Thoughts for the City Council from a FoDP Volunteer:

May 6, 2014…is what the Seattle Foundation fondly calls their 4th Annual GiveBIGDay.  It is the single biggest day of generous charitable giving to local non-profits in the entire year, by far. 


So sad that the same day we are having to ask for the City Council’s intervention in Mayor Murray’s most generous gift of them all - - the heart and soul of Seattle’s most natural park asset that he is gifting to a non-charitable, non-local, Canadian For-Profit corporation so they and Ohio’s Forest City Enterprises, Inc. can fill their pockets and leave town - - without a whimper from the new City Hall administration in whose hands it has been entrusted. 


The developer’s avowed desire is to re-plat nearly a dozen acres…the absolute center, high ground in the park…into 22 private fee simple estates, each with its own land title to assure the maximum possible profit from their investment.  The skids have been well-greased through each City Department with jurisdiction over the site, over several years, and now what has become known as Murraysville among park visitors, because of the BIG give-a-way which the Mayor could reverse if he would put on his thinking cap, is about to be transferred to 22 separate owners into perpetuity…and the City will be left to maintain and protect the site and its access and views, without City compensation, so the private values will out-perform any others in the City…and be handed down within the anointed families from generation to generation.


This would certainly not be an all outflow expenditure for the City, like the recent Capehart acquisition in Discovery Park…these are very high income-producing properties which the City’s Historic Seattle Authority several years ago estimated were capable of supporting and amortizing at least half of their market value, if professionally managed by people skilled at doing that very thing.  The one hundred years of military ownership has been remarkably gentle on each of the structures, with proper on-going maintenance always of the highest priority.


Assuring absolute City-control of the site and its occupants, forever, has been the primary objective of the Friends Of Discovery Park, for the nine or ten years they have pursued that goal.  But, that wouldn’t preclude the City from eventually selling the properties if they don’t perform as is likely…but with ironclad covenants to protect every aspect of their park location and effect on the park visitor experience.  Obviously, the current owners reject the notion of such covenants as detrimental to their financial exit strategy.      

Gary Gaffner