Enumclaw School District buys land for future school sites

The land, owned by Oakpointe, cost the district $6.5 million in school mitigation fees.

The Enumclaw School District recently bought 11 acres in Black Diamond for $6.5 million, preparing the way for two additional schools to be built in the growing city.

The December 2020 purchase was between the district and Oakpointe, the developer of the Ten Trails and Lawson Hills developments, which are poised to more than quadruple the size of Black Diamond at full buildout.

Four parcels were purchased — two in the heart of Ten Trails between SE Dogwood Street and SE Evergreen Street (parcels 8576000820 and 8576000830) and two in Larson Hills across town, just northeast of McKay Lane off Larson Street (parcels 1321069054 and 1321069036).

According to ESD’s Director of Business and Operations Kyle Fletcher, the land the district bought was previously agreed on by both parties in a school mitigation agreement.

“The plan is to build future schools on these sites. The Ten Trails site will likely be an elementary school building,” Fletcher wrote in an email interview. “The Lawson Hills site is currently contemplated as a future elementary school site but will be re-evaluated as time progresses to assess our student numbers and capacity needs within the two development areas.”

In other words, the district may decide that building a new middle school — on land already reserved within Ten Trails — may need to be constructed before that Lawson Hills elementary school, all depending on how Black Diamond’s population grows in the coming years.

“Planning and development of these sites would not begin until we enter a bond planning phase, which we have not yet begun,” Fletcher added.

The $6.5 million the district spent on the land purchase came from homes built in Oakpointe’s housing developments though the school mitigation agreement.

“Each home built within the master plan development area (Ten Trails and Lawson Hills) requires the developer to pay a mitigation fee to the district,” Fletcher said. “That money has been and will continue to be set aside for the sole purpose of acquiring these school sites when specific thresholds set forth in the School Mitigation Agreement (including the total home buildout) are reached.”

Fletcher added that ESD will not be required to pay any additional money on top of the received mitigation fees for any Oakpointe land, even if the mitigation fees add up to less than the land’s actual value, and that no federal, state, or local tax dollars are being used on these land purchases.

Oakpointe has set aside a total of five sites for future schools, and land for an auxiliary school facility, within its developments for ESD.