A boundary dispute lands in the courts, at last | Editorial

It’s unfortunate that the dispute between the Rosser family and the Vashon Park District is heading to court. Only a few months ago, it appeared, a settlement was nearly at hand, thanks to the efforts of longtime Islander Ray Aspiri, who stepped in to negotiate.

But at the same time, there’s some hope buried in this piece of news: Perhaps soon, this protracted issue will be put to rest.

The park district’s effort to develop the 10 acres it leases from the school district into a new suite of ballfields has not been easy. Fundraising has gone slowly. The park district made some mistakes in its permitting. Neighbors have been frustrated by this summer’s work schedule, which had crews putting in long hours and disrupting neighbors’ lives.

But the agency has pressed on, in large part because it sees the project as an important fulfillment of its mission — to provide Islanders with the field space they need to run, play and recreate. The demand for field space on Vashon is great. By completing this project — and the park district is well on its way — the Island will have more space for soccer, baseball, football and lacrosse, all of them activities with strong and spirited constituencies.

Enter the Rossers, with a storyline that at first blush seems compelling. An Island family with deep roots, they say they’re being steamrolled by a government agency that cares only about its project and nothing about their property rights.

The trouble is, they have no documents that support their claim, as far as The Beachcomber can tell. What’s more, that “government” they complain of is not unlike them — a group of passionate people with deep roots on the Island.

The Beachcomber has spent hours talking to the Rossers about their concerns, looking at documents and trying to understand their grievances. In all honesty, we can’t make sense of their contention. It’s hard to get through their flood of words and depth of emotion to simple, straightforward facts.

At the same time, the newspaper doesn’t have a position on the merits of their claim, nor does it have a stake in the outcome. As journalists, we’ve tried only to ferret out the facts.

Unfortunately, truth has proved elusive. And the dispute has gone on long enough. Legal action is rarely preferred, and in this instance, it will cost taxpayers and place an additional emotional and financial toll on the Rossers. But at this point, after three years of wrangling and heartache on both sides, the matter belongs with a judge, who can look at the issue dispassionately and legalistically and make a decision based on facts.

The legal matter now under way is something called “quieting” a title. Indeed, Vashon needs this issue “quieted,” so that everyone — from the Rossers to the park district — can move on.


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