Making a wonderful holiday gift to residents and the region, the city of Bothell preserved an oasis of open space along the Sammamish River. The acquisition of Wayne Golf Course is also a triumph of civic engagement.
Bothell’s acquisition of the former Wayne Golf Course along the Sammamish River is a lasting gift to the city and the region.
Nicely timed with the holiday season, the city council voted to acquire the final portion of the property on Dec. 12, preserving 89 acres of open space for recreation and habitat.
The acquisition culminates a remarkable run of civic engagement by residents seeking to maintain livability as the city grows and evolves.
After the city initially relinquished its right to acquire the land, part of which was then acquired for development, residents who were already fed up with developer-driven decisions at City Hall organized and refreshed city leadership with newcomers seeking a more balanced approach to growth.
This should inspire residents in other cities to demand the preservation of property for open space, parks and other public amenities, before every last green patch is bulldozed to feed an insatiable appetite for development.
“One of the things going forward, as a region, we’ve got to be thoughtful about preserving some open spaces for people to connect,” said Mayor Andy Rheaume. “If we don’t, everything will be developed.”
With people feeling cynical about government, it’s also good to be reminded that citizens can still make a difference and overcome powerful, entrenched interests.
Grumbling about insider dealings at Bothell City Hall and the city’s growth planning crystallized after the city in 2013 relinquished its right to acquire part of the golf-course property, which was then acquired by former Mayor Joshua Freed for a housing development.
Outcry over the process led to a new emphasis on transparency and spurred a slate of newcomers to run for city council in 2015.
“The people spoke, they said they didn’t like the direction we were heading. The community made that change,” said James McNeal, a city council member who was elected after leading the One Bothell community group.
The conservation organization Forterra did heavy lifting, buying the land in 2016 to protect it as potential parkland. King County and the state Legislature made grants to defray costs.
Although it’s now a city park, the property also connects to the regional park system. The western terminus of the Tolt Pipeline Trail is nearby, and the property is adjacent to the intersection of the Burke Gilman and Sammamish River trails.
More involvement by Bothell residents is needed. The city will begin a public process in 2018 to create a master plan for improving the site. A portion could be used for ballfields.
City officials are also considering adding a restaurant or brewery to lure more visitors, as if there weren’t already reason enough to come explore this special public place along the river.
Information in this article, originally published Dec. 21, 2017, was corrected Dec. 22, 2017. A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the city of Bothell initially sold the Wayne Golf Course. It relinquished its right to acquire the property in 2013.