Land swap increases size of Game Farm Park

The City of Auburn and the State Department of Parks recently wrapped up a land swap.

Auburn came out of the deal with 4.7 additional acres of land to fatten up Game Farm Park on the City's southeast end, and the state got some commercial property the City had owned at 810 20th St. NE.

Auburn City Council members approved the transfer May 21.

Auburn's latest acquisition is at the corner of R Street and Riverwalk Drive, that is, the section between Game Farm Park's tennis courts and the street corner.

"We haven't master planned what we're going to do with the new area yet, whether it'll be increased park use or park maintenance use," said Daryl Faber, director of Auburn's Parks, Arts and Recreation Department.

In 1981 the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission acquired the property from the Department of Game (now Fish and Wildlife) as part of what was then the 165-acre Auburn Game Farm. The site became the headquarters for the Puget Sound Regional Office of Washington State Parks.

In 1984, the parks commission leased 160.3 acres of the property, minus the 4.7 acres, to the City for use as a city park. In 2006, the commission transferred the fee interest to the City.

But when state parks, faced with budget constraints consolidated its operations, it vacated the property in 2009, leaving an empty quonset-hut-style building and a second building where its planners had worked.

Amid state chatter of auctioning its holding off and a potential rezoning of it into a non-park use, the City acted.

The 4.7-acre parcel had been included in the original plan when the City acquired the park, but it didn't take the corner because the state was using it.

"We've worked on this for a few years now, so it's a good one to have done," Faber said.

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