Walker Street property not available for park, say owners


Proposed Walker Street Park site

The Walker Street Park prospects may not be so promising after all.

As previously reported here, the Beacon Ridge Improvement Community (BRIC) applied for a grant through the Parks and Green Spaces Levy Opportunity Fund, to turn a block at 17th Avenue South and South Walker Street into a neighborhood “pocket park” and orchard. There is only one house on the block, owned by Joseph Fasano and his wife.

The Fasano family, however, is not interested in selling. A letter sent by Joseph Fasano’s son Mark Fasano to BRIC and to the Beacon Hill Blog on Monday states flatly: “The property is not currently for sale nor do you have any permission to begin moving forward on any project regarding this property. Our family has occupied this property for over 71 years and plan to continue residing at this property for generations to come.” The letter also says that the family has obtained legal representation, and asks that all submissions and funding requests for the project be retracted immediately.

Mark Fasano tells us that the family’s roots on Beacon Hill are very deep, and the Walker Street property has starred in a lot of memories. “I grew up in the house and on this property, so all of my childhood memories revolved around the house and playing in the woods along with my two brothers. My oldest brother lives on the other side of the cul-de-sac. My father has lived there since he was four, so all of his childhood is there as well. The home has always been the gathering place for all holidays and family functions.” The Fasanos want to keep the property in family hands.

According to Fasano, the owners were never formally contacted to discuss the sale of the property. “My father was out walking when a neighbor stopped to talk, and in that conversation among other topics he said ‘You should put a park here. What do you think about that idea?’ My father replied in jest, as he thought he was joking, ‘that would be interesting but I don’t think my wife would approve.’ He was just talking to a neighbor having small talk conversations. He never in a million years thought he was trying to get information to get something started like this.” The family did not find out about the project, says Fasano, until a friend emailed to tell them about the May 28 post in the BHB.

If the Fasanos aren’t interested in selling, the Walker Street park is not likely to happen. The park proposal acknowledges that the property is owned by Joseph Fasano, and that acquisition would depend on agreement with the owner; if the owner does not want to sell, the property is unavailable for the project.

This may change the fortunes of the Beacon Hill Central Park project, which was scored highly in the Opportunity Fund project assessment process, but was ranked lower than the Walker Street Park proposal.

(We contacted BRIC for comments on the situation but were unable to get a response in time for this story. We hope to have a follow-up with more information soon.)

14 thoughts on “Walker Street property not available for park, say owners”

  1. The reaction seems a bit overwrought to me: It’s is an offer to purchase, not a condemnation or taking of the land. All they have to say is yes or no, and they surely don’t need a lawyer for that (although that never stopped a lawyer, LOL). Maybe the parks department can explain it to him better.

    But it’s ultimately that actual property owner’s decision, isn’t it? I’ll wait to hear what Mr. and Mrs. Fasano have to say. I think it would be a wonderful way to pay tribute to the family’s legacy and preserve the greenbelt. It really is a beautiful plot of land, and it would be a shame to see it developed.

  2. “I grew up in the house and on this property, so all of my childhood memories revolved around the house and playing in the woods along with my two brothers. My oldest brother lives on the other side of the cul-de-sac. My father has lived there since he was four, so all of his childhood is there as well. The home has always been the gathering place for all holidays and family functions.”

    Well, times change. Maybe lots of neighborhood kids could get to play in the woods, too, if it were developed into a nice park with the Fasano name on it.

  3. I had thought that more extensive communication had been made with the property owners, and that part of the lot may be made available. I get the feeling that there is more going on here than we will ever know. Joe Fasano is listed as the owner of these properties, not his son Mark who wrote the letter.

    Is this same situation going to repeat itself if the central park project is selected? Are the property owners on the station block on board with selling out to Parks?

  4. Hello –

    We are the owners of the property and have been for 71 + years. We would have really liked to have been included in any discussions so we would have had the opportunity to “say no”, as we have had no contact with BRIC at all. One communication with us about the proposal would have put an end to this, so BRIC could re-focus their efforts to a viable project. We hired legal representation only because it looks like this process has been going on for several months, again without one word to us. We emailed BRIC, members of BRIC, and to date received no response.

