Despite ‘Stop Work’ order, Kennedy High athletic field project moves ahead


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by Jack Mayne

On Monday (Sept. 15), Burien city officials posted a “Stop Work” order at a Kennedy Catholic High School athletic field project – but only some parts of the project were actually halted when the city decided that not all of the work was covered by a valid city building permit.

The original stop order was posted Monday after city inspectors noted problems.

About the same time, a resident went to city hall to complain. Will Spruill, a homeowner whose property abuts the field, reported the school’s work appeared beyond the scope of the valid city permits.

So, the “stop work” order, which said, “all persons are hereby ordered to stop work on these premises” was posted at the field behind 140 South 140th Street.

All work not stopped
“The scope of the permitting continued,” Mike Prato, president of Kennedy Catholic High School, wrote in an email news release following a Wednesday afternoon meeting between Kennedy officials, their architect and Chip Davis, the Burien Community Development director.

“Trucks are moving, rock is being distributed, drainage is being approved, turf is being delivered and the timeline marches to our field opening. The work on the field continues.

“Kennedy Catholic is not building a stadium and the parameters of the work was further clarified, with both parties in agreement,” Prato wrote.

So, what happened?
All work was not stopped, said Davis, because “the school has a valid ‘clear and grade permit’ so work on that could and actually did continue and will continue with the new agreement.”

The school is installing Field Turf, the same artificial turf as that used at Century Link Field. That installation requires some drainage improvement and then a hard surface put down on which the artificial turf is laid. The current city permits allowed that work.

But Davis said city inspectors had on Monday noted “significant work” on expanding bleachers “three times the size of the bleachers that were there.”

Davis said inspectors also saw work on a couple of “announce booths.”

Both needed additional permits.

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Bigger project planned
Davis said that at an earlier meeting between his staff and the school, there was discussion of “significant improvements” including more seating, a refreshment booth and restrooms.

“We told them that if they were going expand the seating significantly, we would need to deal with issues that would affect the neighborhood. That would be parking, the additional impact of additional cars parked there, the circulation pattern being disrupted during game times, and also lights and noise.

“We have occasionally received complaints from folks about traffic and parking impacts on the immediately adjacent neighborhood, so we wanted to make sure that there was discussion and some affirmative actions taken before an expansion was allowed.” Davis said.

He said Kennedy came in for a “much larger project” but later decided to move forward first on the field improvements.

“Then, when they had enough money and they had some time, they would come back and do the rest of the expansion which would include the seating,” he said, which would mean applying for additional city permits.

After Wednesday’s meeting (Sept. 17) with Kennedy officials, Davis said the city was not assessing blame.

“We are not determining that there was any intent to engage in any illegal activities as was inferred. It is simply a matter that they got out a little bit on the permits they had in place,” Davis said. “Their interpretation of what was going to be temporary and not permanent work was a little bit different than what we interpret so we are going to have them secure permits for any bleacher work they do and for any of the press box work that it being done.”

The work that was done without permits won’t be used until permits are secured.

Davis said getting the permits “won’t take very long … a couple of weeks” but “any further expansion of the athletic facilities there … is going to require additional permits from the city and there is going to be a process and the neighborhood is going to be able to weigh in.”

Prato, president of Kennedy, said the meeting “included but was not limited to assessing a parking plan for fall contests, a statement of volume regarding expected spectators, accessibility statements, and product data provided to the city regarding the new temporary seating.”

He addressed the different view the school had of the permits.

“There was discussion as to the interpretation of the code as it relates to the status of ‘temporary seating’ and what constitutes permanent (needing permitting) and what is considered temporary. Architect Dan Miles will provide Kennedy Catholic’s understanding of the code interpretation and code verification and will submit this as a part of a temporary use permit to be submitted to the City of Burien.”

The work that was already done on seating and the announce booth won’t proceed without permits until they are secured.

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Neighbor Spruill may be happy at that outcome, because he thinks Kennedy “hasn’t been the best of neighbors during this construction. I tried making a phone call over there. I left some voice mails. I never got any calls back.”

The athletic complex he thinks Kennedy wants to use for their football games now played at Highline Stadium “is greatly going to impact our quality of living,” Spruill said.

“The city has been great, they say they aren’t going to allow them doing it.”

Prato responded for Kennedy by e-mail Thursday afternoon (Sept. 18) and said he had spoken to Spruill.

“Our policy is to return calls within 24 hours,” Prato wrote. “I can’t comment on the past, but what I did offer was to have him come in person to express his concerns (as we did with our invitation to the community at the very outset, and on two separate occasions as permitting indicated regarding the scope of the work on phase one).”

Prato said Spruill will meet with him to discuss “the scope of the work and next steps. I am prepared to listen and respond as indicated by what’s allowable as indicated by our permitting plan.

“Assuredly, when phase two of the permitting is submitted, additional opportunities for all neighbors to weigh in will be provided, as was phase one.

“At the very least, we put names and faces to our neighbors and will work to establish confidence in each other,” Prato added.

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Comments

One Response to “Despite ‘Stop Work’ order, Kennedy High athletic field project moves ahead”
  1. Mike says:

    Build the stadium!

    Build the stadium!

    Build the stadium!

    Build the stadium!

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