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City to acquire county property

Fairgrounds, four other parcels will become Enumclaw's

News began spreading Monday that Enumclaw is poised to take control of the King County Fairgrounds and other nearby county holdings.

A press conference was scheduled for 10:30 Tuesday morning (after press deadlines) at the fairgrounds. It was expected both city and county officials would be on hand to announce the land transfer.

It was anticipated the agreement would center upon a fairgrounds transfer, as part of an economic catalyst for the Enumclaw Plateau. As part of the agreement, Enumclaw will also acquire four nearby county-owned parcels of land.

The transaction, which includes $2 million to help the city transform the properties into a major tourist attraction, is subject to approval by the Metropolitan King County Council and the Enumclaw City Council. Neither of those groups had scheduled the matter for an immediate agenda.

The transaction, if passed by both bodies, would take effect Jan. 1, 2007.

The city of Enumclaw recently completed the first phase of a visitor/tourism study, which cited the fairgrounds and its potential for redevelopment as a first-class equestrian facility as the centerpiece to boost tourism and business in the community.

“The fairgrounds have always been important to our community and it has been a pleasure to work with the county to realize our dream of a major destination that would attract visitors and new revenues to our area,” Enumclaw Mayor John Wise said.

City Administrator Mark Bauer said the city views the fairgrounds as an essential tool in its economic future, even if an ongoing feasibility study shows an equestrian center is not the best use for the land.

Aside from the land, Enumclaw will receive money as part of the deal. King County will invest $2 million in county funds as part of the transaction. The money can only be spent at the fairgrounds or other properties involved in the transaction. The money will be split evenly: $1 million can be used only for capital projects; the remaining $1 million can be used for maintenance and other operating expenses in addition to capital projects.

King County Executive Ron Sims has made it clear the four full-time employees who are currently assigned to the fairgrounds will be offered jobs elsewhere within the King County Parks system. Sims also said he expects the King County Fair to continue as part of the arrangement with the city.

In addition to the fairgrounds, the city of Enumclaw will also receive four other parcels of county-owned land totaling more than 22 acres. The land includes two parcels across the street from the fairgrounds, Sportsman Park at 290th Avenue Southeast and Southeast 448th Street, and Farmers Park at 228th Avenue Southeast and Southeast 436th Street.

Under the terms of the agreement, the fairgrounds and other properties involved in the transaction must continue to be used for park and recreation purposes.

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