The Bellingham City Council has completed a series of actions to purchase Chuckanut Ridge, approving a deal that positions the City to add the property to its Greenways portfolio. The transaction is set to close on Oct. 11, 2011.
This purchase, when complete, represents a key accomplishment in the course of nearly 20 years of debate about the fate of Chuckanut Ridge, adds significant recreation land and open space within Bellingham city limits, and provides an essential southside trail link.
The City Council voted unanimously on Aug. 15, 2011 to authorize the Mayor to enter into a purchase and sale agreement to purchase the property for $8.23 million from Washington Federal. Subsequent Council discussion and actions refined and clarified the financing for the property acquisition.
A budget ordinance (PDF) approved by the City Council on Sept. 26, 2011 provides money for the purchase from various park-related funds:
The Council is considering various strategies for repayment of the loan. The property itself serves as collateral for the loan; some portion of the property could be sold to repay the loan if other revenue sources cannot be found. Other options for loan repayment include proposing repayment funding in a future Greenways levy, soliciting grant and private funding, using other existing and future City funds – such as park impact fees and real estate excise taxes collected in the coming years, or selling other City-owned assets.
When Council took final action on Sept. 26 to approve funding the Chuckanut Ridge purchase, members also committed to seeking feedback from the community on loan repayment options as they refine a funding strategy.
Date Published: Sep 30, 2011