Landmark Park Threatened by Government Sell Out
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Petition Superintendent Jesús Aguirre of Seattle Dept of Parks and Recreation to do the right thing and obey the law protecting Volunteer Park by not transferring land from open space use to museum use.
According to: Save Our Parks Initiative 42, Ordinance 118477: All park land shall be preserved for park, boulevard or open space use and cannot be sold, transferred or changed from park use to another use, unless:
a) The City holds a public hearing on the necessity of the transaction, and
b) adopts an ordinance finding the transaction is necessary because there is no reasonable and practical alternative and
c) The City receives in exchange a piece of land or facility of equivalent or better size, value, location and usefulness in the vicinity. (January 1997)
Also to change the zoning code to make this expansion legal would set a very dangerous precedent – Allowing a zone code change for a specific use that takes parkland for other uses undermines the City Ordinances and Landmark status protection of parkland. The Dept of Seattle Parks and Recreation has turned its power for the protection of Volunteer Park’s well-being over to the Seattle Asian Art Museum, which leases a park building and is part of Seattle Art Museum. SAAM/SAM is a separate non-profit entity and is not Volunteer Park, who is owned by city tax payers… their interests are not same.
Legally, in 2008, Seattle citizens, in a Parks and Green Space Levy, allocated $9 million (about 40% of the total cost) for the renovation and upgrades for the landmark building that SAM leases from the Park for the Seattle Asian Art Museum. The project didn’t proceed because of the recession. With very little public knowledge in subsequent years, the original $ 29 million renovation proposal became a $49 million renovation and expansion proposal with no justification from SAM why the extra space was needed.
And SAM has failed to meet the requirements of full public disclosure and approval for early building design. The Seattle Dept of Parks and Recreation has dropped the ball by failing to require SAM to prove there is no reasonable and practical alternative to the expansion of SAAM and the taking of parkland from park use. If you open the door to take parkland once it will happen again… SAM will be back wanting more parkland for expansion in another ten years. There are alternative ways for the museum to have the upgrades it needs, which should be thoroughly considered before any taking of parkland.
Volunteer Park is not only a City designated landmark, but is also listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Its designers, the Olmsted Brothers, in 1910 expressed their opposition to erecting buildings in parks, for the reason that "The landscape ceases to be a naturalistic park landscape, and becomes a building landscape."
Part of the proposed expansion is 40’x80’and 50’ high with windows that will be flooded with artificial light and will dominate all the pastoral views of the east-side of the park. The natural open space will be lessened with this expansion. There will be a dominate environment of concrete, glass and light with eyes peering out the windows watching the park goers. The beloved, private and quiet, nature sanctuary atmosphere will be gone along with many of the big trees that will die from the stress of the construction process. On darker days, evenings and nights, especially in winter, the artificial light through the museum windows will be unnatural and unsettling to park goers as well as nearby homes. For many park goers, the side that will be impacted is their serenity and favorite side of the park. There are far more people daily, using and loving this quiet side of the park than will ever go into the museum.
Please help stop the selling out of our landmark park.
For more info visit: http://protectvolunteerpark.org
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