King County a step closer to potentially taking over Seattle’s City Hall Park

KING COUNTY, Wash. — King County is one step closer to potentially taking ownership of City Hall Park in Seattle.

On Wednesday afternoon, council members approved a motion asking the county executive to draft a plan to repurpose the space.

Council members voted on some very early legislation, deciding if they wanted to move forward with an acquisition.

City Hall Park currently has a gate surrounding it with “no trespassing” signs posted.

The park was shut down during the summer due to several assaults, shootings and a fatal stabbing.

The situation at the park had gotten so bad that a King County judge said that jurors were refusing to show up for jury duty because they did not feel safe.

In August, hundreds of people marched around the King County Courthouse, demanding changes in the conditions.

Changes did happen, as a sweep was done and the park was cleared of 65 people who were living there.

Around that same time, two county council members drafted legislation to start the process for the county to take over the land, removing ownership from the city of Seattle.

Below is what two of the council members had to say about the motion.

“The conversation is too centered around public safety and concern around one block,” said Joe McDemott, a King County council member. “Our responsibility is to provide public safety needs in unincorporated King County. Cities provide public safety in their own incorporated areas.”

“To not go forward with this motion, I think, is to turn our back on opportunities for the county to have direct responsibility and authority for what can be done with the park, rather than leave it in the hands of the city of Seattle, which has not done much at all for way too long,” said council member Jeanne Kohl-Welles.

Ultimately, the motion passed 7-2, but it does not mean the county will take responsibility for the land.

Now that the motion has been passed, King County Executive Dow Constantine will draft a report with ways to repurpose the space. After the report is drafted, it will then go to the council for review.

Even if it is approved, the question remains if the Seattle city council would agree to turn over the land.

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