by Jack Mayne

A small group of residents are continuing their efforts to have the city of Burien purchase for a public park a recently rezoned portion of the Ruth Dykeman Children’s Center property on Lake Burien.

The area was rezoned last December, so the Dykeman Center can sell it to improve its revenue structure during the current economic downturn. When approached by the group calling itself the Committee to Free Lake Burien, Dykeman’s CEO said the center would not sell the land for a park.

Lake Burien is well known to long-term residents of the city but newer residents are likely to ask, “There is a lake in Burien?” That is because the lake is completely surrounded by private homes with no public access to it.

Under federal law, all lake shores the size of Lake Burien are considered public, but the sticking point is getting to the lake across private property.

The rezoned land, apparently for sale at some time in the future, would not include public access to the lake, which is vehemently opposed by owners of the property surrounding Lake Burien,

A flier by area resident Lee Moyer says the property should be purchased as a lake front park.

“This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the City of Burien to gain a park on Lake Burien for the benefit of all the citizens of Burien,” said Moyer. “It will add to the value of the residences in the area, the Town Center and the businesses in Olde Burien. It is a difficult time financially, but with dedicated money available and a depressed real estate market, it is also a bargain for the City of Burien.”

He suggests that there may be money available from King County park bond funds and possibly other sources, despite the financial crisis.

Emelie McNett lives in a blue-collar area of North Burien and has been a resident of Burien for 35 years, native plant steward, watershed steward, former Burien Park Board member and current member of the Shoreline Advisory Committee.

“I am particularly interested using the rezoned Ruth Dykeman property as a Burien Park” she says. “Many low income Burien residents live less than a mile from the water but are denied access because of the barrier of private property. A pocket park on Lake Burien would help mitigate this lack of access.”

The city just is not interested at all.

“We are not interested,” said City Manager Mike Martin. “We have not discussed it. We have no money.”

So, what do you think? Please answer our Poll below:

[poll id=”20″]

[Sunrise & Rainbow Photos courtesy Gregory Rehmke]

Senior Reporter Jack Mayne passed away in December, 2021. In his honor we have created the Jack Mayne Journalism Scholarship.

45 replies on “Should Lake Burien Get A Public Park? City Says No’”

    1. lake burien is a beautiful area, and with public access kids will be coming on properties, vandelizing homes and leaving trash around the lake, the people living here pay for there homes thinking this will be a private, clean lake not one being desroyed by careless kids!

  1. I think what makes Lake Burien a great place to live is the fact that it is private. Although a park would be nice for non-lake burien residents like myself, I'm afraid the minority of inconsiderate patrons would ruin it for both the considerate patrons of the park as well as the residents of the lake. Its just not a good idea.

  2. I am a non-lake burien resident. Keep it private! The lake would have to deal with a bunch of hooligans gallivanting at night drinking and leaving trash everywhere as if we don't have enough of that. if you want to see some water go the Seahurst beach!!! It's not that much farther away.

  3. The points against making a park on Lake Burien are ones that would apply to any park. Should we deprive the citizens of all their parks just to spite a few hooligans? Lake Burien is not very pristine. It is surrounded by bulkheads, docks, water toys, and green lawns. The area in question is part of what little natural shoreline is left. A park would be better protection than more houses like those now on the water. If you would like to help make this a reality, please contact us at [email protected].

    1. Circa 1899, the Washington legislature did a really terrible thing to our natural heritage: it conveyed most of our beaches (salt and freshwater) to private owners. That was one of the worst ecological disasters to befall our waters. Since then, private owners have altered, armored, degraded and abused something that should belong to all of us.

      At one point, beaches in California belonged to private owners. Then, their legislature stood against the rich and powerful and took back the beaches for public ownership. Perhaps, someday, our legislature will acquire the ‘stones’ to act similarly. Had the public owned Puget Sound beaches, perhaps it would not be as threatened as it is, requiring huge sums for remediation.

      Are the “owners” of Lake Burien good stewards? Well, some of them undoubtedly are. Yet others are just as abusive to this resources as all the angry, negative comments on this thread content that I would be. The lawn fertilizer runoff into the lake alone is massive and clearly indicated by the algae bloom.

      It is true the city does not have the funds to purchase the Dykman property. Yet it’s also true the the city has acquired other public land leveraging private and nonprofit funds, including portions of Seahurst Park.

  4. If you want to use this lake…you need to buy a home on it…it is that simple! There are a couple for sale right now….We do not want another Angle Lake.

