Story & Video by Scott Schaefer

At the Kent Chamber of Commerce Membership Luncheon on Thursday, May 2, Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff addressed concerns that the organization would use eminent domain to take over and demolish the Dick’s Drive-In and Lowe’s business center for a new Operations and Maintenance Facility (OMF).

Rogoff spoke to a group of around 25 local businesspeople, along with Mayor Dana Ralph, King County Councilmember and Sound Transit Board member Dave Upthegrove and others.

Transit operations must expand to meet the fast growth of the region, Rogoff said, and an OMF must be placed somewhere in the south end for the rail line’s expansion to Federal Way. Six sites are being considered, including the controversial idea of tearing down Dick’s and surrounding businesses.

Sound Transit OMF Dicks

A decision will be made this month by the board on which site to conduct a full Environmental Impact Statement, and councilmember Upthegrove made it clear that he is against targeting Dick’s.

“I think the site in Kent where Dick’s restaurant is located is not an appropriate site to move forward because it’s so close to the new light rail station that’s being built, and as was talked about Sound Transit is all about facilitating that development around the stations,” Upthegrove said. “The system works when you have high density transit oriented development around the stations. So to me it doesn’t make sense to build the OMF right next to a station where we want that kind of development, so I’ll be advocating with my fellow board members at our board meeting to narrow down that list of six sites so it does not include that particular site.”

Rogoff shared that Sound Transit has been showing local officials how OMFs work by inviting them to a tour at 2 a.m.  On one such recent tour, Mayor Ralph brought a bag of Dick’s burgers to share with him.

“We’re trying to find the least bad choice” among the potential sites, Rogoff said. He added that many Dick’s fans have shared their thoughts, and assured chamber guests that this is “not some vast vegan conspiracy.”

“Sound Transit is experiencing the most rapid transit expansion in the United States right now,” Rogoff said.

Watch the full 40-minute event below, which was broadcast live on our Facebook page (“Like” us here to get alerts for future live videos):

Read our previous coverage of this issue here.

Scott Schaefer

Founder/Publisher/Editor. Three-time National Emmy Award winning Writer (“Bill Nye the Science Guy”), Director, Producer, Journalist and more...