Agreement outlines seven school sites in Black Diamond

By Dennis Box

The Maple Valley Reporter

YarrowBay, the Enumclaw School District and the city of Black Diamond presented a tentative agreement for school property at the two development sites, The Villages and Lawson Hills.

The Kirkland developer, YarrowBay, the school district and city have been negotiating for more than two years.

YarrowBay development manager Colin Lund said, “This has been quite a process. This is not just an opportunity for eduction, but it brings jobs, meeting and recreation facilities along with schools.”

District Superintendent Mike Nelson presented the plan at a joint meeting Oct. 26 at Black Diamond Elementary School.

The plan calls for the developer to set aside land for seven schools, six on The Villages site and one on the Lawson Hills site.

The agreement calls for three elementary schools, two middle schools and one high school.

According to a summary document provided by YarrowBay, there would be two 10-acre and one 13-acre site for elementary schools.

There will be two middle school sites, one 20 acres and another of 24 acres.

The high school site calls for 35 to 40 acres. In the summary document if the site is less than 40 acres the city will reserve six acres of the Lake Sawyer Regional Park for “high-school sports and recreation facilities such as ball fields and tennis courts (though not a stadium).”

Nelson said schools will be designed as “small neighborhood schools with most homes within a half mile.”

The payment for the land will be based on mitigation fees the developer pays for all the homes. The summary document stated YarrowBay and the district agreed upon a mitigation fee ranging from $35 million to $50 million, “presuming all planned units are approved and built.”

The land for the schools will be appraised prior to being transferred to the school district.

The two developments plan for about 6,000 new homes with build-out taking about 15 years.

According to the summary document, YarrowBay would “receive credits against mitigation fees in an amount equal to the appraised value of the land that is conveyed to the district.”

Any money left after YarrowBay receives credit for mitigation fees the school district can use for construction of the schools within the development and Black Diamond.

The superintendent noted in his presentation the school district “will never pay for the cost of any school site.”

Nelson called the agreement a “major statement and to have fees locked in is very important.”

The school district board will be looking at passing a bond for construction of the schools. According to Nelson there is no clear time line at this point when the first bond would be considered. The district will plan for state matching funds to be used for construction along with a bond.

The timing of a bond measure and construction of the school will depend on when YarrowBay begins building once the development is approved by the Black Diamond City Council.

Nelson wrote in an e-mail the most recent school construction figures are a January 2008 estimate of $29 million to rebuild Kibler Elementary in Enumclaw and a rebuild of the Issaquah High School listed at $84 million.

Approval of the agreement by the Black Diamond City Council and the school board will follow a series of public meetings.

The Enumclaw School District will host community meetings on the proposal, the first scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Black Diamond Elementary School. The next will be at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 12 in the Enumclaw High School library.

The Black Diamond City Council is scheduled to have the information on its Nov. 19 agenda. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. at City Hall.

The Enumclaw School Board is expected to approve the agreement at its December regular meeting in the district office.

A complete copy of the agreement and a photograph of the proposed sites is available at The Courier-Herald Web site along with this original story posted Friday.

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