The Wayne Golf Course property will become a park owned and protected for public use.

You can see from the Wayne Visioning Sessions that determining the right direction for the land is a complicated balance between community vision, funding source restrictions , how the park fits in with park and recreation planning through the city and surrounding areas and being in harmony with the natural environment along the Sammamish river given its natural beauty and conservation value.

WayneJigsaw

OneBothell, King County, Forterra, and the City of Bothell are working together to determine the end vision for the Park at Wayne, with support from our friends in the state of Washington.

TrailMap From TrailLink

Map generated using TrailLink

The  Wayne property lies adjacent to the extremely popular Blyth Park, and allows for connections to three regional trails the 17.4 mile Tolt Pipeline Trail,  27 mile Burke-Gilman Trail, and 11-mile Sammamish River Trail.

Creating a new park with Blyth would bring together ~130 acre’s of green space and integrate the land with downtown Bothell with its connectivity, to the benefit of local communities as a regional attraction.Visioning concept plan_draft graphic_6.23.2016_small

You can read J.R. Brennan’s presentation from the visioning process here. It gives a good indication of public interest and what we need to consider when looking for grant funding which adds restrictions to land usage and will constrain future plans where each grant is applied.

To show how funding is going and current state the grant restrictions view the Wayne Mission Progress page.

Forterra, King County, City of Bothell, and OneBothell will ensure care is taken in balancing public grant funds and other funding for the purchase of the property. The public grant funds will have associated deed restrictions that dictate how the property can be managed in the future. Other funding may have more flexibility to allow for additional community needs.

Ultimately, the actual plan for Wayne will be created through a master planning process.  Once all of the land has been purchased from Forterra by the City, the public will be given several opportunities to comment on how the land will be used. As part of the process, the public will be informed that part of the land has restrictions due to the conservation easement, and additional restrictions will be in place based on the grants used to purchase the land. The City will need to take these restrictions into account when acting on the public’s requests and completing the master plan.

From the beginning—when rezoning was requested and rumors surfaced the property was for sale—it consistently has been our understanding that the golf course had ceased being a profitable business. A significant investment would be needed for it to just break even. As our Save Wayne Land movement picked up there was little support for it remaining a golf course from the public. In fact, many golfers commented to us that Wayne would be better as a park, as standing water impedes the game in the rainy months.

The granting agencies that support improvement to watersheds, riparian zones, fish and wildlife habitat, and passive recreation generally will not support using land adjacent to a fish bearing stream being heavily managed with fertilizer. It directly counters what improves water quality and habitat.

However, Wayne will continue to be a golf course while funding is being sourced before it becomes a public park.

Forterra is the interim owner through Feb 10, 2019 for the back nine and May 31, 2019 for the front nine. Upon raising the funds for acquisition, the loan will be paid and the the property ownership will be transferred to the City of Bothell and King County.

Wayne Public Golf Course was designed by Al Smith and opened in 1931. In 1933 during the great depression the Anderson family bought the front nine of Wayne Public Golf Course from the Blyth family. “Gordy” Richards (formally head golf professional at Broadmoor GC, Tacoma CC, and the original head golf professional at Overlake GCC) took over operations and bought the front nine in 1950. In 1961 Dave Richards took over the lease and operated until 1996 and then passed the baton to “Gordy” Richards’ grandson, Steve Richards, who operates the course today.

According to a letter from Joshua Freed, David Richards notified the City on November 27, 2013, that the back nine would be put up for sale. Council discussed this matter and no action was taken. On May 30, 2014, a development group acquired the right to purchase the back nine.

After much community participation, and months of negotiations. Forterra secured the entirety of the Wayne Golf Course on May 31, 2016, closing the 50-acre front nine, having already purchased the 39-acre back nine on February 10, 2016, from the aforementioned development group.

The golf course will continue to operate during Forterra’s interim ownership. Upon raising the funds for acquisition, the loan will be paid and the property ownership will be transferred to the City of Bothell and King County.

Here’s Forterra’s press release

Forterra purchased the 39 acre back nine for $7.125 million in February 2016. Forterra purchased the remaining 50 acre front nine for $3 million in May 2016. The nonprofit, which is devoted to regional sustainability, financed these property purchases through a loan with the help of a number of civic leaders to avoid imminent residential subdivision of these unique properties.

