Mukilteo land eyed for sports fields

MUKILTEO — A Mukilteo conservation group has signed a purchase agreement to buy a chunk of land along Japanese Gulch where a California developer had recently planned to build an industrial park.

Under the agreement, which was finalized over the weekend, the Japanese Gulch Group has six months to raise $375,000 toward buying the 8.76-acre property and to consider whether it wants to move forward with the land deal. Then the group would have two years to pay off the remaining purchase price.

Japanese Gulch Group member Richard Emery declined to comment on the price of the land, which is owned by the Precht family of Snohomish County. A month ago, the property’s listed sale price was $1.9 million, he said.

The group’s goal is to build a park with sports fields on the land, which sits on the southwest side of the gulch.

Until last month, the parcel was part of a plan to build a light industrial park at the gulch. After several months of studies, the company, Birtcher Development &Investments of Irvine, Calif., opted not to proceed with its plans.

“This is a very marvelous opportunity that six months ago we had no idea it would even be possible,” said Emery, who also sits on the Mukilteo City Council. “We are really thrilled by this opportunity to see this move in the direction we’d like to see this go.”

Ron Thompson, president and broker of Windermere Commercial NW, worked with the Precht family and the Mukilteo group to negotiate the purchase agreement. The family likes the idea of their land being converted into a park, Thompson said.

“We had other offers we were looking at, but we went with this one because it appeared to be the best one with the best cause at the time,” he said.

The Japanese Gulch Group is seeking funding from the city of Mukilteo, sports organizations and regional land conservation groups to buy the property. The city has $1 million in this year’s budget for acquiring park land.

The group is also hiring a grant writer, and plans to reach out to state and federal government officials for assistance.

Mukilteo City Councilwoman Linda Grafer, a member of the Mukilteo Parks Board from 1980 to 2007, said some city officials have wanted to build a park at the gulch for years.

“I’m hoping we can get a package together to find that money, although I know the time frame is somewhat limited,” Grafer said. “But the group has a lot of enthusiasm, and I know they’ll find a way to make it happen.”

The parcel is relatively flat, and it serves as the access point to other properties on the west side of the gulch. Planning an industrial park at the gulch would likely be more difficult without that land, Emery said.

“I would think it would require a lot more careful planning,” he said.

Reporter Scott Pesznecker: 425-339-3436 or

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