own gate or preserving its own security. Why should the public be forced to bear this burden of another gate a mile and a half away which virtually blocks all public access?
MV: Parks people refer to the Master Plan and how so many cars are not permitted. It’s seen as a pedestrian-access park. How does the Master Plan come into play?
SK: I’ve read the Master Plan. Originally put together in 1974, with revisions in 1986, it anticipated an increase in the need for parking from the current 400 to 1,200 spaces. There was clearly an intent for the public to share more of this beautiful scenery. Other references to the Master Plan have included as objectives, getting rid of the wastewater treatment plant. Relocating it to Sodo would be a more suitable place. It’s a more direct access for waste-carrying trucks to go up those big highway ramps – I-5 and I-90. These heavy trucks are a danger here in Magnolia. They’re ruining our spindly little bridges. There doesn’t seem to be a real effort to find an alternative. There should be a new road put into the north parking lot if they’re going to stay – a level, straight road, perhaps dedicated to trucks. There hasn’t been any realistic effort to move them out of the area.
Ultimately the wastewater treatment ruins this beautiful environmental area. The smell is terrible. It’s dumping all kinds of sewage into the water. It’s polluted all of the clams, and shellfish, and everything else.
MV: This is a beautiful part of the park, and the Parks Department wants to keep it that way. But let’s face it, it’s located right next to a sewage treatment plant. Is this situation an environmental contradiction?
SK: This is an urban park. It’s distinct from, let’s say, a national park like the Grand Canyon. This is a park to be enjoyed by the people of this community and the city of Seattle. They have taken this absurd position that people shouldn’t use the park at all. It must be accessible from a public point of view. If it can’t be visited, what point is there?
MV: Would you make another Master Plan?
SK: There have been changes, and there is nothing immutable about it. The fact that the city was given rights by the federal government to take over this park a year or so ago is a sign that maybe it is time to rethink the uses intended for this park and the way it provides for those uses. If the public is going to use this park, the public has to be given parking. We are not all R.E.I. fit alpinists. I’ve had to stop and pick up young people who could not climb these hills. The Hills are killer hills. For the average person to enjoy the beauty of this incredible place, it has to be done in a vehicle.
MV: Do you think the minds of local administrators are already made up?
SK: It’s a totally ineffective plan. If the city does not want to stop the progress on this thing, then I will personally go to Federal Court and…file suit – because they are violating the most fundamental public rights.
The planning and review meeting to install a gate across the road leading to the lighthouse in Discovery Park will be held this Wednesday, December 11, 6 p.m., at Discovery Park Visitor’s Center, 3801 Discovery Park Blvd.
The organizers request an RSVP here if you plan to attend.

Tags: Uncategorized

  • Doesn’t own hiking boots

    If the ” average person” can’t make the hike to the lighthouse, then the average person probably needs to spend a bit more time walking in nature, and a little less driving through it. The trails are not even remotely difficult to hike.

    • Heywood

      One needn’t own a pair of hiking boots to be fearful of trudging through Discovery Park at dusk. It’s a long trek in a dimly lighted, wooded expanse on the way to the lighthouse to observe the sunset. While the Parks Department spends time and lots of money to keep working people off the beach, there is no “political will” whatsoever to clean out the nests of vagrants holed up in the woods on the way to West Point. Bureaucrats who act to keep you from the lighthouse, and subsequently the sewage treatment plant, remain silent when it comes to the extensive ecological damage done to the forest in the way of cutting down trees for firewood and defecating in the brush to answer the call of nature. Moreover, not one female among the desk-sitters downtown would feel safe strolling past and then walking home again near that encampment at night. Automobiles equal safety.

      • Sgt Bilko

        Why does everyone think they are ENTITLED to drive Discovery Park Blvd and park at the beach? The parking down there is for vehicles with permits – period. There is also no parking anywhere down that road, but people keep parking all over the historical district because they DO NOT WANT to walk from any of the 3 available parking lots. All I hear is people crying for their rights to enjoy the park on their own terms. Rules are in place to keep it nice for EVERYONE.

        The proposed gate will help SAVE enough parking spaces for the elderly, handicapped and obese/unfit with proper permits. If anything you should be FOR the gate, as it would help to secure your park “privileges”.

        • Heywood

          There are no permits available after 5 p.m. In the summer, the best views of sunsets happen hours later. Search Steele-Klein and find she is over 70-years-of-age.

          • Don’t own hiking boots either

            I’m 62, but I’ve met a lot of 70-year-olds who were in better shape than I am.

