Friday, September 21, 2012

Seattle Port Commission Urges Delay
on Arena Action

In the wake of a tentative deal that could see a sports area built in an area near the waterfront, the Port of Seattle is urging public officials to delay taking action.

 In a statement released after the Council confirmed that it had come to an agreement to support the building of an arena in the industrial SoDo area, the Port Commission first reiterated its interest in working with the city to site a new arena. But the statement went on to urge the city council to “delay action while we review the proposal carefully.”

In particular, the commission took issue with a recent revision to the plan that includes a $40 million road improvement fund. The fund, which would be covered by tax revenues, would go toward the study and prioritization of area transportation improvements.

The city has also said that additional funds might be secured from the port and federal government.

“While the Port of Seattle is a stakeholder in statewide freight mobility and transportation efficiency, building roads and bridges is not core to our mission. Before the Council approves a plan that might rely on transportation funds from the Port of Seattle, please understand that through our 2020 plan of finance, the port does not now have any uncommitted dollars for new transportation projects.”

The Commission also took issue with an appearance that possible alternative sites were not reviewed closely enough, if at all.

“The Commission places a high priority on a full review of alternative sites before you make a commitment for the project. There are references to reviews of alternative sites, but it appears the MOU remains structured around the SoDo site.”

The Seattle City Council announced Sept. 11 that it had reached a tentative agreement with developer Chris Hansen to build a $490 million basketball and hockey arena. The Metropolitan King County Council, which initially approved the deal in July, is expected to consider the revised version of the deal, which includes the transportation fund, at either its Oct. 8 or Oct. 15 meetings.