BREAKING: King County Gives Up Puget Sound Park To Burien

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by Ralph Nichols

King County will cede previously contested Puget Sound Park 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, 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 go 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.

Earlier last year, Constantine twice wrote letters supporting Burien’s claim to Puget Sound Park if the city annexed part of the North Highline area (read our coverage here and here).

“A deal’s a deal, and it was the city’s understanding of the annexation process that it would receive six parks from the County, including Puget Sound Park,” Constantine said in the joint announcement.

“After 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.”

McGilton told The B-Town Blog, “I 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.

“We 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, “This 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.”

In the joint statement, McGilton noted the transfer of the park, which still needs to be approved by the King County Council, “sets 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.”

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.

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9 Responses to “BREAKING: King County Gives Up Puget Sound Park To Burien”
  1. tripC says:

    Glad to see that Burien residents will be getting to keep their park. We can only hope that Dow, being a local boy (W. Seattle), and our former representative, might help end the years of Burien getting the shaft by King county.

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  2. Liz says:

    This is great news! Thanks to Burien and its City Council for standing up for our communities!

    The Burien City Council did more than draw the line in the sand for the County. Three Councilmembers attended the Library System’s Board of Trustees’ last meeting in Issaquah. In addition to explaining Burien’s commitment to saving Puget Sound Park, they started the process of educating the Trustees about the history of the Highline area and the realities of the annexation process.

    Unfortunately, that education is not complete. We still don’t have a guarantee that the Library System has shelved the plan to close and consolidate the White Center and Boulevard Park Libraries. Consolidation of these two neighborhood libraries is a bad idea.

    Both libraries are well used. Many residents don’t own cars. The distance, geography, and lack of sidewalks makes walking or riding a bike between Boulevard Park and White Center dangerous for all, difficult for most, and impossible for many. A consolidated library can’t possibly serve both communities adequately.

    Now that Puget Sound Park has been saved, we need to save our local libraries. The next meeting of the Library System’s Planning Committee is scheduled for January 14th at noon in the Burien Library. The first item on the agenda is the “Process for Library Sites in the Burien, White Center and North Highline Area.” Please attend if you can and/or send an email to the Trustees at [email protected].

    In addition to being on the Burien City Council, Lucy Krakowiak [email protected] is a Library Board Trustee. It seems she has refrained from participating in this very serious discussion. If you email her directly, please be sure to ask her to forward your comments on to the rest of the Library Board of Trustees.

    Again, thank you Burien!

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  3. Joe Fitzgibbon says:

    Really great news. I think more cities will be interested in pursuing annexations if they know that “a deal is a deal” and that the county will treat them fairly, as King County has now done for Burien.

    I agree with Liz, though. Boulevard Park and White Center are far apart and each needs their own library.

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  4. Rebecca Wells says:

    Now we just need to make sure that KCLS makes good on the 2004 library bond, which was approved by county voters, which approved funds for new or remodeled libraries in both White Center and Boulevard Park. We’re paying taxes for services that we are not receiving.

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  5. Greg says:

    A big “thank you” is in order to those that fought to keep the county from selling Puget Park. Mike Martin, Burien city manager, stood his ground and took an unpopular action to the citizens of North Highline by postponing annexation. Mr. Martin was criticized for this move by some writers to this blog. We see that his actions were the right ones and I feel it is because of this postponement that the county gave in and the park was saved.
    Thank you to the Burien City Council for supporting the citizens of North Highline in our fight to make our area a better place to live.
    Of course the real troopers are the citizens who are actively involved in saving our parks.
    The North Highline Unincorporated Area Council who represents the citizens of North Highline was in the trenches working hard to save the Puget Sound Park. This is now the second time that NHUAC has fought to save that park from the county trying to sell it.
    We ALL need to get involved if we want our area to be a great place to live. I encourage citizens to attend the Burien City Council meetings. If you want to really get involved, go to and learn more about NHUAC. These ordinary citizens are getting involved and making a difference.

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  6. napavine says:

    What a great out. If the annexation proves to be a mistake, we can just call it an April fools joke, and give it back.

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  7. Ed Dacy says:

    I am very pleased that Burien will be acquiring this park.

    I hope this will begin a new relationship between Burien and King County. I am concerned if King County is going ahead with the sale of another park. If so where? Whose’s park?

    I do hope that the King County Library Board does not close the two libraries….

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  8. Grover says:

    If we want to keep the WC Library and the Boulevard Park Library open we need to let the library board know that. Their is a meeting of the board on January 14th at noon at the Burien Library. We need to show up in force and speak our mind.
    Also, we can speak at the ballot box. Lucy Krakowiak, who is on the library board, is also on the Burien City Council. She sided with the library in selling the park and did not feel a moral obligation in not letting the City of Burien or the citizens of North Highline know what was going on.
    She needs to be taken out of office and replaced with someone who will represent us.

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  9. Rob says:

    Bye bye (or maybe that should be Buy Buy) Kurt- son’t let the door hit you on the butt on your way out!

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