Northwest NEWS

October 11, 1999

Editorial

Support progress toward safe and healthy communities with recreational opportunities and parks

   The King County 1999 Benchmark Report on the effectiveness of County and City growth policies and plans was published last month. The report ranks all King County cities on their achievements toward community planning goals. It places the City of Woodinville 32 out of 35 cities in King County in parks and open space.

   Woodinville has 1.29 acres of Open Space and Parks per 1,000 residents compared to a countywide average of 15.22. The five acres of Sorenson playfields are essential for reducing the City's deficiency in parklands.

   Changing the use of those fields would contradict Growth Management Act goals for meeting the communities need for parks and recreation and years of investment in the fields by the community.

   Fortunately, Mayor Brocha has been a supporter of parks, and he recognizes the importance of recreation to the health of our community, especially our youth. Many people in the greater Woodinville area appreciate his support for playfields at Sorenson and the South Gateway Park.

   Thanks to the leadership of King County Councilmember Louise Miller and Executive Ron Sims, progress towards the South Gateway Park advanced another step last week with the acquisition of the "Fire District property." The park is now 21 acres, which is enough space for several new baseball and soccer fields and other community amenities. The baseball fields will especially be needed if existing fields are lost at the 145th St. complex due to stream restoration for salmon recovery.

   An unfortunate obstacle to the South Gateway Park is a small group of highly vocal and strident people claiming to represent Hollywood Hill. They claim to be the elected board of the Hollywood Hill Association (HHA), but year after year, they control uncontested elections and the full membership does not vote. Recently, they have been using Hollywood Hill Association (HHA) membership fees to pay attorneys to oppose the South Gateway Park. Their obstruction of this park hurts our community and puts the safety of our children at risk.

   South Gateway Park will finally realize a promise for a park in our area made under the Forward Thrust Bond Issue in the 1960s and through state funds dedicated to recreation. Through legal actions, which were overruled in Superior Court, the HHA board slowed the development of this park and cost youth organizations thousands of dollars in attorneys' fees that could have been spent on building playfields.

   The HHA was founded, in part, to improve opportunities for recreation in the community, but the present board apparently places a higher priority on paying attorneys to fight a much-needed community park than on the health and safety of our children. The fight against South Gateway Park has apparently so consumed the resources and the agenda of the HHA board, that they won t even contribute to improvements to the elementary school playground. This board is not responsive to the needs of our community.

   As past president of the Hollywood Hill Association, I believe that recent presidents Ken Goodwin and Steve Gallagher have ignored and betrayed the membership and the needs of our community. Last October, after years of protests at the annual meetings, members overcame the objections of the board and voted 125 to 3 to have the board stop opposing South Gateway park. However, Ken and Steve have continued to claim they represent Hollywood Hill, they have refused to poll the members or provide information on membership, and they will not provide members with information on how they are spending membership fees.

   In defiance of the needs of the membership, board members continue to lobby against a park that will benefit many Hollywood Hill residents. HHA members who advocate the park are excluded from meetings that are now held in "executive session". At the same time, they have denied members access to HHA records which members have a clear legal right to see. This is a disgrace.

   The present HHA board not only wants to take away South Gateway Park, but without polling the membership, they have taken legal action to block improvements to the Redwood Golf Driving Range and requested that the county raise taxes to convert the Redwood Golf Center, Gold Creek Athletic Club, and the Forward Thrust parkland to farmland. They have promoted their personal and narrow vision of how the open space of the Sammamish Valley should benefit our community and have opposed preservation of the valley's open space and soil with parks and playfields.

   People are entitled to their own opinions, but this type of misuse of the Hollywood Hill Association to promote personal agendas so contrary to the interests of Hollywood Hill's families is disgraceful. In my opinion, Steve Gallagher and Ken Goodwin are not fairly representing the needs of the HHA, and they should resign and allow a more balanced representation of our communities needs on the board.

Geoff Clayton, Woodinville