City Council considers condemnation of land

By Dennis Box, The Courier-Herald

The highlight of the Bonney Lake City Council workshop on May 18 was a discussion concerning the condemnation of land next to Allan Yorke Park.

The nearly 13-acre property, owned by Schuur Brothers Construction, has been rezoned for R-2. Schuur Brothers had planned to build townhouses on the property.

The Council is struggling to find land for parks in the city and the parcel is perfectly situated to expand Allan Yorke Park. However, there are serious complications and costs involved.

Mayor Bob Young came out strongly against condemning the property.

"This property was not considered by the Parks Board because it was too expensive," Young said. "We can get a bigger bang for the buck than we will get buying this land. We need more parks. I'm just opposed to the cost of this land."

Councilman Neil Johnson expressed the need for the city to move quickly to acquire the land for Bonney Lake.

"I guarantee you, if we don't get this...we'll regret it," Johnson said. "We have a great opportunity with this park. How many opportunities do we get to be leaders? This will make Allan Yorke Park the largest park in the region. It comes down to being leaders and vision. This is a chance we have to be positive."

Condemnation is a legal process where a city may take land from a private citizen, paying fair market value, if the property is deemed necessary for the public good.

If the City Council decides to condemn the property a legal process begins where a Pierce County Superior Court judge will decide if the property is necessary for the public good.

If the judge's ruling affirms the city's legal standing to condemn the property, a jury decides the fair-market value of the property.

"I think this piece of property is wonderful," Councilman James Rackley said. "We should have bought it many years ago, but we didn't. We have only so much resources. We need to concentrate on what we can purchase."

If the property goes through the legal process of condemnation, the cost to the city has been speculated to range from $1.5 million to $3 million.

"This piece of property is uniquely located as the last piece to expand Allan Yorke Park," Deputy Mayor Dan Swatman said. "We'll pay for whatever the fair market value is. That's perfect."

Dennis Box can be reached at

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