UPDATED: Mayor reverses on Wood Creek property surplus
EVERETT — Selling the Wood Creek forest near the Valley View neighborhood is off the table for the time being.
Mayor Cassie Franklin announced at last week’s City Council meeting that she directed her city staff to remove the property off of the city's potential surplus list for the time being. The change was in response to public outcry after the city received numerous comments.
The city will look again in the future at this property, and will engage neighbors to discuss the idea, the mayor said.
An appraiser valued the forest land at $3 million.
It leaves four properties on the potential surplus list, including the historic Culmback Building.
Neighbors to Wood Creek were affronted by the idea the natural area next door might be sold. They fear puts it at risk of being redeveloped into residential housing. They also are concerned removing the natural buffer could destabilize the land along the bluff.
More to this story will be in the June 3 Tribune
EVERETT — Should a watershed woodland of almost 100 acres be sold off as surplus land by the city?
Residents in the Eastmont and Valley View neighborhoods nestled above Wood Creek hope not.
They don’t want the 92 acres to potentially fall to residential development. A sign on Panaview Drive gives a plot map indicating that the site could hold a small subdivision if it is zoned residential, a neighbor reported.
Development underneath them would weaken the already water-saturated hill, and clearcutting would ruin the greenbelt that attracted neighbors to move there. Valley View is the neighborhood where a line of houses were red-tagged as a landslide risk around 2013.
Also in the city’s batch of surplus sites is the historic Culmback Building on Colby Avenue.
The City Council is scheduled to hold two public hearings: One on Wednesday, May 27 at 12:30 p.m. and another Wednesday, June 3 online starting at 6:30 p.m. To sign in to comment, when the meeting starts call 425-616-3920 and use conference ID 737 277 525 (then
press #). People can write comments to email@example.com
COVID-19 changed how council meetings are run, and the change postponed a public hearing scheduled in April to authorize the surplus property list.
People who are interested in the issue are against having the city take comments just by phone. Some are asking the city to hold off on a vote until a public hearing can be done in person, in part to ensure the council can see how many neighbors are concerned all in one room.
Neighbors report the greenbelt has deer, salmon, birds and a bear.
“The citizens of this neighborhood have treasured these woods for more than 50 years,” and act as caretakers for the forest, resident Tim Long wrote in an email.
Losing this greenspace would be “devastating,” resident Lois Bell wrote in an email to council.
Neighbors suggest the forest be converted into a nature preserve.
The Wood Creek site is owned by the city water system. An appraiser valued the forest land at $3 million.
Neighbors were sold homes on the understanding that the watershed was permanent, resident Michael Wright said.
The Culmback, a mid-height brick edifice from the 1920s, sits midblock at 3015 Colby Ave. Its appraisal value is still to be determined. In 1988, the Culmback joined the city’s historic register.
The city has sought to sell the Culmback and surrounding block before: In 2007, the city envisioned selling it to turn the block into a high-rise hotel. Developers balked.
Four other parcels on the surplus list are smaller pieces around town.
The city began looking at surplussing this group of properties last year.
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