Following a long-standing history of successful regional partnerships and open space acquisition in Issaquah, the City Council approved a plan to preserve 46 acres on Cougar Mountain during its Dec. 3, 2018 meeting.
Commonly called Bergsma, the land located on the northeast corner of Cougar Mountain between Newport Way Northwest and Talus has been proposed for development – most recently as 57 homes.
Bergsma is one of the last significant pieces of privately-owned open space properties zoned for development in Issaquah.
“This is a historic moment for Issaquah,” said Issaquah Mayor Mary Lou Pauly. “It’s clear our community is supportive of connecting our parks system to the breathtaking regional public lands that surround us. This initiative does just that.”
If preserved, the land would serve as a gateway to Cougar Mountain from Issaquah’s valley floor. The land connects to a “green necklace” of other City parks, trails and open spaces; the master-planned Talus community; and a major transit center serviced by Trailhead Direct
, King County’s transit-to-trails program.
“We are thrilled to collaborate with Issaquah and The Trust for Public Land in protecting these lands near Cougar Mountain from possible development,” said Christie True, Director of the King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks. “With our last, best green spaces increasingly under development pressure, working with partners to hasten protections and increase access is what our new King County Land Conservation Initiative is all about.”
The acquisition would also help to accomplish two strategic projects – hillside acquisitions and a trail from Talus to Tibbetts Valley Park – outlined in Issaquah’s 2018 Parks Strategic Plan, which was shaped by significant public input.
On Dec. 3, the council authorized the City
to enter into a Purchase and Sale Agreement to acquire the land in partnership with King County and The Trust for Public Land, pending approval by The Trust for Public Land’s Board of Directors.
Starting in January 2018, the City partnered with The Trust for Public Land to explore options for the purchase of all – or a portion – of the site. After a series of negotiations, the Bergsma developer and The Trust for Public Land entered into an Option to Purchase Agreement that covers all 46 acres for $11 million. The agreement expires Dec. 31, 2018, and offers up to 60 days to close.
Thanks to strong partnerships, the funding proposal includes:
- The City of Issaquah purchasing the eastern-most 33.5 acres for $10.645 million, which would expand Harvey Manning Park. City officials expect to acquire $6.822 million in grant funding during the next few years, reducing Issaquah’s ultimate cost to $3.823 million. To decrease the City’s upfront costs, The Trust for Public Land is also offering $3 million on an interest-free basis until Dec. 31, 2019. City Council members will consider another agenda bill during its Jan. 7, 2019 meeting to approve a financing plan.
- King County’s plans for purchasing the western-most 12.5 acres, which adjoins its existing Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park, for $355,000. As part of efforts to accelerate open space investments through the Land Conservation Initiative, King County Parks will apply for 2019 Conservation Futures Tax funding to acquire the land, which would then require King County Council approval.
Contingent on approvals from all partners involved, the sale could close the last week of February 2019.