Bellingham Mayor Seth Fleetwood announced today (April 7, 2020) the City of Bellingham has closed on the purchase of a beautiful 29-acre property located in the Bakerview/Telegraph corridor, north of I-5 and east of Meridian. This important City property acquisition was made with $2,310,000 in Greenway levy funds.
This fast-growing part of the City 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 northside, 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 Greenway Program legacy," Mayor 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 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, 2020, 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 park land, 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. These necessary improvements include daylighting of an underground creek and replacing a culvert under Bakerview to be fish-passable. City access to habitat improvement grants may help accomplish these improvements, and the parcel has valuable mitigation potential.
A public process to help design and plan the future of this acreage will involve multiple phases over many years. 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.