What’s up with the WSU forest

The Bonney Lake City Council adopted the 2035 Comprehensive Plan June 30. Residents can look at plans for developments over the next 20 years, including a new city hall and a possible pedestrian overpass above state Rote 410.

The concept plan for Midtown Park.

The Bonney Lake City Council adopted the 2035 Comprehensive Plan June 30. Residents can look at plans for developments over the next 20 years, including a new city hall and a possible pedestrian overpass above state Rote 410.

Part of the city’s future development includes plans for its share of the Washington State University forest along SR 410.

Although plans for the forest are discussed in the comprehensive plan, Community Developer John Vodopich said there isn’t much of a timeline for developing the forest.

Brief history: 2004 – 2014

The WSU forest was deeded to the college by Weyerhaeuser in 1942 to be used as a living classroom for students.

In 2004, the Washington State University and Weyerhaeuser Company entered into an agreement together to sell off the 147-acre forest and split the proceeds.

Originally, WSU would receive $24 million from the sale and Weyerhaeuser would receive the rest.

However, Wally Costello, a consultant for Weyerhaeuser, has said that number is now obsolete, and WSU will be receiving a different portion of the sale.

Costello said he could not comment on the amount.

In 2009, the city of Bonney Lake signed a development agreement with Weyerhaeuser and WSU and received approximately 47 acres of the forest.

The original plan was to develop trails and parkland in that area, and even a YMCA or other community center, although those plans eventually fell through.

The 2009 agreement was only approved by the City Council due to an amendment prohibiting a traffic light from being installed at the intersection of 204 Avenue East and the highway.

On Sept. 16, 2014, the city re-amended the agreement and voted 4-3 to install a light at that intersection.

The council believed a light at the intersection would help attract big box retailers to develop on the 35 acres Weyerhaeuser set aside for commercial development, as a traffic light would allow drivers traveling west into Bonney Lake to turn left into the lot.

However, it was unknown at the time whether the Department of Transportation would approve the light.

A 2005 email from the DOT to the city was shared at City Council meetings during traffic light discussions. The email revealed the DOT was unwilling to approve of a light or barrier removal at the intersection at that time.

The present

According to Vodopich, the city received the DOT’s plan of approval for the light at the 204th Avenue East intersection in the middle of last June.

“The plan for approval is essentially the DOTs approval saying, yes we will approve the signal at that location, provided we do x, y, and z,” he said.

The DOT’s stipulations included syncing the new light with the other six lights between 192 Avenue East and 214 Avenue East and connect the parking lots of the future commercial area with the already established Tall Firs Regal Theatre parking lot.

As to who is looking at settling down in that area, Vodopich said it’s anyone’s guess.

What we do know is Visconsi Company out of Ohio is contracted by WSU and Weyerhaeuser to develop the commercial portion of the forest.

The city met with Visconsi in July 2014 to discuss the development of the 225 thousand square feet of retail development, but, “They’ve only said they want big box retailers at this time,” Vodopich said.

Costello said 2016 is the tentative closing date for the commercial section of the forest.

The 67 acre portion of forest earmarked for residential development is in the same boat. The original plan to develop 415 single family units behind the Safeway fell through, Vodopich said, and WSU and Weyerhaeuser are still deciding what company will develop the residential section.

Bonney Lake does have a concept plan for the Midtown Park, which was drafted last May by the Parks Ad Hoc Committee and was presented to the City Council for discussion on July 21.

The concept plan for the Midtown park includes three multi-use fields behind the cinema, next to a picnic area and tennis and basketball courts.

During a 2010 survey, Bonney Lake residents ranked multi-use sports fields as the top recreational need for the city.

The plan for the entire eastern half of the field is to develop an 18-hole frisbee golf course and a mile and a half of trails.

Having more trails was the item ranked most highly overall by residents during the same 2010 survey.

In the western corner there are plans for an amphitheater and stage close to some parking lots.

 

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