Possession Point joins marine trail

"Former state Rep. Dave Anderson walks the beach in front of the former Elizabeth Albertson house at Possession Point. The state Department of Parks and Recreation purchased the house and the 25 acres of waterfront property it sits on for $1.4 million last week.Matt Johnson / staff photoOne of the first things Dave Anderson tried to do when he was elected to the state legislature nearly five years ago was to convince the state's Parks and Recreation Commission to buy 25 acres of waterfront property lying on the southernmost tip of Whidbey Island.Last week, almost six months after leaving the legislature following his defeat in the 2000 election, Anderson received a phone call from Parks and Recreation Director Cleve Phinnix in which Phinnix told him the $1.4 million property is now in the public's hands.The call was a vindication for Anderson, who pushed the commission through nearly four years of negotiations with property owner Elizabeth Albertson. Having watched the deal stall or fail several times during that period because of the state's unwillingness to pay the $1.8 million asking price, Anderson brought the $1.1 million the state was willing to pay together with a $300,000 Goosefoot Community Fund donation this spring to seal the deal. With that money on the table, the state and Albertson compromised on the selling price and signed closing papers for the purchase Friday.On Thursday, as the deal began to close, Anderson said he was glad to have a hand in the purchase from start to finish.It's my baby as far as I'm concerned, he said. It just had to be in the public's hands.The land is now slated to become part of the state's Cascade Marine Trail, a network of beachfront parks developed specifically for kayakers and canoeists. Anderson said the Albertson property is considered the crown jewel of the trail for its sweeping views and for its easy access to the Edmonds and Seattle areas. With about a half-mile of beachfront and acres of dense forests and spectacular bluffs, the property is unique, even for Whidbey Island. Properly perched, a person sitting atop one of the property's high bluffs can see Possession Point Park, the Olympic Peninsula, the Edmonds waterfront, and the Clinton-Mukilteo ferry run. Anderson, who is familiar with the steep, overgrown deer trails that provide the only access to the property's woods, said the new park could also become an attraction to hikers in search of a challenge. Seven-foot nettles, wild roses, and near-vertical grades keep the forest almost inaccessible now, but some creative trail building could eventually open the park to a wide range of hikers, Anderson said.Anne Hersley, a spokesperson for Parks and Recreation, said Thursday that the department has not looked beyond the park's use as a marine trail stop. At present, the department has no plans for the 1940s beach house that came with the property, nor for the forest and bluff area.Hersley noted the sale did not gel until the commission received the $300,000 commitment from Goosefoot Community Fund. Linda Moore, an attorney who represents the private nonprofit organization, said Anderson asked Goosefoot to help buy the Albertson property when it became clear that Parks and Recreation would not pay the full asking price. She said Goosefoot decided to help because the amount of public beach access on South Whidbey is embarrassingly small. This is not the first time Goosefoot Community Fund has donated to a community park project. Earlier this year, the organization gave $100,000 toward the purchase of the Saratoga woods.Technically, the new park, which is located at the end of Franklin Road, is now open to the public. However, it has no parking facilities, nor has it been marked with official state signage. "

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