Council OKs conditional use permit for bleachers, fencing at former Woodway HS

By a 5-2 vote, the Edmonds City Council Tuesday night approved a conditional use permit for bleachers and fencing for a new multi-use sports fields at the former Woodway High School, following a closed-record review of City Hearing Examiner Phil Olbrechts’ April 10 recommendation.

Three parents representing a group that has been lobbying for modifications to the fields project — a joint venture of the Edmonds School District, the city and the Verdant Health Commission — were visibly disappointed after the decision. “The council raised many unanswered questions regarding this project, yet they still voted 5-2 to approve the variance permit,” said parent Laura Johnson.

The council decision covered phase one of what has been envisioned as a three-phase “health and wellness campus” project featuring a walking track, resurfaced tennis and basketball courts, four year-round multi-use turf fields with lights, concessions, and bleachers. A $2.5 million grant by the Verdant is funding the first phase, which would include two sports fields, bleachers and safety fencing. The proposal originally included field lights, but the school district withdrew that request after City Hearing Examiner Phil Olbrechts recommended against approving them.) There is no funding available currently for phases two and three.

The council held two previous meetings on the issue, both closed record reviews of the hearing examiner’s decision, on April 21 and 28. Councilmembers were limited to ruling on the issues the city has control over — in this case a conditional use permit for bleachers and fencing — for fields located next to the former Woodway High building at 23200 100th Ave. W. The Woodway building now houses Edmonds Heights K-12 school, Scriber Lake High School and the district’s V.O.I.C.E. program.

Councilmembers were not able to address two hot-button issues for parents and community members since they fall under the Edmonds School District’s jurisdiction: Whether the district should be using artificial turf — in particular turf made from tire crumb rubber — that some have connected to possible cancer risks, and whether the project overall will have negative environmental effects on area wildlife, since no environmental impact statement was prepared. (The Edmonds School Board is expected to make a final decision on a turf choice for the fields at its May 12 meeting.)

However, the council did discuss at length whether the project would increase traffic and whether there had been sufficient community involvement during the project’s development. City staff noted that Edmonds’ Architectural Design Board held a public hearing and that the school district hosted two community meetings in March, but both Bloom and Petso questioned whether that qualified as adequate community engagement.

Petso then proposed that the council deny the conditional use permit on the basis that having bleachers would impact traffic in the neighborhood and that the process didn’t comply with the city’s comprehensive plan due to lack of public involvement. Petso’s proposal failed, but the council did pass by a 4-3 vote an additional condition proposed by Councilmember Kristiana Johnson, which initially called for the city “to involve the community in the design of the field,” but was then amended — on the advice of City Attorney Jeff Taraday — to read “to continue to involve the community,” to acknowledge the earlier Architectural Design Board meeting.

Bloom and Petso registered their opposition to that addition, and other councilmembers wondered how the condition would be implemented since field design is actually under the school district’s jurisdiction.

Among the conditions included as a result of the final review:

  • The traffic gate that separates the fields from the neighboring street at 102nd Place West will remain closed to all traffic except emergency vehicles.
  • No public address systems or noise amplifications will be permitted.
  • Playfield lights will not be permitted per the hearing examiner’s recommendation.
  • Games must be scheduled so that all play is finished by 10 p.m.

At the end of the meeting, Councilmember Tom Mesaros acknowledged that he shared some of the concerns expressed by community members about the fields project and was hopeful that the project partners — the city, school district and Verdant — would ensure “they are responded to appropriately.”

Other council actions included:

– Approving by a 6-0 vote (Petso abstaining) to accept Luminous Forest as the interim art project for 4th Avenue Cultural Corridor.

– Authorizing staff to acquire by negotiation or condemnation property on the corners of 76th Avenue West and 212th Street Southwest for an intersection improvement project, scheduled to be underway in 2016.

-Appointing by a 5-0 vote the appointment of David Teitzel to the Historic Preservation Commission. (Councilmembers Petso and Bloom abstaining.)

– Approving an ordinance amending the 2015 city budget

– Approving a settlement agreement with New Cingular Wireless to resolve a dispute regarding local utility tax collection.

– Hearing a reminder of the annual Memorial Day celebration, this year set for 11 a.m. May 25 at the Edmonds Cemetery.

  1. that should have never been approved . The neighbors do not want it the public doesnt want it. now there going to put in more of that ugly field turf, forget what everybody says about what you can vote on just stop the project let me tell you something all that bad stuff from the tires is going to get wet drain into the watersystem right into puget sound bad decision that whole project should have been put up for vote its the publics money

  2. The council again delayed the ethics policy. How about putting it at the begging of the agenda and not the last. Makes one pause and wonder

  3. Darryl, maybe not ethical but very effective ( if you oppose a code of ethics in the first place. ). It has been working for years and counting!

  4. They need to place Code of Ethics earlier on the agenda -this is getting ridiculous.

    Sunset Avenue is on next Tuesday’s Agenda…..disappointed that something so controversial is placed at the very end of the agenda, item #16. They still haven’t removed the concrete bumpers in the road.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Real first and last names — as well as city of residence — are required for all commenters.
This is so we can verify your identity before approving your comment.

By commenting here you agree to abide by our Code of Conduct. Please read our code at the bottom of this page before commenting.