Burien City Council wants to know where the next airport will be


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By Jack Mayne

Burien City Councilmembers have by 6-0 vote approved a resolution asking county and state officials to look at the burgeoning growth of Sea-Tac Airport and figure out who is responsible for when the present airport reaches its limit to further expansion.

Deputy Mayor Nancy Tosta chaired the committee comprised of local citizens and three members of the Council. The other Councilmembers were Mayor Lucy Krakowiak and outgoing Councilmember Debi Wagner.

“We are not going to stop development at the airport,” said Tosta. “(The) challenge is to figure out how to take advantage of it and … minimize the impact on the community. One thing that became clear to us was potentially within eight years, SeaTac will essentially be at capacity.”

Wants some response
The Councilmembers made it clear they wanted the senior governments to answer their questions in the unanimously approved resolution.

It asks that King County, the Puget Sound Regional Council, the Washington Legislature and the governor’s office “take deliberate action to fund and implement the means to cooperatively update an existing or, as needed, develop a new plan that will address the region’s long-term aviation capacity needs. This effort will serve the purposes of both future economic development and reduction of health-related impacts for communities proximate to airport facilities.”

The resolution said “this effort must be launched as soon as possible.”

Tosta said the Burien group listened to several plans and met with many groups and there may be some underestimation of the growth and its impacts.

School graduation rates
Dr. Susan Enfield, superintendent of Highline Public Schools, told Councilmembers the district is working on their promise made five years ago that “every student in Highline Public Schools is known by name, stength and need, and graduates ready for college, career and citizenship.”

She showed a chart that displayed graduation rates by race and ethnicity, and noted that for the fourth year in a row, the district has experienced increases in graduation rates, which a stated goal of a minimum of 95 percent of students.

“Obviously we are not there yet, but we are a lot closer than we were four years ago,” she said, lauding both district staff and its students. Enfield said it was not just gains of one group of students.

“We’re seeing every single group of students make gains and what we are incredibly proud and heartened by we are seeing gain made in double digits for particular student groups who traditionally do not do well in our K-12 systems,” Enfield said, adding there are “impressive gains” among Pacific Island and Native American students.

The district has also pulled racial groups into smaller categories; for example, Somali and Ethopian groups are new viewed separately from other black minority populations to better track their performance.

Other areas the district contends with are issues beyond race and ethnicity.

Students come with various issues, including special needs, speaking languages other than English, relying on the district for most of their meals, and they are also excelling “at rates we haven’t seen like this in the past.”

Placement and delinquency
Enfield says students say they want to be challenged more so they have increased advanced placement offerings, and Highline is at the forefront of increasing computer science courses. They are also working to increase those taking – and passing – advanced placement exams.

She added that she feels the public obligaiton to see that students get preparation jobs locally, so that ”our own community and economy thrives as your students graduate.”

The superintendent said the district was shifting discipline practies, removing students from campus “when we have to for safety and security’s sake” and “the number went up this past year of out-of-school suspensions and expulsions,” and that is “testament that we put the safety and security of our students and staff first.”

“We are not going to remove a student from school unless we absolutely have to,” she told the Burien City Council.

Moshier Park proposal
Burien has been approached by representatives from Cascadia Capital and NorPac Sports about a public-private partnership to develop and upgrade the city’s Moshier Park athletic field complex into a multi-sports complex “that will benefit the entire community.”

The city would expedite permitting and later enter into a long-term lease with NorPac Sports “for a nominal amount,” said Michael Butler, CEO of Cascadia Capital. It would include a baseball facility where outstanding athletes from outside the area would come to work and learn.

The baseball facility would be for young men, but all other activities and venues would be for men, women and the elderly, Butler said.

He said the proposal would use private funds to replace all grass fields with artificial turf for year=round use, upgrade field lighting, add restrooms and concession facilities as well as adding a 51,000 square foot indoor facility, along with additional related improvements still under consideration.

The upgraded facility would be “available for high school, grade school, softball, lacrosse, soccar, baseball and football,” Butler told the Council.

“We are also proposing building a 160 by 320 foot indoor facility that is also available for community activities,” he said.

Under the proposed agreement, Burien and NorPac Sports would sign a long-term lease for the upgraded facility for use as a baseball complex. There also would be decisions on programs to define the conditions of use for the improved playfield, including maintenance and operations responsibilities for a shared use between the city, Highline Public Schools and NorPac Sports.

The proponents said they will continue to develop the potential and work with city staff to see how the project develops, said Butler.

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