The acquisition allows the community to turn its full attention to raising the permanent acquisition funds for the property and the sale must be done by February 2019. Forterra will work alongside OneBothell, the City of Bothell, King County, and the State to assemble funding so that the property can be preserved for the long term. In total, we need to raise approximately $11 million to pay off the loan.

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About Forterra

Dedicated to the people and places of the Pacific Northwest, Forterra is a regional sustainability organization working to keep this place special for today and future generations. Forterra focuses on how we live, work and play on our lands to address challenges stemming from mounting population growth, climate change and affordability. Working from cities to wilderness, Forterra thinks creatively and applies a broad range of skills including land conservation, real estate strategy, stewardship and restoration, policy innovation and community engagement. Today, Forterra has permanently protected more than $500 million worth of critical landscapes and improved the quality of life for people in over 94 Washington state communities.

For more info on Forterra go to forterra.org or forterra.org/savewayne

Our relationship with Forterra

Once we realized the significance of this land and how important to the public and conservation it was, we sought partners to help us preserve it. We were introduced to Forterra on February 25, 2015, at the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition’s Great Outdoors Lobby Day in Olympia. It was clear Forterra was a regional expert that could bring credibility to our mission and resources to partner with us to save Wayne from development. Also started as a grass roots organization, Forterra has saved hundreds of thousand acres of land during the past 25 years of its existence.

In early May 2015, OneBothell asked Forterra to step in and make an interim purchase of the property so as to prevent its imminent development and provide a window of opportunity in which to raise funds in order to secure the permanent conservation of the property. Forterra has acted with utmost urgency in its attempts to secure interim acquisition financing, negotiate the purchase of both the front nine and back nine, and raise permanent acquisition conservation funding. Overall, OneBothell and Forterra mutually intend to work together towards their mutually-desired ultimate goal for the property: permanent conservation.

On February 9, 2016, OneBothell entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with Forterra as a commitment to together to acquire, fund, and steward a masterplan for the property. OneBothell agreed to:

  • Manage PR to keep awareness and momentum high for OneBothell’s leadership on the issue and Forterra’s role financing, negotiating, fundraising and disposition of the property with a goal for conservation and community benefits.
  • Manage public outreach to ensure understanding of project circumstances and to encourage support for both OneBothell’s and Forterra’s actions throughout all phases of project.
  • Engage elected officials on the Bothell City Council, King County Council and State Legislature, as well as the other elected officials who are helping OneBothell and Forterra conserve the property.
  • Engage and seek the support of stakeholders important for the initial financing, fundraising and disposition of the property including.
  • Ensure OneBothell’s long-term sustainability, including fundraising for on-going operational costs

Working together with an active community, along with backing from elected officials, we were able to gain control of the land on May 31, 2016, and focus on our funding efforts in earnest.

For the People. For the Land. Forever.

Friends of the City of Bothell and surrounding areas can all participate. The Wayne property is a regional issue.

The easiest way to help OneBothell is by adding your name to our list of supporters. It takes less than 30 seconds of your time, but greatly benefits our cause. Many citizens have already registered their support, which helped us successfully prevent development of Wayne Golf Course land. We are now pursuing grants, along with Forterra, King County, the City of Bothell and the state of Washington, to fund the final land purchase on behalf of the public. Organizations that offer grants to non-profit entities take into consideration how much support a non-profit (and its cause) has in the community. By registering your support of OneBothell, you help us obtain grants and solidify support from elected officials. Signing the online petition also allows us to connect with the community who are coming together to help us in our plight. It helps us understand how important issues are to them, so we can add their voices to our own.

Please sign up today: https://onebothell.org/sign-up/

The owners of Wayne Golf Course were trying to rezone approximately 4.1 acres of the front nine of the golf course. The current zoning is R 9600, and they wanted to change it to SR 520. The below link is from the December 17, 2014, meeting.

Public notice of proposed rezoning

This rezoning would have allowed the Wayne Golf Course or future developers to build multifamily buildings, restaurants, etc., on this land. The submitted site proposal depicted 76 townhomes on the 4.1 acres.

Wayne Golf Course Development Site Plan

Here is a map of the front nine of Wayne Golf Course and the area that would have been affected by the development.

