City To Consider Fate Of Sand Point Base -- Navy Should Get Final Plan For Property In A Few Months

The next 10 days are crucial ones for the future of Seattle's Sand Point Naval Station.

During that time, members of the Seattle City Council will be meeting individually - and privately - with representatives of the city's Planning Department to review options for what to do with the 151-acre base when the Navy moves out at the end of 1995.

Some council members wanted to hold that discussion yesterday at an open meeting, but Parks Committee Chairwoman Cheryl Chow postponed it until the end of the month.

Chow said she cut off discussion in order to leave time for other topics on her committee agenda. Later, she said the private briefings would save time, allowing Mayor Norm Rice to present the full council with his preferred plan at the Aug. 30 council meeting.

The city wants to have its plans finalized and in the Navy's hands by the end of November, she said. That way, Navy brass will know what the city wants when they decide which federal agencies get slices of the pie when the station's land and buildings are divvied up.

Federal agencies have priority over local interests in the base-closure process.

Currently, city officials and representatives of the neighborhoods surrounding the base next to Magnuson Park are holding their breath waiting to see what the Navy will do with a request by the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe for almost 85 acres of the land - primarily the developed area along Sand Point Way Northeast.

One of the concerns is whether the Muckleshoots would be bound to follow through on their expressed intentions to open a school on the property, or whether they could do something else. Some neighborhood residents fear the tribe may be eyeing the property for a casino.

The Muckleshoots' plan "does not include any kind of gaming facility," said Jeff Watkins, an economic-development specialist for the tribe.

The Muckleshoots propose opening a national Native American vocational school and community college with 3,500 students, 500 living on the site.

The Muckleshoots have made their claim based on the tribe's "usual and accustomed fishing places" as recognized in treaties dating back to the 1850s. Originally, they'd requested the whole Sand Point property but scaled back their request after "we had learned of the other people's needs," Watkins said. Their scaled-back request leaves the way clear for expansion of Magnuson Park into most of the Navy base's undeveloped areas.

Expansion of the park is the city's top goal, one shared with the Sand Point Community Liaison Committee, which after two years of work produced its own plan for reuse of the land earlier this summer. The community plan conflicts with the Muckleshoots'; it calls for up to 250 units of low-income housing plus a community center, a gymnasium and areas for the arts of all kinds.

Seattle's United Indians of All Tribes Foundation also has asked for land and buildings for a school. Theirs would be from kindergarten through community college but have fewer students.

And the Seattle-King County Coalition for the Homeless is making plans for 199 units of low-income housing. The federal McKinney Act gives preference to such programs in surplus property disposal.

The Muckelshoots' plan also includes a marina for about 30 fishing boats - open to the public most of the year - at the north end of the site. Some of Sand Point's larger buildings would be used for light industries employing Native Americans.

All of those requests and others are what Rice has to resolve to produce a politically acceptable plan in just 10 days.

Some hints at what the plan might contain were gleaned from interviews and yesterday's meeting.

-- Major expansion of Magnuson Park. That's what everyone agrees on.

-- Some part of the area likely will be offered to the Muckleshoots, in an effort to craft a compromise. Unknown: how much impact this will have on the community plans for arts and recreational facilities.

-- There likely will be transitional housing for the homeless. Unknown: whether Rice would include three officers' houses which the coalition wants to use to house young people.

-- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration facility likely will be expanded into 10 acres immediately west of its present offices. In exchange, the agency would surplus 13 acres west of the Magnuson Park playing fields for park expansion.

-- The federal Fish and Wildlife offices likely will stay on 10 acres at the south edge of the site adjacent to the expanded Magnuson Park.

-- The Navy commissary, which some have wanted as a tennis center, likely will be torn down because city officials say it's sinking into the boggy land it was built on.

-- University of Washington married-student housing likely will be built between Northeast 64th and 65th streets adjacent to the Magnuson Park entrance off Sand Point Way Northeast. Rice is also likely to include plans for other mixed-income housing, despite the opposition of the citizens committee and nearby residents.

Much of the land can be transferred to the city free of charge because of the public benefit involved. Other parts of the property, particularly the built-up areas, the Navy will have to sell at fair market value, said Bonnie Snedeker, assistant director of the planning department. She said the price could range from $5 million to $20 million.