BELLINGHAM - The city of Bellingham has bought 5.2 acres next to Cordata Park for $275,000.
"It will expand Cordata Park to the north," Leslie Bryson, design and development manager for Bellingham Parks and Recreation Department, said of the acquisition.
The City Council voted Jan. 28 to buy the parcel, which will be home to a new trail segment and could serve as wetlands mitigation for park projects. A picnic area also is a possibility.
Trillium Corp. was the seller. The parcel is between the existing park boundary and Birchwood Presbyterian Church.
Money for the purchase came from the current Greenways III fund and through the park site acquisition fund.
In 2007, the city bought 20 wooded acres where Horton Road now ends to create the neighborhood park and trails for an area of the city that had neither.
Whatcom County later deeded an additional seven acres of open space next to the original 20 acres for the park, which also will serve as a greenway corridor.
Cordata is a much-desired neighborhood park in north Bellingham, which has undergone significant growth in the past 20 years.
There's been some development of the park, although Bryson said not much can be done until Horton Road is extended west into the park to serve as the primary access.
"We can't do the full development until the road goes in," Bryson said.
As for the Horton extension, it isn't going to happen until the city comes up with another $4 million for the $5.3 million project.
And thats for a quarter-mile section of arterial street, said Chris Comeau, transportation planner with the Public Works Department, adding that it requires construction to cross a fish-bearing stream and wetlands mitigation.
The road's environmental impact will require that wetlands be preserved and enhanced on five acres the city bought on Northwest Avenue for that purpose.
In July, the city received $500,000 in federal money for preliminary engineering and design but hasn't been able to secure grants to pay for the remaining $4 million - in part because the road project isn't seen as a job creator and is, therefore, not as competitive as other applications, according to Comeau.
What's been built so far at Cordata Park is a 3,000-foot trail that winds through a wooded area, a connector trail and a 36-foot bridge over part of a wetland.
The Parks Department still has some money from the first phase of development of the park, so it is proceeding with prep work for an area that's being called the "great lawn," according to Bryson.
If enough money remains, a short trail that would skirt the side of the lawn and create a loop by tying in to an existing trail also would be built - possibly next year. (This would be on the original 20 acres the city bought.)
The purchase of 5.2 acres was welcome news to Julianna Guy, a Cordata resident who formed a committee in summer 2005 to protest the lack of parks in her neighborhood.
"I'm delighted to learn about it," said Guy, who also is on the city's Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. "We've been waiting for some time for the Parks Department and Trillium to finalize this negotiation."
She hoped a picnic area could go into the new parcel, saying that there wasn't a public place for families to gather for a picnic north of Interstate 5 in Bellingham.
"Not one, anywhere north of the freeway," Guy said. "We're hoping that very soon the Parks Department will be able to do the work to establish that."
Additional information about Cordata Park and plans for its development as laid out by the 2008 master plan are online at this cob.org webpage.
Click here to see a schematic map of the plan for Cordata Park.
Reach KIE RELYEA at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 715-2234.