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City buys head of bay wetland
"Sometimes, buying a swamp makes good sense.That's certainly true if you don't plan to build - and the city doesn't, after making a significant open-space purchase this week.Oh, it's awesome, said fisheries biologist Wayne Daley, treading the marshy ground at the head of Eagle Harbor Friday afternoon. Awesome.The city council Wednesday approved the purchase of a four-acre upland parcel and eight additional acres of tidelands at the head of Eagle Harbor. The uplands sit adjacent to several private homes and the St. Barnabas Episcopal Church grounds off Gowen Place. The tide flats extend south across the harbor to the lookout point on Eagle Harbor Drive. Other adjacent upland parcels were not part of the purchase.Purchase price was $195,000, which city officials guessed was a good 40 percent less than what the land would have fetched on the open market.That's called a steal, city Administrator Lynn Nordby said Friday. That's why we moved so fast. The money will come from the city's open space/farmland preservation fund, Mayor Dwight Sutton said.The parcel was purchased from a trust held by the Lumpkin family of Seattle. The family apparently was liquidating its land holdings, and a representative who had been dealing with the city on other open-space matters mentioned its sudden availability last month.The family preferred to see the land preserved, and both parties agreed to the low-ball price after closed-door discussions by council members over the past several weeks.Daley, Sutton and Councilwoman Christine Nasser marveled Friday at the uplands rolling gracefully toward the harbor below, on the brisk but cheerily clear day.Neighbors said they've seen a variety of fowl on the property, including herons, osprey and baby geese. Notwithstanding the fact that the land zoning could have accommodated as many as four homes, though, several expressed concern over future uses by the public. All of the talk has been to keep it as open space, Nasser said, while the possibility of using the area as an informal kayak launch also has been suggested.Daley said the shoreline habitat is ideal for juvenile salmon.It's a neat property, Sutton said. It's pristine, and maybe we can keep it that way."