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Picketers greet alumni

Seattle Pacific University alumni descended upon Casey Conference Center for an alumni weekend that was a tribute to C.S. Lewis.

What they didn’t expect was protesters.

While entering the SPU-owned conference center, alumni noticed about 20 picket-wielding citizens on hand to protest plans to expand the center into a nearby wooded area.

SPU wants to increase the number of beds at the conference center and make it more appealing for adults in an attempt to bring in more revenue.

The picketers were led by Whidbey Environmental Action Network which has been arguing for months that SPU’s plans threaten the ecologically significant woods.

Showing up at the alumni weekend is part of WEAN’s plan to inform SPU’s alumni and donors of its development intentions in hope of influencing potential donors.

Protesters spent the better part of the weekend at the entrances of the conference center but expressed disappointment in the number who attended the SPU event.

“I just wished there was more of their alumni attending,” said Steve Erickson, WEAN member.

Sue Hizon, coordinator for planning and development at SPU, said that it’s WEAN’s right to protest but she defended the university’s expansion plans.

“We’re still in the same position,” Hizon said, and highlighted the same points that Tim Martin, a Langley lawyer representing SPU, made when the Western Washington Growth Management Hearings board heard an appeal made by WEAN last month.

WEAN wants the hearings board to rescind the special review district zoning that allows the university to expand the property.

Hizon defended the plan and said that it preserves the bluff, the historical structures and most of the wooded area.

The hearings board is expected to render a decision Aug. 25.

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