Mayor Lamb says Bothell can’t afford ‘Boy Scout property’

But leaders pledge their own money and promise backing of private effort to buy wooded acreage in Canyon Park

Along with other past and present city officials, Bothell Mayor Mark Lamb has indicated his support for the city gaining control of the so-called “Boy Scout property” of approximately 63 acres near the northern edge of the city.

Straddling the line between King and Snohomish counties and located roughly near Canyon Park Junior High, the several privately owned parcels are currently undeveloped and local conservationists long have sought to keep the land as it is.

“It’s a completely wooded area right in the city,” said Sandy Clement, one of a handful of residents who helped launch Help Our Woods (HOW), a grassroots group aimed at preserving the Boy Scout acreage.

The efforts of Clement and others may prove key. Lamb said while he likes the idea of keeping the property as is, he made it clear Bothell itself cannot afford to purchase the land.

“The challenge is it’s a big-ticket item even with land prices as they are now,” he said.

Bothell obtained a $200,000 King County conservation grant to put toward the purchase price, but that grant requires an equal amount of matching dollars.

According to Clement, City Councilman Patrick Ewing has promised to donate $1,000 out of his own pocket toward the purchase price. Again, according to Clement, so did former councilmember Sandy Guinn.

For his part, Lamb pledged $330. He came up with that amount after the city was presented with 600 or so names on a petition asking that Bothell purchase the property. Lamb said he divided the $200,000 the city would need to match the county grant by the number of names on the petition.

Lamb made his comments after numerous uniformed Boy Scouts appeared at a recent Bothell City Council session. Scouts also trooped around City Hall passing out fliers regarding the property question. Clement said she wants the area to continue as a spot where not only Boy Scouts go to learn about the outdoors, but also plenty of students from local schools.

She added there is lots to enjoy and study, including nine wetlands and seven streams. Several of the latter are fish bearing.

Clement stated there are three different ways to gain access to the property.

“It’s just a win-win,” she said in terms of the city buying the land.

Again, for his part, Lamb agreed, but pointed once more to the cost. He said that certainly the city is spending millions in rebuilding and expanding downtown Bothell, but argued that investment differs greatly from any investment in the scout property.

Firstly, Lamb said the downtown projects clearly fall into the category of economic development and are expected to create a monetary return to the city.

Lamb also noted that while rebuilding the Park at Bothell Landing is part of the overall plan for the downtown area, the Bothell Landing project is not fully funded. He argued using $200,000 for the Boy Scout property would leave the city with no money for park or open-space acquisition for years to come.

Lamb added that eventually the redevelopment of downtown should help support and pay for park and recreational improvements throughout Bothell.

According to Lamb and others, much of the Boy Scout property never can be developed primarily because of the presence of wetlands. Clement buys that argument to a certain point.

“If someone wants to wreck something, they can find a way to wreck it,” she said, adding that developers routinely pay mitigation fees to build on wetlands.

“There are always ways around the rules,” Clement contended.

Clement said her group is finalizing some fund-raising plans.

“It’s got some momentum,” she said of the effort to buy the property.

“But trying to raise money in this environment is difficult.”

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