  5. This is long overdue. I expect there will be storng oppositon to opening the lake to the public by the owners of beach property. It can create a nuisance and it may somewhat diminsh their value. I first lived here in 1976 – and it took many years to learn there was a Lake Burien. This opportunity should not b squandered.

  6. Some things are public…like seahurst park….eagle landing park…..saltwater park…alki beach….etc etc…. and some things in this world are private….and should be left that way. If I want to golf at Rainier GCC, I have to be a member. Kind of the same thing. Attention should be paid to cleaning up our streets and taking good care of our area as it is, not putting energy into something that is and was not meant to be changed.

    1. It is not that simple. The surface of the lake is public. It happens to be surrounded by private property so the public resource is not available to the public.
      The Burien Shoreline Master Plan state it is public policy to acquire public access to the water. Rainier GCC is a privately owned resource. Lake Burien is not.

      1. hi Lee,
        once again you quote from a DRAFT document. The update to the Burien Shoreline Master Plan is in draft status and becomes a legally referencable document only when approved by the majority vote of the city Council. That vote will not occur any earlier thatn 2010. Therefore your statemet that the city is obliged to seek public access is not accurate. it is not obliged unless there exists some city document to that intent (and there is presently none such)

        Your lack of interest in facts is disconcerting. For all reading along here, Lee Moyer has a strong personal interest with a manufactured public interest patina. And facts are not necessarily of much interest in his personal agenda.

        Please do try to raise the truth bar Lee.

        Don (SHORELINE MASTER PLAN ADVISORY COMMITTE MEMBER .. and president of lake burien shore club)

        1. I regret not checking this blog more frequently. To let Don’s distorted broadside and personal attack go unchallenged gives it undeserved credibility.
          We both are on the same Shoreline Master Plan Advisory Committee and received a summary of the existing Burien Comprehensive Plan, which includes:
          “2.13.3 _ Public Access Master Program Element
          Goal PA.1
          Increase and enhance public access to shoreline areas, consistant with the natural shoreline character, private rights, and public safety. “
          I mistakenly attributed it to the Shoreline Master Plan instead of the Comprehensive Plan, Don says no such policy exists. I guess the reader can decide who’s truth bar is higher.
          He goes on to accuse me of having “a strong personal interest with a manufactured public patina. And (sic) facts are not necessarily of much interest in his (my) personal agenda.” I’m sure curious about the facts to back up that statement but it seems more likely to be the mud used to hide the desperation of a losing debater. Unlike Don, who lives on the Lake, I have no “strong personal interest”.

        2. I’d like to know what Moyer’s personal agenda might be. Innuendo allegations are of no value and indicate the maker has an agenda.

          1. In order to figure out an agenda, you would usually have to know background history. You’d have to know their views, maybe previous employment? I’m sure there are quite a few people who would like access to the lake for a variety of reasons, kayaking being one. Who knows? I could be way off…

  7. I grew up only a few blocks from the lake, yet never knew it was there for many years. It was not until I started making friends with kids that lived on the lake, that I was able to access it. I agree there are many people who do not know it exists. While many people prefer it that way, those who live close by and do not have a real means to access the other public beaches, should be able to enjoy Burien’s hidden beauty. Although there are many homes surrounding the lake, it is a beautiful lake. A small park on the lake would benefit many people. Sure there will be the problems with hooligan’s and trash and stuff, but that seems to be a problem everywhere! I for one wished I had public access to it when I was growing up, and even now I would love to able to visit that lake.

  8. I have lived in Burien for 25 years. I have seen it go from a full blown ghetto with crime on every street to where it is now. To hear people complain about the ‘thugs’ has to make me laugh because we are 10 FOLD better off than we were just a few short years ago. Burien is a great place; I have been thru the good and the bad. As far as the lake is concerned, no disrespect to anyone but WHO CARES!! Those of you who want access….have you ever been there? Trust me, it’s not special. It’s an oversized mud puddle. You can’t ride a boat on it, you can’t really fish (unless residents dump fish into it). Swimming??? Maybe for kids but anyone who values their cleanliness stays far from it. It’s been nick named scummer pond ever since I can remember. The people who live on it are usually great but again, living on lake Burien is more of “hey I have money, I live on a lake!!” than an actual “yea, we take the jet skiis out and go fishing on the lake by our house”
    I have lived on the lake, had friends who lived on the lake and in the end; everyone has agreed…..this lake blows and the housing is overwhelmingly overpriced.

