In mid-July, a few members of Stewards of Wood Creek Everett (SWCE - that is our new, official name) met with Deputy Mayor Nick Harper, Council Member Paul Roberts, and representatives from Forterra, a prominent land conservation non-profit in the Pacific Northwest.
The following is a direct quote from the outline the Deputy Mayor Nick Harper provided following the meeting. It describes potential options and next steps for interested community members to work collaboratively with the City administration and City Council to explore conservation options to effectively surplus and transfer its interest in Wood Creek:
“Those next steps include, but may not be limited [emphasis added] to, the following:
- Establish an agreement between the Parties outlining shared goals and distinct outcomes being worked towards
- Begin a robust process to determine the true fair market value of the Property, including prospective development limitations as the result of actual (e.g. geotechnical analysis), or desired environmental conditions, ecological values, potential carbon sequestration, mitigation opportunities, etc.;
- Investigate all available alternative tools by which the City, and its Utility, can be made whole financially;
- Determine a realistic timeline to accomplish this, including the possibility of a phased transaction over what could be a number of years;
- Understand available funding strategies; and
- Return recommendations to Administration and City Council with a proposed action plan.
As we discussed, there will certainly be some twists and turns along the way given the complex nature of these types of real estate transactions. Building trust between the parties, and establishing clear principles of engagement will be important so that we have a process that is transparent, predictable, and as fair as possible.”
Deputy Mayor Harper further committed to attending one of our upcoming SWCE meetings with appropriate staff to speak on behalf of the City, answer questions, and address some of the concerns of our neighbors. It is worth noting that while we have a verbal commitment from the Mayor’s representative on this issue to explore conservation options, possible surplus and sale for residential development purposes, particularly of the 15 acres of "flat" area, is not off the table.
During forest tours for Mayor Franklin and five Council Members, one of our main talking points have been the indicators of landslide and erosion risk in the forest. As the City Council lead on Wood Creek, Member Roberts emphasized his strong concerns in this area. Both he and the Deputy Mayor agreed that because of Washington State law relating surplus land, any decision on how to transfer interest of Wood Creek would need a more comprehensive appraisal informed by a detailed geotechnical analysis.
Even for preservation options, the land’s value would need to be assessed so that the correct (non-profit) fundraising goal could be targeted for legal transfer or purchase of the property for conservation purposes.
We need volunteers!
If you would like to join the effort to preserve Wood Creek, email firstname.lastname@example.org. We especially need community and neighborhood outreach, marketing, accounting, legal, and administrative volunteers.
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