          • Brooknook

            Mary Steele-Klein needs to do her homework before she spouts off. She has mis-quoted the Master Plan big time. She is NOT “entitled” to drive to the beach in her car any time she wants!!!

        • Sgt. Shriver

          So what makes you think you are “entitled’ to tell every one else how to live – particularly when it requires everyone else to conform to your lifestyle?

    • AccessForAll

      Not everyone is healthy enough to do that, and the visitor center is not open in the evenings, or even every day, in order to get permits. But sure, let’s keep the beach from young kids, the elderly, and the disabled. That’s probably what God intended when he put it there.

  • Don’t own hiking boots either

    R.E.I. rock climber-alpinist-type? Really? I actually happen to be a member of REI, but I hardly fit that description – it’s laughable. Nevertheless, I have walked from the SOUTH parking lot to the beach and back. Steel-Klein must be seriously out of shape to equate anyone fitter than her with “rock climbers”. Maybe she should ask her doctor what he/she thinks of her need for parking any- and everywhere she wants to go.

    • Get real

      So “seriously out of shape” people shouldn’t have beach access either?

    • eric smith

      Agreed, South Parking lot to the beach, along the beach, up the stairs, do the loop and home…an easy 6.75 miles when I used a pedometer the other day. Even for people who cannot walk at all, parking in the South Parking lot gives them a breathtaking view that is completely level walking from the lot. We REI types are in the minority, but any doctor will tell you that the majority of AMericn people are out of shape, too overweight, incapable of doing the slightest exercise. The road down to the beach is no alpine anything.

  • Ft. Lawton Resident

    I am so fired up about this… I’ll see you all tomorrow night. I’m gonna WALK to the meeting.

  • Discovery Lover

    Whoa. Walking 2 miles is now considered a major hardship and only the purview of REI-type people. Wow, original and idiotic at the same time. Since when did walking up and down a hill suddenly become a major burden for those of us without disabilities? I have proposed and propose again a gate mechanism for which there can be a daily punch code given to those with genuine disabilities during business hours so they can drive down. The public has ample access to this park, and the current abuses by the public have show the current system is totally flawed. There’s a reason why this country is the most obese on earth–and absurdist actiosn by attorneys who want to ensure we can drive our cars everywhere without a little beneficial exercise are not helping us.

  • Benjamin Lukoff

    I wonder how Steele-Klein feels about the Magnolia street ends. Was she in favor of or against improvements to W. McGraw at Perkins Lane? Would she care to donate her services to the efforts to open the rest of them up? They’re public, too.

    • Heywood

      Don’t tease us, Ben. Tell us more. What’s going on?

      • Benjamin Lukoff

        I don’t believe it was covered here much, if at all. Here is my Storify of the meeting held in August: http://storify.com/lukobe/w-mcgraw-street-end-meeting; information on the program: http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/stuse_stends.htm; and information on the particular street end: http://www.seattle.gov/parks/levy/environment.htm

        I haven’t been down in a few months, but last I saw the improvements were going ahead as planned. There was quite a bit of opposition from Perkins Lane residents, of course.

        Essentially, a lot of Seattle’s shoreline is privately owned, or publicly owned but inaccessible from land. However, there are over 100 cases in which, when streets were platted, they were platted right into the water. Often this was in anticipation of filling in the tideflats, as they did in the Industrial District. (Part of the Bogue Plan of 100 years ago was to fill in all of Magnolia’s tide flats, which is why if you look at the county property maps you’ll see streets like Puget and Logan Avenues running offshore).

        In Magnolia’s case, there are shoreline street ends — public rights-of-way — at the following locations (counter-clockwise from the south boundary of Discovery Park): 48th, Bertona, Dravus, Barrett, Bertona, Armour, Raye, McGraw, 32nd, 30th, Gilman, Cramer, Sheridan, and 47th.

        32nd is easily accessible… you can drive right down to it. 30th is accessible from the marina parking lot. Gilman is essentially part of Commodore Park. The others are either very hard to access or are encroached upon by the neighbors. Now, however, McGraw should be fully accessible… again, I haven’t been down in a while.

        Anyway, I wonder what her feelings are about this program. We’d love to have her help, if she’s for it! Unfortunately, from the meeting, it seems the closer you live to the shoreline the more likely you are to oppose the program, and I don’t know what part of Magnolia she lives in.

