Thursday, May 23, 2013

Waterway Basketball Court To Be Maintained By Seattle Parks And Recreation

Waterway #1 Basketball Court

The popular  70 year old basketball court located at Waterway #1, 43rd Avenue NE and NE 34th Street, is old and decaying with cracks and a two-foot sinkhole at one end.

In March, the Laurelhurst Community Club (LCC) encouraged neighbors to sign a petition to have the State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) adhere to its existing contract to maintain, enhance and restore the site. And over the years volunteers have been maintaining the area as best they could, LCC said. .

However, DNR told LCC that a new facility is needed, rather than a repair, and they wanted to charge the neighborhood an annual lease fee based on fair market value-between $4,000 and $11,000 each year, plus assume liability for any accidents.

LCC said "This is unacceptable and unfair to neighbors and our kids."

LCC recently was pleased to announce that they have entered into an agreement with Seattle Parks and Recreation to maintain the site, similar to the agreement with DNR, in which the City will work with the neighborhood on continuing to maintain the Waterway, including plant maintenance, shoreline clean-up activities, and rebuilding the existing basketball court.

In a recent LCC newsletter to neighbors an update was published:

Thank you, Neighbors and Rep. Pollet —Basketball Court Project to Move Forward

For almost five years,  LCC has had a contract with the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to maintain, restore, and enhance Waterway No. 1, located at NE 35th St. and 43rd Avenue NE. The contract included resurfacing the 70-year-old crumbling basketball court. Neighbors generously contributed to pay the full cost of upgrading the court. In the past few months, DNR imposed added conditions on replacing the court—liability insurance and an annual lease fee ranging between $4,000 and $11,000. No fee has ever been imposed in the past and is contrary to state law.

LCC sought assistance from 46th district legislators and from neighbors. Everyone came through. Under the leadership of Representative Gerry Pollet, legislators worked with DNR to resolve the issues. In the meantime, 204 neighbors signed an online petition asking DNR to adhere to state law and waive the annual lease fee and liability insurance. Seventy-five neighbors signed a petition that was taken door to door. Many neighbors contacted the Commissioner of Public Lands, head of DNR, asking that the issues be resolved and that the project be allowed to move forward. These efforts made a difference.

LCC had a successful meeting with representatives from DNR and the Seattle Parks and Recreation Department. Seattle Parks has agreed to enter into an agreement with DNR, with a primary purpose of public access and park uses. The City will work with the community on the continued maintenance of the waterway, including plant maintenance, shoreline clean-up activities, and rebuilding the existing basketball court. Liability issues associated with use of the waterway will be under the City’s umbrella self-insurance provisions.

The basketball resurfacing project will move forward in the next month or two, and there will be no annual fee to the neighborhood. LCC will enter into an agreement with the Parks Department, similar to its former agreement with DNR, to maintain, restore, and enhance the waterway. LCC will continue to host work parties to implement the Waterway No. 1 Enhancement Project.

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