Councilmember Brian Bennett: Open “Limited Secure Access” To Lake Burien
Burienâ€™s â€œhighest priorityâ€ in updating its Shoreline Master Program should be assessing â€œreaches of shoreline where there is no public access,â€ City Councilman Brian Bennett told The B-Town Blog in a recent interview.
But Bennett, who served on the Shoreline Advisory Committee before his election to the City Council last fall, stressed that this view is based solely on his work as a member of that committee.
He vowed as a councilman to listen fairly to the concerns of all shoreline property owners when the council reviews proposed revisions to the plan later this year. He added that private property rights should be protected in the final document.
â€œThere are certain areas of shoreline in Burien without any public access,â€ Bennett noted. Yet â€œpublic policy at the state and federal levels [calls for] access to public waters.â€
Burien has two reaches of shoreline along â€œpublic watersâ€ as defined by state and federal laws â€“ Puget Sound and Lake Burien. Seahurst Park affords access to Puget Sound, and there are also limited access points at Three Tree Point.
But there is no public access to Lake Burien, and â€œthe lake is public property,â€ Bennett said. â€œIt is owned by the city and the state.â€
The question to him then becomes how to create public access to Lake Burien without impacting property owners around the lake.
â€œI would like the community to consider limited secure access, gated with secure buffersâ€ to the lake, he continued. This access would not allow boats and would have only â€œlimited parking to promote people walking.â€
His preferred point of access would be on lakeside parcels adjacent to the Ruth Dykeman Center that center directors hope to sell. Bennett hopes the city will consider buying one or more of these last remaining lots on the lake.
â€œIf they are built on, there will be no opportunity again in our lifetime to gain access to the lake. Itâ€™s important for us to consider thisâ€¦”
â€œThere are kids just a couple blocks away wondering, ‘Why donâ€™t we get to play on the lake?â€™â€ Bennett said. â€œIt concerns me that this is a debate about us against them. Itâ€™s important that as a community we all be together helping each other out.â€
He recalled that Lake Burien is considered the birthplace of Burien, and is just a block from SW 152nd Street â€“ the cityâ€™s â€œmain street” â€“ making it a natural link to the downtown business district.
Bennett also said he has â€œheard from a lot of peopleâ€ about this issue and understands their concerns. Any access to Lake Burien would have to protect the shoreline environment as well as the privacy and property of lakeside residents, he declared.
(Photo of Brian Bennett by Joe Mabel)