      • Benjamin Lukoff

        Hmm. I posted a reply, wanted to edit it because of some broken links, and now it’s not showing up. Re-posting, though I bet what will end up happening is you’ll see two copies…

        I don’t believe it was covered here much, if at all. Here is my Storify of the meeting held in August: http://storify.com/lukobe/w-mcgraw-street-end-meeting

        Information on the program: http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/stuse_stends.htm

        Information on the particular street end: http://www.seattle.gov/parks/levy/environment.htm (scroll down)

        I haven’t been down in a few months, but last I saw the improvements were going ahead as planned. There was quite a bit of opposition from Perkins Lane residents, of course.

        Essentially, a lot of Seattle’s shoreline is privately owned, or publicly owned but inaccessible from land. However, there are over 100 cases in which, when streets were platted, they were platted right into the water. Often this was in anticipation of filling in the tideflats, as they did in the Industrial District. (Part of the Bogue Plan of 100 years ago was to fill in all of Magnolia’s tide flats, which is why if you look at the county property maps you’ll see streets like Puget and Logan Avenues running offshore).

        In Magnolia’s case, there are shoreline street ends — public rights-of-way — at the following locations (counter-clockwise from the south boundary of Discovery Park): 48th, Bertona, Dravus, Barrett, Bertona, Armour, Raye, McGraw, 32nd, 30th, Gilman, Cramer, Sheridan, and 47th.

        32nd is easily accessible… you can drive right down to it. 30th is accessible from the marina parking lot. Gilman is essentially part of Commodore Park. The others are either very hard to access or are encroached upon by the neighbors. Now, however, McGraw should be fully accessible… again, I haven’t been down in a while.

        Anyway, I wonder what her feelings are about this program. We’d love to have her help, if she’s for it! Unfortunately, from the meeting, it seems the closer you live to the shoreline the more likely you are to oppose the program, and I don’t know what part of Magnolia she lives in.

        • Benjamin Lukoff

          And yep, now there are two copies :|

  • Maggie
  • GJ

    “All but the fittest people – the R.E.I. rock climber-types – will be able to get to the lighthouse. There are some formidable hills which would prevent the average person from ever getting to the beach on foot.” — If the average person cant get to the lighthouse, then there is a problem with the average person. I walk this route regularly and to compare it to rock climbing is a complete joke! Whether i like the gate idea or not, once i read that comment i cant believe another word this lady has to say.

    • GJ

      “We are not all R.E.I. fit alpinists. I’ve had to stop and pick up young people who could not climb these hills. The Hills are killer hills. For the average person to enjoy the beauty of this incredible place, it has to be done in a vehicle.” — Is this lady serious? shes just picking up kids who cant make it up the hill? Maybe if people like her didnt baby these fat ass kids they would get some exercise and be able to make it up these “alpine Hills” that anyone who is capable of walking could climb. Who is this lady? She discredits this whole article and im actually not sure why this interview was even conducted or published at all.

      • Heywood

        Whatever government wants, government gets? Let’s hear it for one woman who speaks for many. Small voices that make sense, need a hearing. Bullies take heed.

    • Heywood

      If you walk on the ROAD taking the same route as the big trucks, the hills are formidable. A 3-mile round-trip journey to include children, older people, and a picnic for the family would knock us out. Don’t forget we’re talking after 5 p.m., and close enough to take in the sunset, which in the summer isn’t until about 10 p.m. This stroll, easy for some (good for you!), will kick the heck out of others.

  • Xander

    True, Mary stretched a point to make a point. No, you don’t have to be an alpinist to walk the hill, but let’s keep on track here.

    1) It’s a public beach, why not offer parking down there (without the hassle of a permit)? Convert it to a pay-to-park system that will give it funding to maintain facilities.

    2) Is there a real risk that the waste water treatment plant could gain property rights and assert greater control over access? If that’s true, then that’s reason enough to oppose the gate.

