People who ride the Sounder commuter train from Puyallup won some much-needed station improvements Thursday, including increased parking, but the new amenities will come at the expense of Eagles Aerie No. 2308.
The Sound Transit Board of Directors voted unanimously to move ahead with a $60 million plan to build a new parking garage on the Eagles property, much to the chagrin of Aerie No. 2308 members who do not want to sell to the regional transit agency.
Board member Pat McCarthy, who is also Pierce County executive, told Eagles members who made the trip to Seattle for the meeting she understands their frustrations.
But McCarthy and board member Dave Enslow, the mayor of Sumner, assured the Eagles they would be treated fairly during upcoming negotiations.
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“We can thread this needle if we’re just a little patient,” McCarthy said.
Eagles members told the board before the vote they’re not so sure about that.
Sound Transit representatives have given conflicting statements about what the Eagles could expect in moving reimbursements and other associated costs, said Eagles member Robert Ainsworth, who met with Sound Transit officials nearly three years ago to begin talks about the planned garage.
“We were promised everything needed to accomplish a move,” Ainsworth told the board Thursday. “Since the first group, we haven’t had anyone say anything positive about making it work for the Eagles.”
Sound Transit project manager Don Billen told the board Thursday he would be coming back to them next month for authority to begin property acquisition negotiations with the Eagles.
That would allow the agency to have the Eagles property appraised, Billen said. Sound Transit also would pay for the Eagles to hire an independent appraiser, he said.
“Then, real negotiations can begin,” Billen said.
If the two parties cannot come to an agreement, Sound Transit could attempt to obtain the property through eminent domain.
Planned amenities include a 500-stall parking garage on the Eagles property, another 166 surface parking stalls, and bike and pedestrian improvements. A pedestrian bridge from the new garage over Fifth Street Northwest to the Sounder platform also would be built.
A pedestrian bridge over the BNSF tracks that bisect the Sounder station was not included in the project, however.
Most of the project would be paid for with funds from a 2008 Sound Transit ballot measure, which raised money through tax hikes for transit improvements across the Puget Sound region.
Sound Transit and Puyallup officials have said the Puyallup station is one of the most heavily used on the Sounder commuter train’s south line, and that increased parking was desperately needed at the downtown station.