Proposed Tracyton watershed land sale put on hold

The proposed sale of a 38-acre parcel, which was formerly part of the Tracyton watershed, by the city of Bremerton appears to be on hold at least until January 2006.

The city received an offer to purchase the property from Bealko, Inc., for $2.9 million in November and the issue was brought before the City Council at its Dec. 22 meeting.

The property is within an urban growth area for the city and is designated as low density residential, said Chris Hugo, Bremerton director of community development.

However, several residents near the property spoke out against its development and asked the Council to consider preserving it as a wildlife area.

“Once we destroy what we will destroy in this project, we can’t take it back,” said William Radford, who owns property adjacent to the site.

Numerous deer, pheasants, coyotes and other wildlife inhabit the area, and at least one stream runs through it, Radford said.

“The Council is charged with the responsibility for improving life and encouraging development for its own sake,” he said.

If the city wants to do something with the property, Radford asked the Council to consider making it like the wilderness area along Sylvan Way.

Councilman Brad Gehring, who represents the area, said he used to play where many of the residents at the meeting currently live.

“I would like to have that in my backyard too,” Gehring said. “We need to look at what our options are in this.”

If the property cannot be used as a commercial forest, then it must be a park, Councilman Mike Shepherd said.

“If it’s a park, we have to figure out how to pay for it,” Shepherd said. “It has a public cost as it is and we have to deal with that.”

Councilman Will Maupin said the sale of the property could provide relief to the city’s water utility.

“The money from this sale would go into the utility and would reduce the amount of money taxpayers would have to pay,” Maupin said.

The Council approved utility rate increases in September, and the sale of the property could help offset those increases, he said.

Development of the property would also help preserve open areas in the county, he said.

“The majority of growth needs to go into urban growth areas to preserve areas like this in the county,” Maupin said. “We have to build houses in areas like this to preserve other open areas.”

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