Officials expand Auburn Environmental Park

Phase 2 of the Auburn Environmental Park recently grew by more than 30 acres.

A recent transfer and exchange between the City of Auburn and the Washington State Department of Transportation of 48.24 acres west of State Route 167 and south of 15th Street Northwest caps two years of negotiations, and brings the total Phase 2 property to about 198 acres.

"Long time coming," Public Works Director Dennis Dowdy told a recent meeting of the Planning and Community Development Committee.

According to City documentation, the WSDOT will keep some of the land for future improvements to State Route 167. As part of its acquisition, the WSDOT agreed to bear the cost to move a City sewer line now on Auburn's property, at a present estimated price of about $2 million. The fair market value of the 34.04 acres of state-owned land the City acquired is $680,000, and the fair market value of the City-owned property the state acquired is $789,700. Based on the higher land value of the City-owned property, the State agreed to pay Auburn $109,700 to make up the difference.

City leaders say the Auburn Environmental Park is about creating open space in an urban area while offering opportunities for economic development, water quality improvement, stormwater detention and flood control, fish and wildlife enhancement, public education, and recreation, including hiking trails and bird viewing amenities. Located near West main, and the Interurban Trail, Phase 1 of the site offers a birdwatching tower and a recently opened boardwalk.

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