Peter Rogoff, CEO of Sound Transit, promised better outreach after residents voiced complaints about the agency’s property acquisition process for the Lynnwood Link Extension during Thursday’s board meeting.
Half a dozen impacted residents from Shoreline urged the board to think about the human cost when displacing residents for the expansion of light rail. Many felt they were being left in the dark and attended the board meeting looking for more information after receiving a letter from Sound Transit indicating their properties were being considered for acquisition.
“We need a lot of information, like when, how soon we can get paid and try to find another place,” said Nancy Treibel, a Shoreline resident. “This came as a terrible shock for us.”
Others worried they would not be able to stay in Shoreline if they are forced to sell their homes to Sound Transit.
“We really need to be made whole again and we not quite sure how that is going to happen,” said Carol Ortiz, a Shoreline resident.
With the booming economy and rising value property values, Ortiz expressed concern about being able to afford a different home in the area if her property was acquired.
Eva Abad, also a Shoreline homeowner impacted by the expansion project, suggested using the Jackson Park Golf Course to temporarily stage construction equipment instead of acquiring properties with homes.
That way no families will be displaced, she added.
Rogoff apologized to residents and pledged to sit down with the homeowners impacted by the project.
“Obviously there needs to be better communication between the agency and the impacted homeowners,” Rogoff said.
Later in the meeting, the board approved the acquisition of 22 parcels the agency says is necessary for the for the Lynnwood Link Extension. The properties are located in Seattle, Shoreline and Mountlake Terrace.
According to Sound Transit documents, $123.8 million was authorized for right-of-way acquisition for the project, of which $53.4 million has already been pledged. The agency estimates the remaining $70.4 million is sufficient to purchase the 22 additional properties or easements needed.
At the August board meeting, the agency announced the project was $500 million over budget and completion of the project would be delayed by six months in an effort to limit those increases.
Also approved by the board Thursday was acquisitions of 51 properties for the Federal Way Link Extension. These properties are located in SeaTac, Des Moines, Kent and Federal Way.