Edmonds neighbors excited about Esperance Park expansion

EDMONDS — A community park in the Esperance area is set to grow now that Snohomish County has reached a real-estate agreement with the Edmonds School District.

The County Council on Monday approved buying 3.4 acres for Esperance Park. The addition will increase the park’s size to more than nine acres.

“I’m happy to see that the purchase is actually going through,” said John Briney,of the county’s Parks Advisory Board. “I know the neighborhood is very excited.”

Briney, also a member of the Friends of Esperance Parks group, said he and his neighbors are ready to start planning future amenities. A new playground, an off-leash dog area and a walking trail around the park perimeter factor into those plans. The new purchase includes a parking area.

County parks staff have been hosting community meetings about Esperance Park for about two years, said Russ Bosanko, operations manager for county parks. They hope to hold more meetings next year before bringing a redevelopment plan to the County Council for approval.

The county has about $890,000 available for construction, which could start in 2017, Bosanko said.

Current features include a Little League baseball diamond, practice-size soccer fields and a small playground. One corner of the park is wooded.

The park is located in Esperance, an unincorporated area surrounded by the city of Edmonds. The site two blocks west of Highway 99 used to house the former Esperance Elementary School.

An original schoolhouse was built there shortly after the school district started buying up land in 1911. A bigger school was built there in the 1950s and the old building moved across 224th Street SW to a spot behind Esperance Baptist Church, where it remains. The elementary school closed in 1976, then was used for a variety of district programs.

The county bought most of former school property in separate pieces during the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Money for the pending $1.9 million purchase is coming from a mix of state grants, impact fees from developers and property taxes collected through the Conservation Futures program.

The purchase is set to close before the end of April.

Before the county and the school district reached the purchase agreement, developers had eyed the land for housing.

County Councilwoman Stephanie Wright, whose district covers the area, said she was pleased that the parcel will remain open space. She called the park “an important and well-used community asset.”

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

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