A historic day for Mukilteo

By Paige DeChambeau, Gulch View | Sep 25, 2013

Sept. 11 was a memorable day for the Japanese Gulch Group. This is not just because it marked the anniversary of a day that has been branded into our memory as one of great tragedy. No, this Sept. 11 was very different.

This year there was good news and that came in the form of the Snohomish County Council approving the recommendations that were made by the Snohomish County Conservation Futures Board on how to spend $25 million on parks and open spaces.

Many great park projects were funded on this historic day, including $2.5 million for purchasing land in Japanese Gulch.

In March, the County Council approved the selling of several bonds that set aside $25 million. Some of this funding was to be allocated toward the acquisition of open spaces.

The Snohomish County Conservation Futures Board, which advises the County Council, set to work on establishing criteria on how to best use these dollars. The board set up a review process and a series of meetings to assess applications from throughout the region.

In August, the city of Mukilteo, along with the Japanese Gulch Group and Forterra, presented their application to the board requesting funds for land acquisition in Japanese Gulch.

After many hours and a lot of hard work, the board recommended to the Snohomish County Council that just shy of $2.5 million be dedicated toward purchasing land in Japanese Gulch.

The Japanese Gulch Group would like to take this opportunity to thank all the amazing people who have worked so hard to make this a reality.

We are grateful to the Snohomish County Futures board, made up of volunteers, including our own City Council President Randy Lord, who worked diligently toward protecting open space in Snohomish County.

They had to make tough decisions in finalizing where they thought the dollars should be allocated and we appreciate their thoroughness, including the many hours of wading through applications and hearing presentations.

We, the Japanese Gulch Group, thank you for your generous recommendation!

We would also like to thank Brian Sullivan and the entire Snohomish County Council for supporting the recommendations of the Conservation Futures Board.

There are many great parks and open space projects that were funded by this council’s generosity, including Japanese Gulch, and everyone in the region should appreciate their efforts and dedication to the parks.

Then of course, we want to thank Forterra and the city of Mukilteo. Mayor Joe Marine, City Administrator Joe Hannan and the city staff have been working hard to try to find reasonable solutions on obtaining the rest of the land in Japanese Gulch.

The Mukilteo City Council has also dedicated a lot time and effort to figuring out how to purchase this historic property.

In fact, Councilmember and mayoral candidate Jennifer Gregerson recently put forth a proposal to find funding within the existing city budget in case the city of Mukilteo chooses to allocate dollars toward a gulch purchase.

On the state level, Sen. Paull Shin, Reps. Marko Liias and Mary Helen Roberts, along with many others, were instrumental in bringing in state funding that was used in the past and additional funding that can be used in the future to purchase the remaining 98 acres of Japanese Gulch property.

Lastly, the Japanese Gulch Group is very lucky to be located in a community that really cares about preserving forest land. The community has really rallied around this project and made it both politically feasible and socially vital enough that the group continues its work toward purchasing the land.

We thank our many supporters throughout the years who volunteer both physically and with their checkbooks to work toward the goal of purchasing and preserving this property forever.

We know how important the community is and that is why we often quote Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

While we have thanked a lot of people for all the hard work that has already been done, the property still needs to be purchased. We sincerely hope that an agreement with the seller will come soon.

After that, our role will start to change as we focus more on helping the city to sustain this purchase. We ask for your continued support of the Japanese Gulch Group’s effort in making this a reality.

Find out how you can help at www.japanesegulch.org.

The Japanese Gulch Group is planning several fun events this fall! Sign up for our mailing list and we will keep you posted.

Comments (1)
Posted by: Lynn McKinney | Sep 28, 2013 01:25

I would like to point out, that Forterra was hired to submit the grant application and negotiate the sale, according to a Herald artictle, "If all of the property is bought, Forterra receives up to $200,000. If part of the parcel is obtained, the company would receive a minimum of $45,000 and a maximum of $120,000."

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