  9. Access to Lake Burien would be a huge benefit for the residents of Burien. Many children enjoy playing at Lake Burien School Park across the street. Allowing them to cool off in the water would be a nice benefit for the kids who’s parents can’t afford a house on the water; especially on hot summer days like today! Seahurst is a nice park, but the Puget Sound is not ideal for kids to go swimming. If the City of Burien refuses to look into adding a Park at Lake Burien, perhaps they would be open to the idea of a water spray playground similar to the Tukwila community center and Auburn’s Les Grove Park.

    1. I agree with all you say, but the park probably would not have a swimming area. It is a sensitive natural area, which means mostly rushes and muck at the beach. It could have a small dock but that would not be condusive to children playing in the water. Picnicing near the water would still be nice.
      It is interesting that if it is a park, the officials will follow the rules of habitat protection. Check out the private property with bulheads, sandy beaches and water slide playgrounds to see what private protection of the lake means.
      Lee Moyer

      1. I’m going to go ahead and upset good old Lee. I am a non-Lake Burien resident and it is a horrible idea to open it up to the public. Just because some people can’t afford to live on the lake does not mean you have to punish those who can by letting God-knows-who have access. There I said it…. It leaves the shoreline residents vulnerable to vandalism, burglary, and so on.
        Lee buddy, you apparently have way too much time on your hands or you have a chip on your shoulder for some reason… I tell you what, if you want to do something for the good of humanity, go to Nickelsville, pick up a couple of people, and bring them back to your place to live.

        1. “Just because some people can’t afford to live on the lake does not mean you have to punish those who can by letting God-knows-who have access”
          And just because you have money does not mean you should thinke you can own a public water way!”

  10. I agree with Darren- I too grew up in the vicinity of lake burien, never having seen it. I think it is a great oppurtunity and yet Mike Martin poo poos it. Maybe the citizerns of lake burien are paying for his rehab. Who knows? Anyway I don’t think the garden club, aka the city council should be so quick as to say no. But then what am I thinking- this is a city council who spends meillions on citizens for private intyerests (Town Square condos) and doesn’t spend on cent in the other neighborhoods around the city.

  11. Having lived on the east side of First Ave S for 37 years, a neighborhood made up largely of blue collar low and middle income families, having been a member of the Burien Park Board for four years and currently a member of the Shoreline Advisory Committee, I can unequivocally say that you can never have enough “open space” in our urban areas. A small park on Lake Burien would provide just one more spot for us who cannot otherwise afford the luxury of full-time living on waterfront another place to land on a hot summer afternoon, relax, reflect, and enjoy a small retreat for a a short time. So, you NIMBYs who have the great good fortune of living on the lake, lighten up. I promise I’ll pick up after myself. You’ll never know I was there.

  12. I don’t live on the lake and only today discovered its existence. I say leave it alone and let the residents have some peace. It’s lovely to think there will be picnickers and children enjoying such a park, but the ugly truth is that the parking lot will become a destination spot for punks and thugs thumping their rap, drinking, smoking various substances, squealing their tires, breaking bottles and dumping their trash. Taxpayers will foot the bill for the cleanup and the extra police patrols. As attractive as the unicorn and lollipop believers’ assertions are, the truth is such a public park will become a place avoided by the decent folk, a money drain for all of us and a bane to the poor souls living next to the mess.

    1. Yes, because the “thugs and gang bangers” have been itching for years to get a piece of Lake Burien. You are entirely correct, open up a park and you are going to attract the same rif-raf the rest of Olde Burien attracts. I mean have you seen the crowd at the Mark lately? Hoodlums. And if the young children want a place to play they can go somewhere safe….like the skate park, or maybe the transit center.

      Please let me know as soon as you all wise up and build a fence around the perimeter of the lake, I would be happy to donate some labor hours.

      Keep on building the beautiful Burien Community guys.

  13. Stan is right. I don’t live on the lake, but I do live on the Puget Sound, and own my own beachfront. Everyday, people walk across the private area with little regard to my privacy and the privacy of my family, despite the fact that Lomen Beach Park is on one end, and Lincoln Park is on the other. I grew up poor in the country and worked very hard for everything I have, including my little strip of PRIVATE beach. If you want a piece of the American Pie, instead of fighting to take away part of what others have earned, why not work hard enough to earn enough to buy your spot on the lake? People who bought there, did so when the rules were clear it was private. Now you want to change the rules for your benefit, likely reducing their home values, with no compensation to them, and expect them to like it, and the city to pick up the tab. The government is here for your pleasure? No, it is not. The reason the City is spending millions to improve Burien is to get the crime out, attract taxpayers (condo owners pay A LOT of property tax) to pay for parks and improvements and services that you do/will benefit from. If it is such a good idea, and so many people in Burien want it, get them all together, buy the land, build a community home that you can all take turns cleaning, maintaining and using, and play by the rules and see how well it turns out for you. Don’t force your tax taking dreams on the rest of us. Yes, I realize you claim this is a “public beach”, but not by the current rules, and the fact it is clearly shows why government should not be in the business of owning lakes in the first place.

