Lynnwood’s purchase of Seabrook Heights land makes neighbors happy

MEADOWDALE — The city of Lynnwood has completed its purchase of 13 acres on the steep, wooded hillside north of Meadowdale Beach Park.

The $6 million transaction for the land known as Seabrook Heights became final at 3:45 p.m. Friday. Neighbors, conservationists and others had since 2005 been fighting a planned housing project on the site. West View Properties of Everett wanted to build 70 homes. Opponents feared that water runoff and landslides would have imperiled nearby homes and the popular county park downslope.

“I’m very grateful to Lynnwood and Conservation Futures and everyone else who helped,” said Carlin McKinley, a neighbor who lives next to the property. “No matter how much me and the other neighbors wanted this, it never would have happened if Lynnwood wouldn’t have stepped up with the extra money.”

The deal came together thanks to Snohomish County awarding Lynnwood a $5 million conservation futures grant in 2013 to buy the property.

It appeared to be in jeopardy last year, when West View passed up a $5.25 million offer for the land.

The earlier offer was already more than double the property’s assessed value for 2014, but Lynnwood boosted its share to $1 million to bring the total sales price to $6 million.

McKinley and others who championed the purchase said credit belongs to several individuals and groups of people who helped make it happen: Snohomish County’s Conservation Futures board, fish conservationists, Lynnwood city leaders, County Councilwoman Stephanie Wright, the Tulalip Tribes and Seattle nonprofit Forterra.

The Seabrook property lies outside of Lynnwood city limits, but is in an area the city might some day annex.

With the new addition, the city now owns 90 acres of conservation land immediately north and south of the county’s Meadowdale Beach Park, said Jared Bond, the city’s environmental and surface water supervisor.

The park centers around a popular hiking trail down to the Puget Sound and Lund’s Gulch Creek. Beach access is shut down for now because of the closure of a pedestrian tunnel under the railroad tracks.

The city has no intention to develop its newly purchased land, Bond said. Two long-vacant houses on the property may need to be demolished. There’s evidence of squatters frequenting the area.

“Our immediate plans are to go out there and assess,” Bond said. “The first thing we’re going to do is to go out there and see what makes sense.”

Had the project moved ahead, it would have required cutting down hundreds of second-growth trees on the hillside. The county also would have required an elaborate system of ponds to capture storm runoff. The project’s opponents doubted the county’s requirements were adequate to keep water from gushing downhill, to an area already susceptible to landslides.

The purchase is expected to help protect the cutthroat trout, coho and chum salmon that live in Lund’s Gulch Creek.

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; Twitter: @NWhaglund.

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