City buys final parcel for park

December 8, 2008

By Jon Savelle

This city map shows the proposed Bolliger Property acquisition at the corner of Northwest Holly Street and Rainier Boulevard Northwest. By City of Issaquah.This city map shows the proposed Bolliger Property acquisition at the corner of Northwest Holly Street and Rainier Boulevard Northwest. By City of Issaquah.

In a $2.69 million deal, the city is buying a long-sought 1.3-acre parcel of land for Cybil-Madeline Park — envisioned as the “jewel in the crown” of the Issaquah parks system.

Following an executive session of the City Council Dec. 1, members instructed the administration to enter into a purchase and sale agreement for the land at the southwest corner of Rainier Boulevard North and Northwest Holly Street. Two houses are built on it, surrounded by some old fruit trees, fencing and lawn.

The agreement has not yet been signed, but both the buyer and seller expect it to go forward, said City Administrator Leon Kos.Together with adjacent parcels already in city ownership, the new purchase will complete a tract of public property extending west from Rainier Boulevard between the east fork of Issaquah Creek and Northwest Holly Street. The city also owns land south of the east fork, now used for a parks maintenance yard, and property west of the main stem of Issaquah Creek just south of the school district’s parcel.

The city’s vision for the site is to create a natural park at the confluence of the creeks, one that would be the “jewel of the city’s park system.”

So says a handout provided to the council by the administration during an executive session Dec. 1. It adds: “The confluence area is one of the most unique and startlingly beautiful treasures in downtown Issaquah — an area that needs to be available and opened up to citizens. The Bolliger property is the last remaining piece that needs to be acquired to fulfill the vision.”

The handout also notes that the park is right on the Rainier Trail, which runs up Rainier Boulevard on the east side and includes tracks that next year should see a trolley operating on them.

“That whole area adjacent to the Issaquah Creek is some very nice property,” said Councilman Fred Butler. “That’s the last piece that we had been trying to acquire for a number of years.”

Known as the Bolliger property, for owner and developer Steven Bolliger, the land is two parcels. It had been slated for development as the Rainier Cottages, a townhouse project. But market conditions and two very persuasive city employees prompted Bolliger to reconsider a sale to the city.

“The city had expressed interest in purchasing it after I had actually developed the plans,” Bolliger said. “But Margaret and Anne have been persistent, bless their hearts. They are quite a dynamic duo.”

That would be Margaret Macleod, parks coordinator and planner, and Parks & Recreation Director Anne McGill.

“They did a great job in acquiring some additional land, the Anderson property, to expand the park along the creek,” Bolliger said. “Since it would be a while before I would break ground, it made sense (to sell). They are hard to say no to.”

Macleod said she and McGill sat down with Bolliger twice to discuss the property, each time emphasizing its importance for the park.

Eventually, all of the parcels, including the maintenance yard, would be part of the park, said Mayor Ava Frisinger. All have been assembled over eight or nine years through grant purchases and one very generous donation of $500,000 from Julia Pritt. It was her granddaughters, Cybil and Madeline, for whom the park is named.

“Long-term planning has paid off,” Frisinger said. “I do think it will be an absolute gem of a park.”

Bolliger’s land consists of a large corner parcel and a smaller one to the south. Each has a house. According to King County property records, the larger parcel is 1.08 acre and is appraised at $580,000. Bolliger purchased it in 2004 for $465,000.

The smaller parcel is a quarter-acre and appraised at $375,000. Bolliger bought that parcel in 2006 for $500,000.

Next comes development of a master plan for Cybil-Madeline Park, Butler said. Preliminary work has outlined “passive” uses, wherein visitors would enjoy the setting, but the park would not include sports fields or similarly intensive development.

In any case, the process will include lots of opportunities for the public to become involved. Nothing has been scheduled yet.

“That’s the last piece that we had been trying to acquire for a number of years.”

— Fred Butler

Issaquah City Councilman

Reach Reporter Jon Savelle at 392-6434, ext. 234, or jsavelle@isspress.com. Comment on this story at www.issaquahpress.com.

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