    1. VK, I appreciate what you’re regard for others hard work but when a property is valued X there is never any guarantee that it will retain that value. Dozens of homes have gone up for sale on Lake Tapps because it’s being repurposed as a reservoir and motor boats will be banned. When you buy expensive property you have to account for the possibilty that the factors which justify the high value might not always exist.

      You observe that if people want a piece of the pie that they should work hard but you also have to respect that people pay taxes and with these taxes they are also entitled to a few nice things, and these public parks make Burien a more desirable city.

      Regarding privacy on your beach, I realize that legally you’re entitled to exclusivity but you’re simply not going to get it in this area. You would have to move to a less populated area.

  14. VK
    The rules were never clear that the lake was private. Loud and powerful voices keep making that claim, but repetition does not create fact. It is and always has been a public resource and the surface is and always has been a public right of way. It is simply surrounded by private property and the public is depirved of access. A private person or public entity can buy property on the lake and gain access. I feel that a park on the lake is the greater good and would increase the value of many homes in the neighborhood, not maintain an artificial exclusiveness for a few.

  15. I’m not sure about Burien but I recently read about how SeaTac’s city council spent an unusually large amount of time worrying about some ordinaces pertaining to waterfront maintenance Angle Lake. The lake front owners seem to have a disproportionate influence there. I hope that’s not the case in Burien.

  16. I very much resent Lee Moyer’s inference that the Burien City Council is influenced in any way by the Lake Burien homeowners. None of the city council members own property on the Lake. And, I have yet so see any Lake Burien resident’s name on the list of election contributors that is published by the PDC. I think you owe the Burien City Council an apology for your insinuations. I do see the same two or three people responding to every comment and trying to stir up interest in getting the city to spend a million dollars or more to buy property on Lake Burien. In case you don’t realize it, not only are we in a a deep recession, but also car sales, a major part of Burien’s sales tax revenue, are way down. In addition, the casino closed its doors. Burien just voted down by a large margin the proposal to build more sidewalks and bike paths. And that was a much more deserving project that buying the three or four of you a swell lake front park.

    1. Your points are valid, the points that Lake Burien should be exclusive to “hard working” rich people is less so.

      1. Leonard makes some good points. However, I have some forwarded emails from friends sent by council members statiing essentially that the idea is dead in the water. The Burien Blog quotes the city manager as simply being against a park. He had no comments on feasiblilyty or real issues. There is money available from dedicated public access sources, as the city administration knows since they have used these sources before. If the cost was $1M, the city’s share would be a few hundred thousand. The recession that cuts city income also cuts property acquisition costs. Looking back twenty years from now, what expenditure of a million dollars would be a more significant accomplishment than a park on Lake Burien within an easy walk of the town center?

  17. Lake Burien waterfront is fairly cheap as lake front properties go, and I suspect the reason is because it’s immediately surrounded by much much cheaper property (a large percentage of it is rental I believe) and that in turn depresses tax funds and the quality of public services, making the area less attractive to people who buy lake front property. It’s a vicious cycle. If we hide behind snobby individualism and don’t make some sacrifices then Burien will continue to look like a regressive town that is always good and never great.

  18. Andrew:
    Please show me where in my comment I said that “Lake Burien should be exclusive to hard working rich people.” If I didn’t say that why are you claiming that I did? Also, I still haven’t heard an apology to the members of the Burien City Council for your claims that the residents of Lake Burien have some special influence over them. Just having emails that states the city council doesn’t share your passion for this project doesn’t mean that either side has undue influence over them.

    And, since both of you seem to have missed the main point of my comment I’ll try and explain it to you one more time. We are in a recession and the city doesn’t have extra money to spend. They will be doing well just to maintain current services.

    The city’s budget is not that different from the family budget. If we don’t have the money we can’t spend it. That’s what got the state of California in such trouble financially. There is no money tree growing at city hall, nor are there monies available “from dedicated public access sources.” You are talking about tax money, which is collected from those of us who work and own property.

    It doesn’t matter what the price of something is if you have the money. If you don’t believe me look at the minutes from last night’s city council meeting. Or, look at the b-town blog’s lead article about the Nissan store not being able to reopen. That’s a lot of sales tax the city won’t have.

