The Operations Committee of the Seattle School Board met via video conference on February 4th to address the proposal to sell the development rights of the CHS Memorial Forest to the King County Parks Department (KCPD). Noel Treat, the attorney handling the case for Seattle Public Schools (SPS), was to offer the presentation and invited CHS Alumni Association’s Vice President John Barton (Class of ’54) to participate so he could answer questions about the letters of support if asked.
Mr. Barton was asked to comment after Mr. Treat spoke and briefly went over the alumni concerns over the survivability of the forest and said that selling the development rights to King County Parks was a great way of protecting the forest far into the future.
Before the meeting, Mr. Barton sent a series of emails to each school board member. Each email represented one of the military/patriotic organizations from which the Alumni Association received a letter of support for preserving the forest. Along with their letter of support, he included membership numbers of the respective organization for Washington State and King County. “The original intent was to dump a million letters of support on their desks, but that was difficult to do in a video-conference meeting,” said Mr. Barton.
Mr. Barton sent a second email to board members, that offered a brief history of the forest and the concerns of CHS alumni including:
- How the students worked for two years to save $300 to honor their fallen classmates.
- How Vice-Principal Imus took the $300 to a tax auction of logged-off timberland to bid on 131.52 acres.
- How no one bid against VP Imus when they heard the CHS students wanted to create a memorial forest.
- How the CHS students planted 10,000 trees on the logged-off land.
- How today, it’s a beautiful forest of Sitka Spruce, Douglas Fir, and Western Red Cedar, and is worth millions of dollars.
- How it was determined years ago that a high school cannot own property, so it was given to the school district as a perpetual memorial to . . “the Cleveland boys who lost their lives while serving in the United States armed forces.”
- How some people would sell the property just to get the money.
Barton then summarized the email by pointing out to prevent the property from being developed for any other use, the CHS Alumni proposes that the development rights of the property be sold to King County Parks as part of their conservation program.
Highlighted were the positive aspects of this proposal for all:
“We see this proposal as a WIN-WIN-WIN agreement. SPS retains ownership, KCPD expands their conservation program, and the CHS Alumni concerns for the longevity of the forest would be put to rest.”
A short discussion by the school board members followed. They mentioned the military and patriotic organizations that had provided letters of support, and they quoted Barton’s WIN-WIN-WIN statement above. It turns out that KCPD will pay $3.47 million for the development rights of the property if this agreement is accepted by both parties.
The board made a motion to submit the proposal to the full school board meeting and it passed unanimously.
The presentation of the CHSAA’s proposal to the full school board is scheduled for March 10th.