Future of Lincoln Park — but not necessarily its trees — before Port Angeles City Council tonight

By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — A revamped Lincoln Park Master Plan that could lead to renovation of one of the city’s largest parks will be considered for adoption tonight by the City Council.

The meeting is at 6 p.m. in the council chambers at City Hall, 321 E. Fifth St.

Public concerns over maintenance costs that mirrored concerns of city staff led to reconsideration in January.

The city Parks and Beautification Commission recommended approval of the plan in February.

The plan for the 147-acre park west of downtown is still subject to negotiations between the city and the Port of Port Angeles over removing tall fir trees that are blocking 1,300 feet of port-owned William R. Fairchild International Airport’s 6,347-foot main runway just west of the park.

In January, the city and Seattle-based HBB Landscape Architecture, which is the contracted designer for the master plan, came up with a design that incorporated trails, a clubhouse and restroom, two playgrounds, parking and improved lighting into the first phase of the project.

“The rephasing of Phase A not only placed the majority of the public’s wants into the phase, but it also reduced the cost from $9.8 million to $7.5 million,” city Parks and Recreation Director Corey Delikat said in a memo to the council for tonight’s meeting.

Tree removal and revegetation, estimated to cost $6.7 million, also was added to the first phase, making the total $14.2 million.

“This revised phase will also allow maintenance to [be] manageable for current city park staffing levels,” Delikat said.

“It is important to note that the Lincoln Park Master Plan was not changed in any way, but the phases were rearranged to meet the goals of the city and the public.”

City staff and port officials will negotiate on tree removal, revegetation of tree-removal areas and implementation of phases within the park master plan.

Trees that are removed would be replaced with lower-height trees and vegetation.

City Parks and Recreation Commission member Fowler Stratton was the lone dissenting vote when the advisory panel recommended approval of the plan.

He expressed concerns over the cost of first-phase improvements and if the city would have enough funding to upgrade the east side of the park.

The first phase focuses on the park entrance off Lauridsen Boulevard and includes upgrading the parking area and installing a new trail system and ballfields.

By approving the master plan, the council would not be approving the removal of trees, Delikat said Monday.

The plan contains three options: doing nothing, removing trees as needed as has been done in the past, and removing the problem trees and replacing them.

“The missing element is the [aerial navigation] easement and how much the easement is going to be,” Delikat said.

“The [Federal Aviation Administration] pays the port for that easement.”

The city “wants something in return” for removing trees for the benefit of the port-owned airport, Delikat said.

At a minimum, the city wants to be able to complete Phase A, he said.

“We will not make any decisions until funding is in place,” Delikat said.

“Until that’s done, I don’t think the council can make a decision one way or the other.”

Port Airport and Marina Manager Jerry Ludke said Monday that the FAA is “definitely on board” to fund the $6.7 million to mitigate the trees.

“It’s not guaranteed, but it’s high on their priority list,” Ludke said.

If the City Council approves the master plan, an environmental assessment would be conducted, which would be followed by the port, through the FAA, purchasing the easement from the city, Ludke said.

“Then the trees would be cut down,” he said.

“For any additional amount above $6.7 million, none of that has been decided on where the funding is going to come from for that.”

It would be unusual for the FAA to fund park improvements, Ludke said.

“They are not in the park-building business.”

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at paul.gottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: July 15. 2013 6:37PM
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