Outdoors

Greenways Legacy

City buys 29 acres for a northside park

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Good news for Earth Day.

The City of Bellingham has closed on the purchase of a beautiful 29-acre property in the city’s north end. Located near the Bakerview/Telegraph road corridor, this important connective parcel was completed using $2.31 million in funds from the voter-approved Greenways levy.

The city’s north side has been a high priority for acquisition of land for a new neighborhood park and public trails for several years. This particular property is located along two arterials on the north side, providing critical connectivity to existing and future trails and nearby park property, as well as ample area for a park and wooded trail.

“Protecting valuable habitat, improving environmental features, securing space for a future park and completing trail connections make this an ideal addition to the Greenways program legacy,” Mayor Seth Fleetwood said. “With most of our attention now directed toward COVID-19 emergency response, we are pleased to be able to move this important acquisition forward,” he added.

The Greenways program, now in its third generation as a voter-approved levy for parks and open space acquisitions, holds a special significance to Fleetwood, who has been a leader in each of the Greenways efforts.

The adopted 2019/2020 budget included $3 million in Greenway levy funds for park land acquisition. The Bellingham City Council approved the purchase at the March 9, City Council meeting.

“The acquisition of this wonderful property through our Greenway Program furthers Bellingham’s commitment to developing our park system and preserving green space for our northern neighborhoods,” Council Member Lisa Anderson, who chairs the Parks and Recreation Committee, said. “This purchase will allow us to daylight a portion of a creek, preserve land and habitat within the watershed, create trail connections, and add a neighborhood park for a growing residential area.”

This purchase accomplishes goals in the recently updated Parks, Recreation and Open Space Plan, which notes the need for more parkland, open space and trails in this area. It also furthers climate action goals of carbon sequestration and habitat preservation by preserving a large, intact forest.

The 29-acre parcel features about 9 acres of cleared hayfields bisected by a creek, and 20 acres of mature forest and wetlands.

The sellers’ family owned two former businesses, Clark’s Bakerview Nursery adjacent to the purchased property, and Clark’s Feed and Seed downtown. The sellers are enthusiastic about the property becoming a public park asset that fulfills community vision and goals.

Multiple developers pursued projects on the site, which has been for sale for several years.

Significant environmental constraints and expensive infrastructure improvements made other private projects fall through, according to a city press relase. These necessary improvements include daylighting of an underground creek and replacing a culvert under Bakerview Road for fish restoration. City access to habitat improvement grants may help assist these improvements.
“A public process to help design and plan the future of this acreage will involve multiple phases over many years,” Nicole Oliver, the interim director of city Parks & Recreation, said. “For now, the property becomes part of the legacy Greenway program acquisitions, and parks staff will begin to maintain it and start to plan for future improvements.”

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