Development site map

During the December 17 2014 City of Bothell planning meeting, the city staff recommended changing the zoning from R9600 on 4.1 acres with existing clubhouse/restaurant: 2-10 employees – or the potential for 14 lots or 39 population. The proposed designation of R-AC, OP, NB: would allow for 3-15 employees – 76 townhomes or 152 population (per applicant’s proposal).

Zoning change map

On May 30, 2014, a development group acquired the right to purchase the back nine with the intention of building 50 houses on the fairways within its current zoning of R 9600.

Wayne Conceptual Back Nine Subdivision

Thankfully, with active community support, partnering with Forterra, and backing from elected officials, we were able to gain control of the land for the public.

What is a conservation easement?

A conservation easement is a voluntary legal agreement between a landowner and a land trust or government agency that permanently limits uses of the land in order to protect its conservation values. Landowners retain many of their rights, including the right to own and use the land, sell it, and pass it on to their heirs.

What are the benefits of conservation easements?

Conservation easements allow people to protect the land they love, and are the number-one tool available for protecting privately owned land. All conservation easements must provide public benefits, such as water quality, farm and ranch land preservation, scenic views, wildlife habitat, outdoor recreation, education, or historic preservation.

For more information see the King County Conservation Futures Program

When was the conservation easement put on the Wayne Golf Course property?

In 1996, King County acquired the development rights of 45.61 acres on the front nine of the Wayne Golf Course. King County, in cooperation with the City of Bothell, paid $889,776 to the owners of Wayne Golf Course for the rights. Funds for the purchase were made possible by the 1993 Regional Conservation Futures Acquisition Program paid for by taxpayers. The 1997 assessed value of the land was $352,100.

In September 1997, the owners of Wayne Golf Course and King County signed an open space taxation agreement. This was done under RCW 84.34. The agreement lowered the property tax by 90 percent on the whole front nine—totaling 50.3 acres. This taxation area included the clubhouse and parking area.

See the Conservation Easement and Open Space Taxation Agreement Sept 1997 for more details.

 

How does a conservation easement restrict use of the Wayne Golf Course property?

The front nine has a Conservation Easement on the large area of 45.61 acres below:

Front9ConservationEasement

This confines the use of the property to the following:

  1. Golf course.
  2. Low impact, passive use open field recreation use.
  3. Open space park facility, provided however that activities such as ball field, courts and gyms are not allowed.
  4. Open field agriculture use.
  5. Wildlife and/or horticultural use.

See the Conservation Easement for more details.

Are conservation easements permanent?

In most cases, yes. Most easements “run with the land,” meaning that all owners, not just the original owner that come after them are subject to the easement. A few conservation programs use temporary easements – but only permanent conservation easements qualify for income and estate tax benefits. Wayne has a permanent conservation easement on the front nine.

We need to raise approximately $11 million to pay back Forterra and give the property to the City of Bothell.

At the time of purchase, a grant of $1 million had been awarded by the King County Conservation Futures program. This was accomplished by the team with leadership from King County Councilmember Rod Dembowski. With the help of Senator Rosemary McAuliffe and Representative Derek Stanford, an additional $1 million was committed for the project by the State. Several million dollars’ worth of recreation and salmon-recovery habitat grants have also been submitted for funding consideration.

Hopes for successful funding are high, given the tract’s special features. Abutting the Burke-Gilman Trail and adjacent to popular Blyth Park and the Tolt pipeline, the potential new park could provide hiking, biking and running trails, as well as public river access. It has 4,800 feet of riverbank, representing more than 4 percent of the 14 mile-long Sammamish River, making it an attractive project for river restoration and conservation interests. Other features include an historic apple orchard and farmhouse, together with acres of woods. The site is one of the last large, private, undeveloped riverfront properties anywhere in the central Puget Sound metropolitan area.

However, if the purchase of the Wayne property cannot be fully funded through the pending public grant requests, we can explore community fundraising, private or corporate foundations, or through the City of Bothell.

If that is not successful, Forterra will be forced to cover its acquisition costs to pay back its loan. This would likely be done through selling part of the property for conservation sensitive development.

If Wayne cannot be fully funded through public grants, efforts will be made to raise funds from private and/or corporate sources. If the City of Bothell provides funds—depending on the chosen approach and taxation entity—your taxes could be affected. In most instances, a special levy would be put to the voters before a tax increase for this purpose could go into effect. That means you will have a say in the outcome.