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Fennel Creek parcel nears grant approval

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By Judy Halone-The Courier-Herald

The city of Bonney Lake learned Oct. 10 it is one step closer to being selected for a Pierce County Conservation Futures Grant, which would provide funds to purchase nearly 10 acres of land for parks and trails.

The land in question has been owned by Vern and Juanita Cimmer since the 1950s. Its purchase price of $750,000 would be funded 50 percent by the grant, Bonney Lake Assistant Public Works Director Gary Leaf said.

The property sits along Angeline Road near the lift station, close to the state Route 410 underpass.

“I'd rather let the city have it,” Vern Cimmer said.

Leaf said he wants to see the city turn the acreage into a conservation area that could include a potential network of trails and a park system, with Fennel Creek serving as a trailhead.

“I'm really hoping we can get this land because it would be a key piece,” he said. “This property would provide a trail head parking lot big enough for a neighborhood

park in the center of town, and interconnect it to other trails, parks and open spaces. We'd be acquiring parcels that are environmentally sensitive.”

Both the Cascade Land Conservancy and the Fennel Creek Preservation Group have three purposes for this land, according to Leaf.

“Preservation and open space is first; the second purpose is that it would give us more options for the routing of the Fennel Creek Trail,” Leaf said. Fennel Creek ends at Victor Falls.

“Originally (the potential trail) was on the city-owned storm pond; it would have been problematic,” he said. “But this way, it won't have an environmental impact.

“The third purpose would be to create a neighborhood park in the center of town where presently there is none,” Leaf said.

The land acquisition is a key factor to envisioning the whole picture “years down the road,” Leaf said.

“Our mission is to make conservation and preservation our goal,” Leaf said. “The city's vision is 100 acres. Most of that we already own - we're nearly halfway there now,” he said. Leaf referred to a 38-acre parcel the city owns along Fennel Creek; another 25 acres it owns at Victor Falls, and 10 acres of land near Victor Falls from the Sumner School District that is in the final stages; that acquisition would be in exchange for mitigation fees, he said.

The grant process for the Cimmers' 10-acre parcel faced tough competition, Leaf said.

“The Conservation ranks the projects on eligibility,” he said. “They reviewed 20 projects and out of those, they picked 12 that met program requirements; we came out No. 2 on the list.”

The Conservation Futures Program is set up to allow communities to preserve open spaces, timberland, wetland, habitat acreage and agricultural land inside Pierce County. It is funded through property taxes.

“Cascade helps with the technical aspects of the land purchase and the technical aspects of the grant application itself,” he said.

Leaf said the county will decide next month on the final outcome of the grant when it adopts the 2008 budget, of which both Leaf and the Cimmers are eager to hear the results.

“We're going to have mixed emotions about it, but we're anxious to move on,” Juanita Cimmer said.

“Pierce Council could override it, but its number is too high a priority; it's not too likely to get bumped,” Leaf concluded.

Judy Halone can be reached at jhalone@courierherald.com.

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