[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a Letter to the Editor, written by a verified resident. It does not necessarily reflect the opinions of The B-Town Blog, nor its staff:]

Hello councilmembers,

Fear is in the air, where asbestos is likely not. The surging fear of Burienites, who happen to not frequent the Annex in many cases, has been pervasive on social media this past week. So have been the conspiracy theories as to what plans the City intends for the Annex site. This, however, is no secret. The stated plan for the site as been a recreational center for more than a decade, at a sticker price of over one half our City’s budget. Or the equivalent of one mesothelioma lawsuit, according to our City Staff.

The reality is, there may be positive test results produced by MENG Analysis at tonight’s emergency city council meeting. It has been know for decades that it is there. Even my test results showed that asbestos was present and well within the EPA’s standards for safety.

Majorities of those who frequent the Annex worried about living in uncertainty of the City Staff’s initial decision not to test for pollutants, as many of us witnessed at the January 6, 2020 meeting. The courage of four elected officials reversed that direction.

Every week seems to bring a new large- or small-scale emergency here in Burien. Mismanagement of water distribution resulting in erosions and landslides, mismanagement of city property and assets, and missed opportunities for revenue generating ventures that might allow the City to operate from a robust budget, rather then pinching pennies.

If our vision as a City is to promote culture, education, unity, diversity, and aide the less fortunate, we are veering far from that path. Truthfully, as a City, we lack vision. We should not want the hard earned money of those we are supposed to serve, or from the state, just to produce diminished returns. We as a City could be appealing to greater interests by thinking global, acting local, and cultivating our own financial capital.

Yet here we are subjecting ourselves to the same old political dialectic where fear prevails and paralyzes action. Fear naturally stratifies and banishes us to our political comfort zones, inhibiting collaboration in favor of toeing party lines. This has been the strangest part of the Annex situation. Conservatives promoting the preservation of services for the homeless appealing for a more just transition and Liberals not. At least that is what one my gather by reading what is posted in the chat room battle boxes of Facebook and Nextdoor. A very perplexing political landscape, this issue has created.

The truth is, the Annex’s safety issues can be mitigated far faster and less costly then the MENG report suggests. The Annex can be repaired to a state of use until the City can afford to build a recreational center like the one we would all be very happy to see in the future. But unless there is something we all don’t know, this alternate REC reality is many years away and will lay its foundation atop 7 nonprofits, that may or may not find a home here in Burien or even survive to see a new REC.

Let’s not be surprised by what we hear tonight. There have already been suppression/delayed responses to public records requests compromising the public’s trust, irreproachable actions taken on the merit of verbal communications yet to be fully disclosed to the public, and threats of lawsuits from the City to those who seek answers to this situation.

I can’t imagine this issue ending with any creative solutions offered by the City Staff. However, I can imagine philanthropists, thespians, preschool teachers and priests continuing to demonstrate their disproval for how the Annex issue has been handled.

– John White

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