The Olympia City Council has approved the purchase of 149 acres of land for parks.
The city will buy two sites. The first is a 74-acre property known as Trillium/Ashton Woods, an undeveloped area east of LBA Park and south of Morse-Merryman Road in southeast Olympia.
The price for Trillium is $5 million. Property owner D.R. Horton had been planning to build a 400-lot housing development if the sale failed to materialize.
The other purchase involves the 75-acre Kaiser Heights property, a wooded site southwest of Ken Lake between Kaiser Road and Lakemoor Drive in west Olympia. Property owner Wonderland Holdings has agreed to sell Kaiser Heights to the city for $1.1 million.
A resolution to close on both properties was approved with a 5-0 vote Tuesday night. Mayor Cheryl Selby and Councilwoman Jeannine Roe were both excused from the meeting.
“In one action, this City Council has set aside a third of the 500-acre goal for the city of Olympia,” Councilman Jim Cooper said Tuesday.
Cooper referred to a goal that was set in 2004. That’s when voters approved a 3 percent tax with 2 percent of that designated to buy 500 acres of park land. However, only 63 acres were purchased in the next decade, and money from the voted utility tax instead went toward basic park maintenance and operations.
In 2015, Olympia park officials unveiled a six-year plan to buy more than 300 acres of land for parks. The recently approved Metropolitan Parks District will assist with that goal by generating about $3 million from Olympia taxpayers for park maintenance and acquisition.
Tuesday’s resolution was praised by members of the LBA Woods Park Coalition, a grass-roots group that has urged the city to buy the Trillium property, along with the nearby 72-acre Bentridge property. The city has not made plans to buy the latter, which is south of LBA Park.
“Our city’s heartbeat depends in great measure on its parks,” coalition member Cristiana Figueroa told the council. “We look forward to forging this vision together.”
Maria Ruth said her fellow coalition members nurtured a collaborative environment with the city to make sure their voices were heard and represented, especially in efforts such as the parks plan. The coalition also collected signatures from more than 5,300 residents who supported buying the parcels adjacent to LBA Park.
“The hard work was getting the attention of the City Council and letting them know we were not going to give up,” Ruth told The Olympian. “Clearly they were listening to us.”
Coalition member Brian Faller was thankful for the pending real estate purchase, but acknowledged that there’s more work ahead — namely, getting the city to buy the Bentridge property.
“We’re feeling quite optimistic,” he said of pursuing Bentridge to complement the Trillium deal. “These two properties are good together.”