    • Heywood

      Let’s take in the political reality – the politics of parks is that people are bad. They make messes and put wear and tear on the infrastructure. People in parks make bureaucrats work harder. There is nothing they want more than to sit at their desk, push a little paper, and collect a check. Parks management loves the fact that their cherished Master Plan calls for the park to be accessible only by pedestrians, for the most part. This is a bureaucrat’s dream. “I’m sorry, but the Master Plan says you can’t come in here with your car.” I’ll give you some other examples of their nonsense. There are currently two wonderful office buildings in the park recently given up by the Army. Water, heating, bathrooms – they have all the amenities anyone needs to occupy them. They are just sitting vacant. I predict they will sit vacant for years to come. If those two buildings were given a utilitarian purpose, it would require people drive to them in their cars. This sticks in the craw of parks people and their sycophants. Just like the empty school on 28th Avenue, government entities who own these buildings want them to rot in place, so eventually they will cry “asbestos!” and request they be torn down, because it would be too expensive to renovate. All it takes is enough time to go by. Parks people would then replace those valuable buildings and the spaces upon which they sit, with “native vegetation.” Remember, the best parks have no people in them. Travel the road down to the lighthouse and notice where open space on the south part of the road is currently being filled in with that very vegetation. Previously there existed in that location some apple trees. As non-native species, they were not allowed to exist in the park. They have been cut down. Remember, all of this land was previously an Army base. God help us, there were apple trees! Putting a gate across the road to limit access to the lighthouse and the beach is but another step to keep people in their place, which is outside of their precious park.

      • Sgt Bilko

        The Army still owns all of that property.

        • Benjamin Lukoff

          Indeed they do (if you’re talking about what used to be the NE corner of the fort, along 36th). Wish they’d relinquish it…

    • Discovery Lover

      Xander,: Unless a cop is there writing tickets (rare if never), people have blocked the fire truck turnaround area and parked where there aren’t allowed to park, including preventing people who have rights to park there. It’s a public park, for goodness sake. The trail to the beach is less than 2 miles from multiple parking lots, including one at Daybreak Star that’s 1.5 miles or less away. There is no better exercise in the world for people of all ages than walking, and we need to encourage it. The whole access issue can be easily controlled with low-cost technology that truly helps those with disabilities who can be allowed to enter this area by car. That’s why you don’t need to offer full-time parking to the masses of people who have proven at Golden Gardens with easy full-on parking access does to a public asset/treasure.

      • parkingba

        they do give parking tickets. gotten a few….

    • Benjamin Lukoff

      I hope not. The beach is public there. I would be enraged if the city tried deeding the beach to Metro. I don’t think they’d do that, though.

  • Adrienne Miller

    Mary mentioned that the sewage treatment plant had an interest in keeping us off the beach. Can anyone explain why? What do they need protecting from exactly? Will there be any representatives from the sewage plant at the meeting?
    Here’s what Mary said: “I think it’s clear the wastewater treatment plant people are the impetus here. They’re the moving force that want to put up the gate to protect their plant. “…

    • Sgt Bilko

      The proposing parties are the Westpoint Plant and the Parks Dept.

      “Vehicular parking at the beach is very limited and is available only by City of Seattle permit in order to preserve the beach environment and protect the lighthouse facility. Permits are available at the Discovery Park Visitor’s Center. However, other than signage describing the permit requirement, there is currently no mechanism for ensuring that park visitors obtain a permit prior to driving to the beach. The result of this is a crowding of vehicles in the beach area, particularly on good weather days, creating traffic problems and at times blocking access to the main entrance to West Point.”

      From the pdf found at:
      http://www.kingcounty.gov/environment/wtd/About/System/West/Plant/Projects/SecurityGate.aspx

      • Heywood

        Read: People come down to the beach and there isn’t enough parking to accommodate them. When suggested more parking be installed, the Master Plan is hauled out to say, this is supposed to be a pedestrian-access park. You need to walk here, and we will make sure you do. The proposal is to place a locked gate 1.5 miles from the lighthouse up a steep hill. No way for old people or children to make the journey. After 5 PM, no permits are available to park, and the gate is locked. Sunsets and beautiful views are limited to those who can physically make the 3-mile round-trip journey. Have a nice day.

        • parkdweller

          yeah, and walking through the park at night time in the dark is real safe…….

    • Benjamin Lukoff

      They may have an interest, but the beach is public property there.

  • ramparts

    wow a lawyer threatens a federal lawsuit because she can’t walk a mile or two. 1st world problems. alpine indeed. eat less dorritos, everyone…

  • Tomtom

    I totally agree with the previous comment, a bit if exercise for the average people is always good and it is a joke to say that these are killer hills…. I’d rather reserve parking permits to real people with disabilities that extending the parking at the beach.

  • ericsmith

    Once again, not eric smith posting above. Eric Smith walks to the beach all the time and just cannot believe all the uproar. It is an easy hike for all but the disabled and hardly REI rock climbing level. I brought a philosophy prof there yesterday who hasn’t hiked in 20 years and it was no big deal down or back..