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PUBLIC COMMENT OPPORTUNITY

City of Union Gap Fullbright Park Conversion and Replacement


PUBLIC COMMENT OPPORTUNITY The City of Union Gap is requesting approval from the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) and the National Park Service to convert 3.31 acres of natural dry parkland to transportation use and is inviting the public to comment on the options listed below or suggest other options. A conversion occurs when property interests are conveyed for non-public outdoor recreation. The conversion involves three separate parcels in the northerly limits of Fullbright Park (South Park Acquisition #74) that received a federal Land and Water Conservation Fund grant, for acquisition in 1974. State law requires that the converted property be replaced with property that is of reasonable equivalent usefulness and location and equal current market value to the converted property (WAC 286-13-260).

 An alternatives analysis was conducted by the City of Union Gap and their Consultant to determine logical replacement areas that provided the greatest recreational benefit from this conversion action.  Adjacent parcels located along the westerly and easterly boundaries of Fullbright Park were investigated and those areas associated with the City’s other three parks, Louden Park, Cahalan Park and the Youth Activities Park.

Fullbright Park areas were preferred over the other areas due the recreational opportunities such as bike paths, trailheads and nature pathway enhancements of the Fullbright park areas. The Fullbright parcels are capable of being increased or decreased in size accordingly as needed. The following are the descriptions of these alternatives.

Option 1 (Preferred)

The preferred proposed replacement properties adjoin the existing park boundaries on the west and east and are accessible by auto, foot and/or bike.  The replacement properties consist of Ahtanum Creek shoreline and riparian grasses; trees, and wildlife along Ahtanum Creek. Natural lands such as these proposed replacement acres with waterways and wildlife habitat are much more likely to connect people with nature and encourage advocates for conservation.

Another parcel adjacent to the east park boundary is approximately 2.2 acres that used to be a railroad bed. The topography of this parcel is higher than the surrounding Fullbright Park creating a natural raised  flat area, perfect site for a pedestrian pathway which is elevated above the rest of the park giving its users another visual prospective of the area and quality of recreational value. This site could serve as an extension of Wide Hollow Creek Pathway connecting the proposed Yakima Nation, Heritage Trail.

Please see the Fullbright Park Land Conversion Alternative Areas exhibit shown on this website.

Option 2

This alternative would consider replacement properties adjacent to one of the other three City parks, Loudon, Cahalan, and/or the Youth Activities Park.

Loudon Park

The property for this neighborhood park, located at the corner of 4th Street and Pine Street, was acquired in 1945 and was subsequently developed through the efforts of the Union Gap Betterment Association and the generosity of the Loudon Family.  Neighboring residents border all sides of Loudon Park prohibiting an expansion to this parks boundary’s without relocation.

Cahalan Park

This 6.6-acre park located on northwest corner of the intersection of E. Washington Avenue and South 18th Street is bordered on the east and west sides by major collector roads. Adjacent to the North side is Yakima School District classrooms and commercial development on the west, Park expansion is not possible without relocation.

Ahtanum Youth Activities Park

A regional facility now owned and maintained by the City of Union Gap. Located on Ahtanum Road, this 75-acre park is well suited to accommodate large group activities and more active forms of recreation. Large open spaces, indoor and outdoor facilities, and dispersed parking enable a wide range of activities to occur simultaneously. The soccer fields can support league and tournament play, and the two rental buildings, the activities building and the barn, support a variety of events such as arts and crafts shows.  This Park currently has room to expand.

The Union Gap Park Board updates the City’s 2007 Parks and Recreation Plan every 7 years and includes Goals and Policies consistent with the City’s Comprehensive Plan. This Plan begins with the City’s Parks and Recreation Goals and Policies. The Park Board during its evaluation of the proposed conversion area (Option 1) and a De Minmis Impact determination took into consideration the Plan’s Goals and Policies; these consisted of practical alternatives for replacement areas and capital improvements.

Results of a community Park Survey mailed out to the residences of Union Gap, indicate our residents are satisfied with their parks, with more walking, biking and hiking amenities desired. With conversion of park land, priority of contiguous land is recommended by the National Park Service, thus further support of the Option 1 Fullbright expansion.  

The conversion is for the Regional Beltway Connector, sponsored by Union Gap and the Federal Highway Administration. The Regional Beltway Connector is located in Central Washington’s Yakima Valley within the City of Union Gap. This major infrastructure project is part of an overall regional plan to establish a primary route from Interstate 82/US 97 South Union Gap to Ahtanum Road. The Regional Beltway will serve as the area’s east/west corridor, relieving traffic congestion on Main Street and local roads, increasing safety in the school zones, connecting trails to parks and promoting economic growth and job creation for this rural area of Eastern Washington.

The Regional Beltway Connector requires use of undeveloped parkland in the northeast corner of park boundary, limiting any impacts to park recreational functions or attributes.

The proposed project and parkland conversion was discussed in public forums at the following;

  • Union Gap Park Board – July 2017
  • Special City Council Meeting – August 2017
  • Washington State Fair, Public information Booth – Sept. / Oct. 2017
  • Youth Activities Park, Regional Beltway Public Open house – February 2018
  • Union Gap School, WSDOT South Union Gap Interchange Improvements Public Open house – April 2018

The proposed conversion area has little recreational value due to its remote location to the main part of the park, overhead high power electrical lines and its proximity to the busy BNSF railroad tracks. The area consists of dryland grass, no irrigation, no trees or landscaping.

The preferred replacement (Option 1) provides increased recreational usefulness to the park as it replaces arid, unused areas within the north corner of the Fullbright Park. The monetary land value of the areas identified as potential replacement property exceeds the value of the of the conversion area.

Questions and written comments on the conversion and proposed replacement will be accepted through July 13, 2020. Email comments to Jenny.Valle@uniongapwa.gov, or mail to Union Gap Parks Dept., Attn: Jenny Valle, P. O. Box 3008, Union Gap, WA 98903.  Call (509) 248-0432 with any questions.