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Port of Seattle to study North SeaTac Park, pushback from residents continues

The Port of Seattle owns the land, but SeaTac leases it and is looking at ways to save it for the community.

SEATAC, Wash. — The Port of Seattle is planning to conduct an inventory of 55 acres of forest in North SeaTac Park for the first time this month. 

The goal is to look at the recreational and environmental impacts of the park with a "fresh set of eyes" to help determine its future.

It's a big step from where the port and community members stood just two months ago when a proposal to turn 11 acres of parkland into an airport parking lot was submitted to the Federal Aviation Association (FAA) for environmental review.

Community activists said that was the step they needed to call, petition and write letters to the port in opposition to the development.

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In August, the Port of Seattle announced the parking lot was off the table and paused on further development until the inventory was complete. 

"Sometimes when you have something that's contentious, it gives you the opportunity to take a step back and think about where you're going. And that's actually what we did with this project," said Port of Seattle Commissioner Stephanie Bowman.

North SeaTac Park has become a special place for the community with its deep trails, forests and BMX track. 

"I think it really provides an opportunity for the whole park to be saved and more development around the park to be done in a more innovative way rather than just 'oh, here's some available land. Let's cut all these trees down,'" said community activist Noemie Maxwell. 

But the park isn't safe yet. 

The 55 acres that are part of the inventory are zoned for commercial development and owned by the Port of Seattle but leased to the city of SeaTac.

The port continues to stress plans to help meet the needs of a growing airport. 

"It gives us a baseline of what is in that park. Then, we as a port commission can make the decision about whether we intend for any other more commercial developments to happen," added Bowman. 

Maxwell, along with Deputy Mayor Peter Kwon, has plans in the works to buy the park back from the port.

It's unclear where that money would come from. 

Bowman said they would hear all solutions but stressed again nothing would happen until the inventory is complete.