New waterfront park looks likely on Port Madison

The Open Space Commission brokers public purchase of six acres off Spargur Loop.

The city is poised to establish a new shoreline park – with a public dock, no less – on the banks of Port Madison.

The city Open Space Commission was expected to sign a purchase agreement Tuesday afternoon for public purchase of three parcels totaling six acres near the corner of Spargur Loop and Hidden Cove roads. Purchase price would be $815,000 – well below the property’s appraised value of $1.375 million.

“This is a great front-page story,” OSC chair Andy Maron said. “This is a new waterfront park on the north end, and that’s an awesome story. And the owner’s going to reduce the price by more than one-third. That’s a win for everybody.”

Maron said property owners Ray Stevenson and Tom Dao approached the commission in January, after the OSC announced that it was down to its “last million” from the original $8 million in voter-approved bond funding.

Stevenson and Dow developed the nearby Hidden Cove Estates project, but were nonplussed by the waterfront parcel because of wetlands encumbrances.

“I went, ‘can I come look at it today?’” Maron said, recalling the day he was asked if the OSC might be interested.

Assuming the purchase agreement was signed yesterday afternoon, the OSC will vote to recommend the acquisition at its Thursday meeting. The purchase would go to the City Council for consideration on June 22.

As part of the package, the OSC will recommend resale of one of the three parcels – and possibly controversially, the sale of nearby T’Chookwap Park as well.

The latter property was purchased by the city in 1993 to settle a dispute with the yacht club next door over control of a road end. The high-bank waterfront park has never been fully improved, and park advocates and neighbors have continued to spar over its use for years.

Maron suggested that once the public establishes a shoreline park nearby, T’Chookwap Park would be superfluous.

OSC member Dwight Sutton agreed with Maron’s appraisal.

“This is a spectacular piece, I can tell you,” he said. People will be very, very happy, because it’s the only publicly accessible (waterfront) site there.”

Sutton noted that the parcel sits across the street from a trailhead that leads through the Hidden Cove development and connects with a nearby ball field.

“Potentially, you could start near the dock and hike up through the woods, cross the road, and pop, you’re onto the other trail,” he said.

As part of the agreement, the sellers would grade a new access driveway from Hidden Cove Road, Maron said. A tumbledown cabin on the property likely would be removed.

Even if it proves to be the last large open space purchased with current bond funding, Maron likes it.

“It’s absolutely awesome,” he said.

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