Central Subarea Planning meeting didn't go as planned in Lake Forest Park

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Meeting rooms at City Hall do not accommodate 200 people
Photo by Steven H. Robinson
By Donna Hawkey

The City of Lake Forest Park felt an unexpected big blow of wind at the October 11th Central Subarea Planning and first community wide input session.

Things just did not go as would be expected.

People started out in a general good mood, especially after being welcomed by the sight and smell of a bright red food truck serving wood fire pizza (some wondered though, but why not our own Mod Pizza?).

Inside city hall, it seems a large turnout was underestimated.

Almost 200 people showed up and many residents had to stand out in the hall and down the stairwell. The heat from so many people in the chamber room was overwhelming. It was uncomfortable, but residents were eager to hear what the presentation was about, so most were bearing with it, and some making jokes to lighten it all up before the meeting began.

Then the presentation happened without a real presenter.

There was no introduction speech with the overall concepts or goals, nor much in the way of useful and clear specifics either. There were plenty of other officials in the room, such as representatives from Sound Transit and LFP Town Center property owners, Merlone Geier. They were introduced by name and company, but did not address the residents with any substance. It left the audience questioning, 'who is who and what part do they play in all this, and why did they not present any information to us?'

The outside hired firm began with a series of new resident directed survey questions. From the first question, the confusion among the crowd was palpable. The questions were too open ended and were presented in the wrong tense. One resident wrote, “The presentation wasted valuable time and energy, especially at the beginning, leading us through some sort of ridiculous survey that had unclear statements and purpose.”

Now the uncomfortable citizens became increasingly frustrated and the contractor staff lost their patience, showing verbal disrespect to the entire community. “It seemed almost akin to an attempt at group brainwash with statements boiling down to things like ‘We should all collaborate, right,” said a resident.

There were some productive outcomes at the small group resident sessions lead by individual facilitators later in the evening. However, the Mayor and City Council were clearly dismayed by the overall outcome that night. They tried to arrange immediate meetings with the Sheridan Beach and Brookside communities, the two neighborhoods feeling most affected by any Central Subarea Plan, but the scheduling did not work out.

This is clearly an evolving process and we will keep you informed as it unfolds.

Mayor Jeff Johnson and Deputy Mayor Catherine Stanford issued the following statement in response to the October 11th meeting.

It is our sincere hope that, as we move beyond this first meeting, future workshops are conducted and received in a collaborative fashion. We want to know what your vision is for the Central Subarea. We want to make sure the outcome is what the community wants.



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