BREAKING: King County Gives Up Puget Sound Park To Burien
King County will cede previously contested Puget Sound ParkÂ to Burien when the city annexes much of the North Highline unincorporated area, county Executive Dow Constantine and Mayor Joan McGilton announced Wednesday (Jan. 6).
The joint announcement ends a seven-week impasse between the city and county over the fate of the five-acre park at 1st Ave. S and SW 126th St, and clears the way for Burien to proceed with the final annexation process.
McGilton said annexation probably will take effect on April 1. The city council is expected to vote on that date at their Jan. 11 meeting.
Residents in the southern half of the North Highline unincorporated area voted by a sizeable margin last August to be annexed by Burien. The merger includes transfer of county property in the annexation area to Burien, which the city now will maintain, including streets and parks.
But city officials learned on Nov. 20 that former county Executive Kurt Triplett, in one of his final actions before leaving office,Â offered to sell Puget Sound Park to the King County Library System.
The library system, which was interested in building a new facility at that site and consolidating the White Center and Boulevard Park libraries there, signed a letter of intent to purchase the land for $600,000.
Burien lawmakers, however, were adamant that the park rightfully should goÂ to the city as part of annexation. On Nov. 23, they postponed a vote to approve March 2 as the effective date and delayed annexation until this issue was resolved.
Constantine, who as a county councilman represented Burien, North Highline and West Seattle, inherited the conflict when he took office on Nov. 24. Before taking office, he asked Triplett not to proceed with the sale, and Triplett complied.
â€œA dealâ€™s a deal, and it was the cityâ€™s understanding of the annexation process that it would receive six parks from the County, including Puget Sound Park,â€ Constantine said in the joint announcement.
â€œAfter detailed discussions, I agree that transfer of the park to the city is the right thing to do and should occur as part of that larger annexation.â€
McGilton told The B-Town Blog, â€œI am very pleased that King County understood what Burien was saying, that we needed to be a part of the process in order to acquire Puget Sound Park.
â€œWe are very happy that our new King County executive listened to the concerns of Burien and ultimately agreed that this was the best possible outcome for the city of Burien, for our soon-to-be new residents in North Highline, and for King County as a whole.
She added, â€œThis part of our community has been underserved by parks. We look forward to bringing Puget Sound Park up to Burien standards for the residents who use this facility.â€
In the joint statement, McGilton noted the transfer of the park, which still needs to be approved by the King County Council, â€œsets the right tone for this new era in King County government. I thank the County Executive for his leadership to reach a fair agreement on the parks transfer.â€
City lawmakers had made it clear they considered the attempt by King County to sell the park, which was in the works before Constantine took office, a breach of trust. City Manager Mike Martin declared at that time that annexation would not happen until Burien got Puget Sound Park as part of the deal.
The city council also delayed adopting budget amendments for 2010 that account for additional revenue and expenses due to annexation until the park issue was resolved.