Kent’s secret sale of Pine Tree Park is another example of city leadership’s continued inability to effectively communicate with its citizens and is the most recent example of their failure to properly prioritize the budget.
The City Council continues to blame residents for the failed 2012 levy, which they erroneously call a parks levy. They fail to mention that this was not just a parks levy, but also a roads levy. The outcome may have been very different if it was simply a parks levy. The City Council has been underfunding the parks department for years and is now trying to blame and punish voters by selling a beloved, wildlife-rich neighborhood park.
Selling open green space is not a viable funding option. Kent sold the wooded 10-acre Pine Tree Park for a measly $2 million. This would only cover about half of a proposed project in nearby Springwood Park. This $2 million doesn’t even begin to address the highly visible, high-priority needed park repairs like the closed Lake Fenwick dock, sinking Lake Meridian dock, closed Earthworks Park staircase and Kent Memorial Park’s 40-year-old restroom. This sale will not solve the lack of parks funding.
Once this land is developed, we cannot get it back. Green spaces benefit everyone. There are plenty of open field style parks near Pine Tree, but very few flat wooded public areas. This park provides everyone the opportunity to get out and enjoy nature. It is accessible by foot through Pine Tree Elementary and 114th Avenue Southeast.
Do not believe the City Council when they tell you this park is worthless because it’s too hard to find or access. The best places on Earth are some of the most difficult to get to. What if the federal government sold national parks because they were too hard for most citizens to reach?
The council continues to suggest this sale only affects a few residents. However, lack of transparency, congested roads, overdevelopment and overcrowding of our schools affect all of us.
I hope this sale is a turning point for our city and our city leaders learn they cannot continue to underfund parks or keep citizens in the dark about pertinent issues.
– Zandria Michaud