What will our grandchildren say when we tell them we sold the heart of Saint Edward State Park to a private developer for a hotel in the old seminary building?

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FROM the “rat-a-tat-tat-tat” of the pileated woodpecker drilling for food high up in the red alder snag to the squeals of children’s laughter coming from the playground. The symphony of sounds of Saint Edward State Park delights visitors as they explore by foot and wheel the many trails that traverse the 316 acres of forests nestled along the northeastern shore of Lake Washington. The park is a precious urban jewel.

And, right now, this jewel is in great peril. The peace, tranquillity and recreation that Saint Edward State Park provides our growing population is in danger of being sold to a private developer wanting to open a hotel in the middle of this public wilderness sanctuary. How will the 24/7 presence of hotel guests and the relentless hum of cars coming to and from the hotel impact the health, beauty and music of this irreplaceable public park?

What will our grandchildren say when we tell them that the citizens of Washington state once owned all of Saint Edward State Park but in 2016 sold its heart to a private developer so they could build a hotel in the old seminary building?

Colleen Ponto leads the Saint Edward Environmental Learning Center — an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization that offers free environmental education classes to children and families in the park each summer.
Colleen Ponto leads the Saint Edward Environmental Learning Center — an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization that offers free environmental education classes to children and families in the park each summer.

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I imagine them saying, “What were you thinking?” I imagine them feeling they were once again shortchanged, suffering the negative consequences of a shortsighted decision. Sadly, we are again on the verge of being seduced by a quick fix, an alternative driven by short-term economic motives rather than inspired by long-term, visionary thinking.

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Selling the heart of Saint Edward State Park is wrong. What is being marketed as a “land exchange” (swapping a 9.77-acre inaccessible and steep parcel on the edge of the park for the 4.99 acres of buildings and flat open space in the heart of the park) is nothing more than a disguise for selling the core of the park. Alternatives that don’t compromise the park do exist.

I urge all who are interested in Saint Edward State Park and the future of public wild places to attend two upcoming public meetings. Your voice is needed, urgently.

Saint Edward State Park is a public wild sanctuary, a place to quiet our minds, awaken our senses and delight in the music of the natural world. Let’s keep it that way. All of it, forever.