Opinion

Preserving open space in Bothell

The city of Bothell, in collaboration with King County, is making great strides in its efforts to preserve and protect local open spaces. The city has applied and received preliminary approval for county funds to purchase two open-space parcels:

• $200,000 for the Fries Family Property (locally known as the “Boy Scout” property), a multiple-parcel wooded hillside in north Bothell, located immediately west of Interstate 405, just south of the Snohomish County line.

• $305,000 for the two-acre Williams Property that runs along the Sammamish River Trail and the Sammamish Slough.

Conserving these properties will provide many benefits to Bothell. The preservation of the “Boy Scout” property will allow for wetland conservation and wildlife habitat protection, and continue to ensure a beautiful vista along I-405 as visitors enter the city limits. The purchase of the Williams Property will provide improved trail access, safety and recreation space on Bothell’s portion of the Sammamish River Trail.

To make these important acquisitions, the city is leveraging King County Conservation Futures funds. These funds allow jurisdictions throughout King County to purchase and protect open space lands. The Conservation Futures program is funded by a dedicated revenue stream supported by a voter-approved property tax levy, which, by law, can only be used to purchase open space or resource lands. These revenues cannot be used to support the $56 million shortfall in the county’s general fund.

I am pleased to report that Bothell has passed the first hurdle in this competitive annual award process. This year, there were a record 39 applications requesting $18 million in Conservation Futures funds for only $8.5 million in available funding.

Following a review of all the applications and extensive site visits, a citizen oversight committee made funding recommendations to the County Council and County Executive for consideration in the 2010 budget. Both of Bothell’s requests were recommended.

Specifically, the citizens committee’s recommendations included $200,000 for the “Boy Scout” property. This recommended award was in part thanks to strong local support. My office received numerous letters, e-mails and petitions from residents hoping to conserve this land, and a local citizen group did an excellent job documenting the wildlife species of this woodland and bringing its importance to the attention of Bothell and King County officials.

Additionally, the citizens committee recommended funding $305,000 for the Williams Property. This property will improve trail access and safety at a narrow intersection where the Sammamish River Trail crosses a bridge over the Sammamish Slough. This acquisition will also preserve a forested area within the city of Bothell’s Sammamish River Greenway, one of the most wooded and least-developed portions of the Sammamish River Trail.

The recommendations for these two projects are included in the Executive’s proposed 2010 budget that was sent to the King County Council Sept. 27. The funding will be finalized when the County Council adopts the budget in November.

As the council enters what I anticipate to be a challenging and difficult budget session, preserving these important properties will be a bright spot. I look forward to working with my colleagues to ensure that these properties maintain their funding and that we continue to protect open space here in King County.

King County Councilmember Bob Ferguson represents District One, which includes Bothell, Kenmore, Lake Forest Park, Shoreline, North Seattle and parts of Woodinville and unincorporated King County. He can be reached at bob.ferguson@kingcounty.gov or (206) 296-1001.

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