By MICHAEL WHITNEY
Published June 13, 2012
Neighbors keep eye on district park properties
EVERETT - There are no immediate plans to sell neighborhood park space in north Everett.
Neighbors in the Port Gardner Neighborhood are keeping a close eye on what happens with Doyle Park and the Norton Avenue Ballfield, which are both owned by the Everett School District.
Doyle Park, a two-acre park at 3420 Grand Ave., and the three-acre Norton Avenue Ballfield in the 3600 block of Norton Avenue are probably too small to build a school on.
Neighbors worry the district will sell these play sites, which district officials deny.
This isn’t the first time the neighborhood has been worried about losing these two play sites. In 2009, the district wanted the city to change the zoning of both sites to make the properties more attractive to a developer. The district backed off those plans after neighborhood outcry. At the time, Superintendent Gary Cohn sent a mass e-mail stating he has no intention to sell the sites.
Lately, the neighborhood’s concerns were heightened by movement within the district to create a framework on what to do with its non-school properties. District officials are quick to point out the framework will not result in any immediate decisions to sell property. It will take at least six months before the framework is acted upon.
Doyle Park and Norton Ballfield are the only two playgrounds for many nearby Port Gardner kids. The city parks department maintains Doyle Park, which a family donated to the district in 1951.
The district got the Norton Ballfield in 1893. It is the original site of Jackson Elementary.
Both sites are zoned for residential use.
If the district did want to sell, it would be good if the parks department bought the sites, board member Ed Petersen said.
“I think it’d be great if the city of Everett parks department would buy them” to keep them for neighborhood use, Petersen said. “The question is if the parks department has the money.”
Buying the properties isn’t in the parks department’s plans and could take money away from other park plans, parks and recreation director Paul Kaftanski said.
“The direction of the department is not one where it is imperative that the City own property that is used for recreational purposes,” Kaftanski wrote in an e-mail, citing a partnership with the Snohomish County Public Utility District to maintain the PUD-owned Interurban Trail for recreational use.
During a school board conversation last week, board members weren’t sure it would be a good idea to sell property. They wouldn’t want to sell now only to need land for new schools to accommodate student growth later. That’s what happened in Seattle, for example, board member Pam LeSesne said.
The five-point framework on property management includes being flexible for growth, maximizing use of district buildings and creating strategic partnerships for student learning.
The district’s other non-school sites include the current administration building on Colby Avenue; the Longfellow Building, which is used for administrative purposes; two large undeveloped lots in south Everett and an environmental science center.
The district is developing the framework now to help determine its future growth, and in part to help decide the future of the administration building and Longfellow Building once the district builds a new, larger administration building near 41st Street and Broadway.