JWENATCHEE — At Wednesday’s court hearing on the fate of a controversial Leavenworth amusement park, there was one point Judge Travis Brandt wanted to be sure of.
“Your position is that 100 percent of the people that use the park are already going to be located in Leavenworth?” the Chelan County Superior Court judge asked lawyers for the proposed Leavenworth Adventure Park. “No one’s going to come to Leavenworth. There’s nobody living in Wenatchee, for example, that’s going to say, hey Mom, Dad, can go up to Leavenworth to ride on the toboggan?”
That question goes to the heart of opposition to the $6 million Adventure Park, which developers want to place on a rocky hillside at the west edge of Leavenworth. The park, on the drawing board since last year, would include a climbing wall, bungee trampoline and an “alpine coaster” — a mountainside toboggan track that’s popular in parts of Germany and Switzerland.
Opponents of the project, a civic group called Friends of Leavenworth, say it would mean more traffic, light, noise and parking disturbances than the city can bear. After a Leavenworth hearing examiner approved the needed permits for Phase 1 of the park, they challenged his decision in court.
“This town is built on this Bavarian theme,” said David Bricklin, Friends of Leavenworth’s attorney. “And if you start loading it up with projects that undermine that, you’re destroying the foundation of this town’s economy. So it’s not just bad aesthetics and bad environment, but it’s bad economics as well.”
The plaintiffs say the permit went through without proper assessments, including inadequate noise, traffic and environmental studies. The hearing examiner’s ruling found that more traffic was likely, but said there was no evidence the park would bring more tourists to Leavenworth. Developers’ attorney Duana Kolouskova said the ultimate impact of the Adventure Park will likely be less than what opponents fear.
“I would anticipate it is fair to say perhaps no significant traffic is going to be generated,” Kolouskova said. “This is not a Seattle Center type of park. This is not a large-volume, theme or amusement-type park.”
Brandt plans to take the appeal under advisement. A written ruling is still to come.