The Falcon | Volume 83, Issue 53
Sophomore Chris Smucker commented on the recent sale of land by SPU. The land currently houses tennis courts. Smucker said, “I think the courts were kind of useless, so it seemed like a good sale.”
Photo credit: ALEX HERBIG/The Falcon.
Property ‘useless,’ in ‘disrepair,’ students say
By CORY MINDERHOUT,
Published: May 30 2012
If Seattle Pacific’s sale of a two-acre tennis court and adjacent parking lot left some Queen Anne residents feeling jilted, students hardly took notice.
“I’ve been to the Queen Anne Bowl, but I’ve never actually been to the tennis courts,” said junior Nate Strong, Associated Students of Seattle Pacific’s vice president of finance.
“I don’t think students use the courts that much,” Strong said.
“I think the courts were kind of useless, so it seemed like a good sale,” sophomore Chris Smucker said.
What did catch Strong’s attention was an article about the courts’ sale that ran at the top of The Seattle Times’ website last week.
The article featured two Queen Anne residents, Denise Derr and Don Harper, who were upset that SPU sold the land for $9.5 million to a company that plans to build a 100-unit assisted-living center on the site.
“This is a significant loss of parkland for the entire city,” Derr told The Seattle Times. “SPU is not legally bound to offer citizens the opportunity to save these parcels, but as a Christian university, you would hope loving your neighbor includes your actual neighbors.”
The article garnered more than 250 reader comments and spent some time at the top of the website’s most read articles list.
“Some of the comments were hilarious and funny to read,” said Strong, who spent half an hour reposting several of the comments on his Facebook page.
“I saw that a majority of people thought it ridiculous that the story ran on the front page [of the website].”
Queen Anne residents said SPU didn’t notify them about the sale soon enough, even though the school isn’t legally required to.
Some residents wanted the Seattle Parks Department to buy the property.
Dr. Don Mortenson, senior vice president for business and planning, and Dave Church, assistant vice president for facility management, were both unavailable to be interviewed for this article by press time.
Dr. Mortenson told the Times SPU tried to notify residents about the sale. He also said the sale serves two purposes because First Free Methodist Church wanted to build a senior-living home.
Strong said the tennis courts and parking lot fall outside of SPU’s major institutional operating zone — meaning the school couldn’t build any new structures there.
“It think it was wise,” Strong said, referring to the sale. “Not many students knew about the courts.”
Smucker said he played on the tennis courts once last year but wouldn’t again because of their disrepair.
“The courts needed to be cleaned up, and there were tons of cracks everywhere,” Smucker said. “It was kind of dangerous. It wasn’t taken care of.”
Smucker said he doesn’t know of anyone else who’s used the tennis courts. If anyone were to play tennis, they should go to the three public courts that are part of David Rogers Park above the Queen Anne Bowl since they are newer and don’t have any cracks, he said.
Three days after the original article ran, Times reporter Bruce Ramsey wrote a blog post on The Seattle Times blog “Ed cetera” saying Queen Anne residents aren’t entitled to the tennis courts and shouldn’t expect taxpayers to pay for them.
The columnist also said he lives next to an assisted-living center and isn’t bothered by their presence.
“It doesn’t have a lot of traffic and the people in it don’t make a lot of noise,” the article said. “They’re too old to annoy the neighbors, and some of them are too frail to go outside by themselves.”
Strong echoed that sentiment.
“They might drive their cars slower than I’m used to,” Strong said, referring to assisted-living residents. “But that’s the only thing that makes me wary of them.”
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