Don’t tear down Fort Lawton

Posted on June 27th, 2017 by Sara


The following is a letter from a career military officer and Magnolia resident to the Seattle Public Schools:

The purpose of this communications is to provide Seattle Public Schools with specific information related to Harvey Hall, Leisy USAR Center and surrounding out-buildings, as a potential site for a new Seattle High School.

I am a retired Army Officer and Federal DOD Army Civilian Employee who worked in Harvey Hall and Leisy USAR Center between 1973 and 2000. I would like to convey to you as a former Army Officer Instructor; Enlisted Instructor; Finance Officer; Operations Officer; Administrator; Logistics Supply Officer and Facility Manager, my impression of these facilities as a potential site for a proposed high school.

During my twenty-seven years using these facilities, our Army Engineer staff and Facility Management Team spent hundreds of thousands of dollars for maintenance, repair and upgrading facilities on a annual basis.  Structural electric and communications were constantly upgraded with the latest technology including fiber optic cable installed throughout the facilities. Our federal budget provided us with sufficient funds to exceed all federal, state, county and city code requirements including environmental and HAZMAT. Over two dozen Engineer staff performed all aspects of planning and contract implementation.  We often used civilian contractors to perform highly technical building modifications, alterations, repairs, and special projects.

Facilities as of 2000, included updated classroom-ready areas, gym, cafeteria, conference rooms, vault, huge parking areas and multiple outbuildings for specialty education. Faculty lounge, counseling areas, library and other functions of a fully operational high school were all in place. Five separate parking lots provide ample room for staff and student parking.

From 2000 to 2017, I have no knowledge of vandalism or other similar destruction. However, these facilities, as of 2000, were impressive and would be a real asset to the Seattle School District meeting many of the criteria for infrastructure without the burden of large capital funding for buildings, property purchase, and renovation.

After listening to the Seattle Housing Authority on June 19 & 21 present their desire to provide homeless housing based on the Mayor’s vision, it seemed clear to many of us who live here that the Seattle Housing Authority has an intransigent, single-minded vision of building homeless housing, irrespective of the cost or effects to our community.

Secondly, the Seattle Housing Authority, while taking input from the community, is clearly unimpressed by the outpouring of support for a new High School at Fort Lawton.

Finally, the Seattle Housing Authority, Mayor and his Spouse in the Seattle Parks Department have an interest in selecting one option only for this site….and it isn’t a High School.

As a Seattle home owner, former elementary school teacher, taxpayer, army officer and federal employee, this is not how city government is supposed to be managed. When the community says, “We want a new High School for our sons and daughters in Queen Anne and Magnolia,” city employees should listen. We do not want a homeless center as part of an even larger Mayor’s vision of a “make-it-up-as-you-go along” agenda.

My bottom line is a request that you take a look at these former Army facilities and see for yourself this property is a turn-key, state-of-the-art complex that can support the Seattle School District. Having worked for nearly three decades in these buildings, I can assure you that a new Seattle High School could not find a nicer, more convenient location for our students.


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