Northwest NEWS

November 2, 1998


Recreation or Rutabagas?

   After my previous letter to the Woodinville Weekly I expected some good give and take from those opposed to the development of recreational space for the people of this area, and frankly the response from one writer was informative as well as helpful from a historical perspective.
   Unfortunately the writer came to a totally erroneous conclusion in my opinion. I was nonetheless glad to find that the Laotian farmers will not lose their land.
   The other letter writer simply missed the point completely so I feel compelled to reiterate a couple of obvious points.
   First, the issue has nothing to do with farmland across the country. It has everything to do with the weed patches and fallow land in the Sammamish Valley that could have a much higher use and serve the youth of the area in a very constructive and healthy fashion.
   Second, the notion that to remove farmland protection would suddenly allow the land to become covered with more industrial buildings, strip malls or worse is absurd. The people around here are much more intelligent than you apparently give them credit for, or maybe you just don't trust your neighbors.
   Open space and its use is the issue. We need to determine the best use for the most people. I submit that the greatest need in the area around the Sammamish Valley is for parks and recreation space.
   The property in the valley should be used to benefit all of the citizens of the area not just a few small farmers, or even worse, a few small-minded folks who have decided that weeds are more important than kids.
   By the way, if you know of nearby land that is suitable for the development of sports fields, the Northshore Youth Soccer Association would like to know where it can be found. Please call them at 486-5106. If even one good alternative to land in the valley exists it would be a welcome surprise.
   Moving to the Muller Farm property acquired by the Lake Washington Youth Soccer Association (LWYSA) in 1994: The association paid $675,000 for the farm and open space rights. LWYSA did so even though the people of King County already owned the development rights. The obvious question is, why buy the land in the first place. Well, it turns out that the folks at LWYSA were ahead of their time. The association realized that the need for playfields, parks and other open space would soon become critical on the Eastside. They also concluded that it would make far better sense to use open space like the Muller property with infrastructure already in place, than to cut down trees, build roads and drainage retention ponds and the like at substantially greater costs to the taxpayers (10-20 times as much) to build a park.
   LYWSA believes that common sense will prevail. I hope they are correct and I think they will be when the people around here understand the problem.
   Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins of kids involved in youth sports are all taxpayers in King County. If King County owns the development rights to this property, then these folks do too. The time for common sense is now. It is already too late for my own kids to benefit, but it is not too late for their kids if we can all get together and stop the bandits from continuing the current rip-off.
   What is it going to be? Faux farmland or forward looking thoughtful policies that benefit people. Cabbage or Kids???
   Terry Mercier, Woodinville