A grassy, downtown plot of land will be dramatically transformed, courtesy of a plan now winding its way through public/private channels.
At the center of City Hall talks is the parcel sitting directly behind the Enumclaw library. The land is owned by the city and is generally unused, except for the few souls who seasonally till small parcels in what is affectionately known as the “pea patch.”
Members of the City Council were briefed again during their Feb. 24 session, hearing of plans that would see the land transformed into a parking lot and a downtown distillery. All supported plans detailed by City Attorney Mike Reynolds, who has been in talks with the owner of ThunderDome Car Museum, which sits across the street from the vacant parcel.
Reynolds explained that the museum owner wants to use the city land for a parking lot, to meet his needs when hosting special events. When there is not an event at ThunderDome, the lot would be open for public use. Museum ownership would pay for construction of the parking lot, Reynolds said, and the city would provide ongoing maintenance.
Talks initially involved using just a portion of the available land, Reynolds told the council on the 24th, but plans now call for paving all the way to the library. Council members were unopposed to the change.
Reynolds said there would be no cash transaction between Enumclaw and ThunderDome ownership because the city would benefit from the additional parking.
The land under consideration is bordered by Railroad Street on one side and Kasey Kahne Drive on the other, with Washington Avenue on the north.
The corner of Washington and Railroad would be the new home of Pursuit Distillery, which now makes its home in the industrial area on the north end of Cole Street.
Reynolds said Pursuit would be a “sub-lessee” of ThunderDome.
Referring to the distillery building, Reynolds has seen preliminary designs and appears impressed. “Its a beautiful facility and I think it’ll be a great addition to the community,” the attorney told the council.
As part of the proposed agreement, Pursuit will pay a ground lease to the city. But payments will be waived for three years, Reynolds said, allowing the business to get settled in its new location.
Reynolds addressed the potential of the city someday wanting to build on the lot, noting that ThunderDome is willing to work with that possibility. Should the city want to put up a municipal building, museum ownership will pay to tear up the required pavement.
Council members also raised questions about the flow between the new parking lot and the existing lot sandwiched between the library and Railroad Street. Reynolds offered assurance steps would be taken to assure a proper flow between the two.
Council comments were all positive, with just a couple of questions raised.
One issue was the pea patch, which allows citizens to claim small parcels of land and grow their own crops. For a small fee, the city offers the ground and water.
The pea patch is overseen by the city’s Parks and Recreation Department. Michelle Larson, the department head in charge, said participation has dwindled in recent years.
The pea patch currently is home to 24 plots, she said. These days, perhaps 17 are reserved and “maybe seven to nine of those are worked,” she said.
The city is not taking pea patch applications for this summer, but council members noted other accommodations could be possible.
Councilman Chance La Fleur backed the proposal without hesitation. “I’m in full support of this project and i think it’ll be awesome for the city,” he said.
Kael Johnson called the plan “a no-brainer.”
“Everyone always says we need more parking. Well, here we go,” Johnson said. Reiterating that someone else would be paying for the paving, he called the plan “great for our city, great for the community and I can’t wait to see it.”