"Murray to visit, discuss Wyckoff The state's senior senator will meet with city officials Thursday."
June 9, 2008 · Updated 3:58 PM
"The group working to turn the Wyckoff Superfund site into a public park hopes to recruit a key ally this week - Washington's senior senator, Patty Murray.The Democrat will visit the island Thursday to hear a presentation from the Wyckoff Acquisition Task Force, who hope federal money can be used to buy the property from a court-created trust.We plan to seek an appropriation to transfer the property into public ownership, Mayor Dwight Sutton said. We hope that Sen. Murray would assist with that. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Murray is in a position to do just that.Murray will hear what Sutton calls a focused presentation as to why the land should be put into public ownership. Beside Sutton, why the land should be put into public ownership. Beside Sutton, speakers will include Congressman Jay Inslee, Perry Barrett and Dave Shorett from the Bainbridge Island park district, Rob Purser from the Suquamish Tribe and Clarence Moriwaki from the island's Japanese memorial committee.The committee wants to build a memorial to the 1942 evacuation of the Island's Japanese-American population at the Taylor Avenue road end, which is the site of the former Eagledale dock, the site of the actual evacuation. While the public is welcome to attend the meeting, which begins at 3 p.m. Aug. 16 in the city council chambers, there will be no public participation, Sutton said.This is our opportunity to make a case to Sen. Murray that the site should be publicly owned, he said.The presentation is being coordinated by the Wyckoff Acquisition Task Force, a 12-member group Sutton appointed to spearhead efforts to make the site public.City Councilwoman Christine Nasser chairs the task force. Other members are Barrett, Shorett, Moriwaki, Harbor Commission chair Val Tollefson, realtor Ed Kushner, city planning staffer Libby Hudson, former National Park Service supervisor Neil Johannsen, lobbyist and local farmer Mike Ryherd and community representatives Judith Hartstone and Charles Schmid.The ideal arrangement, Nasser said, would be federal assistance to acquire the property, a city-state partnership to operate and maintain the site, but with local control. HistoryThe 50-acre site on the south entry to Eagle Harbor has been contaminated by spills and leaks from the wood-preserving operation that operated on the site for eight decades, closing in 1988.The federal Environmental Protection Agency is in the process of cleaning up the site to get rid of the creosote contamination. Cleanup costs may reach or exceed $100 million.Under the federal Superfund law, the EPA is charged with recovering cleanup costs from those who contributed to the mess. In this case, though, the only contributor was the Wyckoff company itself, renamed Pacific Sound Resources, whose only asset was the property .The property was put into a court-supervised trust. The trustee is directed to sell the property on the open market for fair-market value, with the proceeds going to reimburse EPA.Sutton said he hopes federal money can be found to pay market value for the property. While no formal appraisal has been done, estimates are that the value might be in the $10-$12 million range.In 1996, a committee looking at future uses of the site recommended multiple-use development, including an area for water-dependent industries such as a boat-haulout facility. But EPA's cleanup plan ruled out most of those uses.When another local committee revisited future uses for the property this year, it recommended turning the entire site into a park, based principally on the fact that sale of the property would return to EPA only a small fraction of the cleanup cost. Although cleanup work is expected to continue for up to 15 years on the point, which juts into Eagle Harbor, the western portion of the site is essentially clean now. There is some concern that the trustee could decide to sell that portion separately, lending some urgency to the efforts to secure public ownership.The acquisition task force is open to ideas besides federal money, Nasser said.We need to get federal money, change the terms of the trust, or come up with something we haven't thought of yet, she said. We're hoping for help from Sen. Murray or Congressman Inslee - they may have some ideas for us. "