Maple Valley City Council approves Summit Park master plan

Ball fields took a step forward Monday at the Maple Valley City Council meeting, but not unanimously.

The council voted 5-1 to approve a resolution adopting the Summit Park and ball fields master plan after considerable discussion about the Bonneville Power Administration 375-foot wide easement running diagonally across the park with 230 kilovolt power lines.

The council members all discussed the need for parks and ball fields in the area.

“We are way behind right now in parks,” Councilman Bill Allison said. “This is not just a council decision, it is a community decision and the community is behind this (plan).”

Deputy Mayor Victoria Laise Jonas stated at the June 7 City Council meeting she could not support the plan if the design allowed the power lines to cross ball fields and she raised the issue again at Monday’s meeting.

After discussion, Jonas remained the dissenting vote with councillors Linda Johnson, Layne Barnes, Dana Parnello, Allison and Mayor Noel Gerken voting yes.

Jonas said she could not support the plan because she believes there is a risk of “unsafe exposure” to the electric magnetic fields from the power lines.

Along with the 230 kv line, BPA has informed the city of plans to build a second 500 kv line the future.

“Studies I have read are inconclusive and indicate there may or may not be a risk,” Jonas said. “We have a choice to build or not to build under these power lines. I believe our community wants options.”

Jonas said she likes the master plan, but has an issue with the two soccer fields being built under the power lines.

“I want to vote yes, but in good conscience I can’t,” Jonas said.

Allison said his understanding of the scientific information on electric magnetic fields exposure risks is based on people living under the lines, rather than playing sports games for shorter periods of time.

Johnson said she felt Jonas was raising a “valid issue,” but it could be addressed in the next step when the city looks at placing a bond on the ballot to raise the funds for construction of the plan.

“It’s going to have to be a community effort,” Johnson said.

The council woman said her brother has a pacemaker and would not be able to go to the fields because of the medical device.

“But we can’t base the decision on my brother’s pacemaker,” Johnson said. “The people have to take responsibility for themselves and we need to move forward.”

Gerken said he believes the city and council has “done our due diligence.” The mayor said he believes the “body of science calls this safe. I think it is a great plan and I support the master plan.”

The council also passed a resolution authorizing the staff to apply for grant funding to the state Recreation and Conservation Office for up to $1 million.

The plan is to build the project in three phases at a total cost of about $17 million, including construction, management and engineering costs.

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