How much is a park worth?

The basic idea is this: Fire District 41 wants a new fire station. The current fire station is too far south and is unable to serve the northern reaches of the district with a reasonable response time. The original proposed location for the new fire station near Finn Hill Jr. High School turned out to be too expensive, costing an estimated $4.5 million to build. The new proposed location will only cost $3.5 million (or $3.8 with a new traffic light), but, unlike the site near the school, will require 1.8 acres of land from the local wooded park.

After attending the public meeting last night, it became clear that that the site near the school is already complete rejected because it can’t be afforded and that there is no backup site to the woodland park. The cost difference between these two sites is not trivial, but what’s $700,000 to this community? This community would easily jump at the opportunity to acquire additional acres to the park (they’ve done so in recent the past), so wouldn’t it be fair to say that preserving this parkland is worth that cost to the community?

The sad part about this is that from King County’s perspective (the folks in charge in of the parkland), they are getting compensated for the use of their land. What do they get in return? More park? Cash? Nope, a parking lot. No joke, the county felt that just compensation for giving up their land was a 10 space parking lot. It’s understandable that this is difficult for the community to swallow.