Special needs students hope to derail Sound Transit expansion

BELLEVUE, Wash. -- A huge light-rail expansion on the Eastside has hundreds of parents taking on Sound Transit, saying their much-needed therapy clinic will be forced out of business.

A team of therapists has made all the difference for Heidi Dawson and her children, but she's worried MOSAIC Children's Therapy Clinic may be forced to shut down. Dawson said that could undo the progress her son Patrick has made.

"Having this place not here where he's comfortable, I don't even want to think about it," she said. "It's going to set him back at school, here, at home."

Three of Dawson's children attend the Bellevue clinic but the special needs therapists are in a space that Sound Transit wants turn into a light-rail maintenance yard.

"When we moved here we chose this site for a lot of reasons," said Andrea Duffield, the president of the clinic.

Duffield said they installed padded floors and unique equipment in their facility and outfitting a new site would be too expensive.

"We would probably have to narrow down services from what we're doing to be able to afford to weather that storm," she said.

Sound Transit is looking at clearing out all the businesses along a section of Highway 520 to make way for light rail facilities, but other locations are under consideration and the agency is still open to feedback.

"We're very early in the process of looking at these sites and this is the time where we want to hear from people about their issues," said Sound Transit spokesperson Bruce Gray.

The transit agency said it is responding to voter demand for more light rail on the Eastside, and trains and equipment need to be stored somewhere. Sound Transit is willing to pay all moving expenses, but sets a $50,000 limit on retrofitting the space for incoming tenants.

Workers at the children's clinic said what they have now in Bellevue can't be easily duplicated.

While public comment ends June 23, a preferred site for the maintenance yard won't be identified until this summer.. and it will be sometime next year before any of this is finalized.