    The property has been the same for the 71+ years and we have been very good stewards. We have no plans to develop any of it.

    Regards,

    Joe and Peggy Fasano

  5. While I understand the desire for new parks, I’m a bit surprised by the tone of some of the responses here and on the previous blog entry. I think it’s unfair to accuse the Fasanos of being selfish for not wanting to sell their land or propose there “is more going on here that we will ever know” just because Joe’s son spoke for him in the letter.

    The fact of the matter is that it’s their land, and if they don’t want to sell or develop it, that’s their right and everyone should respect it. I know that if I found out through this blog that my neighbors where trying to turn my land into a park without even consulting me, I’d be offended and defensive. And, I’d probably contact my lawyer.

  6. Shame on the BRIC for having the gall to move forward and put so much effort into something that they hadn’t even spoken to the property owner about.

    And shame on people like RAMONA, who look at this proposal with some sense of greedy entitlement. I’m really offended by your comment. This is a family who has worked long and hard to build something for the family (the american dream), only to be looked on with derision when they don’t want to give it to you.

    Tyler’s right, it’s their land. And with the monkeying that’s gone on with the 4th ammendment in the past few decades, I don’t blame them a bit for hiring an attorney. I’d do the same.

  7. I couldn’t have said it any better than Dr. Ed. That land is a treasure for their family, and they should hold on as tight as they can. We have one of the best park systems in the country, but as anyone reads the paper knows, we are having trouble paying for and maintaining what we already have.

  8. “My father was out walking when a neighbor stopped to talk, and in that conversation among other topics he said ‘You should put a park here. What do you think about that idea?’” Looks like someone from BRIC did in fact initiate a conversation about the proposal with the property owner.

  9. Dear Dr. Ed: I said the park would have the Fasano name on it, a tribute to their memories and their stewardship of the land over all these decades.

  10. Dear RAMONA: Times haven’t changed so much that private property can become public property by slapping on the name of the people you took it from. It doesn’t belong to you.

  11. Mapp: Did the BRIC representative identify himself as such? Did BRIC ever make clear to the current resident the fact that they were moving forward with a proposal to the Parks Department? Was the current resident even invited to any of the meetings to discuss the possibility?

    The answer to all of the above is no.

    I must say, the BRIC tactics are well thought out. They show up anonymously as “a neighbor” with an offhand question. They report back to BRIC that “They’re open to the idea – it’s a go!”. A proposal is written and submitted to the government. The government responds favorably to the proposal. It gets announced in the local media that the “prospects are promising” for creating a park in the neighborhood.

    All this happens without real input, notification and cooperation of the owner and resident of the property.

    Finally the owner finds out about the ongoing project by accident (not BRIC), and makes clear that they aren’t interested. Suddenly, they’re the bad guy who’s taken something away from the neighborhood. Way to go, BRIC. You’re good at coercion and character assassination.

    How many other elderly residents have you set up and intimidated?

    Oh, and thanks for wasting my tax dollars that the Parks Department spent reviewing the proposal. I hear they are doing quite well these days, and can afford it.

  12. I so agree with Dr. Ed, Stu and Tyler. It really does take a lot of gall to go through the legal/funding motions in the first place, then to criticize the owners for getting just a wee bit upset with the lack of communicationa. It’s wonderful they have a long-held piece of Beacon Hill. Hope it’s theirs for many generations to come.

  13. Yikes! Some of these comments are a bit much. I haven’t seen this much teabagging since I moved back from Key West :-)

    This process has been around since 2008, when it was APPROVED BY THE VOTERS. It’s been a success in many instances throughout Seattle, so everybody just needs to calm down and unclench. There’s no conspiracy, no drama – just the process as approved by the voters.

    The owners don’t want to sell, and I say good for them! Case closed. Now that I know where it is, I will be watching that land, and expecting it to stay just as it is, in the same family’s ownership, for generations to come, as has been promised here.

  14. Let’s chalk it up as a miscommunication and moved on. Though what this leaves us with is no opportunity fund $ for Beacon Hill. The next highest ranked project is Andrea’s central park idea. Let’s stop flaming here and get behind that before the mayor puts his parking lots around the light rail station!

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