More protection for Lake Stickney

Neighbors once worried that homes and docks would one day encircle all of Lake Stickney’s shoreline, erasing a rare patch of nature in the fast-growing area between Everett and Lynnwood.

Those worries have disappeared. Snohomish County closed a deal at the end of March to buy an $1.8 million parcel of land on the lake’s wet and wooded western side. The purchase roughly doubles the 7 acres the county had already bought for a future Lake Stickney Park. Officials have promised to keep the park as a natural area for the suburban corridor between I-5 and Highway 99.

“We are delighted that our decade-long effort to preserve these multiple acres of pristine wetlands is becoming a reality,” said Joyce Altaras, president of the Lake Stickney Conservancy, a neighborhood group that has advocated for limited development on the west side of the lake.

Water from the 24-acre lake flows to Swamp Creek, the Sammamish River and eventually to Lake Washington. Neighbors have fought off development on the western shore for 15 years, including one proposal for up to 49 houses. Altaras and others feared that building condominiums or houses on those parcels would have ruined water quality downstream and destroyed wildlife habitat, including that of the endangered chinook salmon.

The county expects to build a small picnic shelter or parking lot, but not much else, parks director Tom Teigen said. They expect to start gathering feedback soon to gauge what amenities the public would like to see.

“I’ve met with folks in their homes out there and they were very adamant — they want to conserve it,” Teigen said. “We expect that for the next several years, it’s pretty much going to be a natural site.”

The county bought the property using conservation futures, a property-tax fund that can only be used to buy land for preservation.

The future park at Lake Stickney occupies much of the site of the former Country Gentleman resort that drew visitors to a restaurant, Olympic-sized swimming pool and small golf course. The restaurant burned down in 1982.

In late 2008, the county paid $1.2 million to buy much of that property from Barbara Holland. The purchases that closed recently included about four-tenths of an acre from Holland and about an acre from her son, said George Palmerton of MJR Inc., a Seattle development company representing the family’s real estate interests. As part of the deals, the family donated $265,000 of the property.

“For all the people involved, it was the right thing for the community,” Palmerton said.

A 5.4 acre piece of the recent purchases came from Pacific Ridge Homes, which also donated $100,000 worth of the property, county documents show.

County Councilman Mike Cooper represents the Lake Stickney area and said he has seen the park as a priority ever since he campaigned for his seat in 2007.

“It was such an opportunity because it’s one of the last remaining waterfront pieces of property that’s natural,” Cooper said. “We’re so lucky to have that preserved now. All the other building can go on around it, but that property on the lake is preserved.”

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465;

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