    1. – The “hard working rich people” comment was directed ak “VK”, not you.

      – I said, quote, “Your points are valid”

      – I did not accuse Burien of pandering to lake front owners, I mentioned that SeaTac appeared to do so according to a comment left by someone who attended their council meeting.

      With the exception of SeaTac and Angle Lake, few other nearby cities have a resource as unique and desirable as Lake Burien at their disposal. I’m amazed that the city hasn’t made more of an effort to boast it’s presence and include it in public life.

      It’s true that acquiring land would cost money, but increasing the value of property in a neighborhood increases property taxes so it’s possible for a park to pay for itself, especially over a long period of time.

      The property values of the lake front homes themselves is affected by the home values of the greater neighborhood, lake front owners do not live in a vacuum and this is not a lose-lose proposition for them.

      Supposing noise is a concern, it would be limitted to three months out of the year, during the noon hours and mostly on weekends but then again I can think of much worse sounds than that of people having a good time, like say the noise from airplanes.

    2. forgot to mention; a lake park makes a city lake look more attractive. They brake up the monotonous coastline of tightly packed dwellings with a natural green area with benches and walk ways. Parks make an otherwise stuffy, crowded lake look more open and active.

  19. Sorry, in the last paragraph I mean to say that “It doesn’t matter what the price of something is if you don’t have the money to pay for it.”

  20. the only people who dont wont the lake to be open are those 3 tree faggots. they are acting selfish and childish, and, surprisingly, these are full grown adults. i doubt that they really care about the environment as they claim, it seems like theyre just grasping for excuses to keep the lake private. they claim that it is like their backyard….but in reality it isnt, the lake is public, and therefor should rightfully be open to the public.

  21. I think this is a lot simpler than people are making it out to be. Legally, the lake is public. regardless of ALL other factors, access should then legally by public unless and until the law itself it altered.

  22. I grew up on the lake in 50’s. It had great bass and catfish, but no trout as it got too warm, and usually froze over. Motor boats – only a few, you could row anywhere in a few minutes.
    In 59 the State expected to get public access and stocked the lake with trout, which enlarged the bass size greatly! The point I have not made well is that this is a big pond.
    A large influx of people and boats would over-pollute this already fragile water. I can see everyone’s side as to rights and useage for people, but what about the lake’s minimal water quality? Perhaps the waterfront owners could raise enough money to buy the land themselves? I wish the lake the best.

  23. i think they should open it as a testing for a few years and see what happens if crime skyrockets then close it or put cameras up even web cams i think most of people that live on or a round the lake whould most likey call cops on anyone there like in Normandy park if you don’t look like belong there or no one knows you they tend to call the cops its like the people around there think that a bunch of so called thugs mosty people between the ages of 13 and 30 is what they think are thugs when most are not there are some problem makers in that age group but not all are most that live around there are good kids no matter what music they listen to or what type of clothing they where or cars they drive and most on the lake have some type of alarm system that will keep the criminals away for breaking in to the houses if theres no swimming and a fence around the park this will help keep crime down to but most of the tight wads that live on the lake tend to have there heads up there asses when comes to lower income people coming that area so may be we need to invest in some shoe horns and wd-40 to help them pull there heads out theres asses but of course there rich they think they own everything or can buy everything in the world the lake water is public own then why don’t we cut the water off to the lake and the tight wads can pay for there own water for the lake they have the money for it i think it whould be better for a park then having a empty pit but owell the people around are afraid of change so they will probly hire big time lawyers to fight anyone that trys to open a park and i bet there are fish still in it like at arbor lake theres tons of fish but everyone thinks there nothing in there but you go down there during the summer months put a hook in the water with a pice of worm and bobber and puff you catch a few and from what i have herd from the guy that test the water cant remember his name but he says the fish in arbor should be safe to eat to witch is great news since a few years ago you chould not eat them so it show that parks can change and arbor has had it share of problems but it is getting better less crime cleaner water not as bad of a alge bloom as lake burien and most of arbor lake is open to the public and sorry ofr any spelling errors i have some learning disability’s that spell check just cant help with that much

  24. I can see how this battle is going on, and it will be interesting to see what happens. But at the same time I took a look from above. What a waste of land there for wild birds, and stuff with all that grass. I’m working on a yard near that lake now, and taking out the grass quite a bit. I wouldn’t put in any tall stuff to block the view, but there’s lots of short plants to help the native wild animals. They’re more fun to look at, and the plants have pretty colors. I guess there’s much that could be done, but then there’s much less yard to cut. Not as much of that fertilizer crap would go in the water too.

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