Park district to ask voters for bond to buy Waterman Property

South Whidbey Parks and Recreation commissioners will be turning to voters in November for help saving a trail system.

On Tuesday, board members voted unanimously to put a five-year, $379,000 bond on the ballot. The tax rate would be approximately 2 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value, meaning someone with a $400,000 home would see an estimated $7.39 increase in annual property taxes.

The 40 acres of land, known as the Waterman Property, is owned by several members of the Waterman family. The family members have expressed interest in selling and have said they want to get another appraisal. The cost is approximately $600,000 for two 20-acre parcels, and commissioners and Park Director Doug Coutts said at Tuesday’s meeting they feared the price tag would inflate if they wait to act until after the appraisal.

One of the property owners told the district that if the levy was successful, she would reduce the price by $20,000, Coutts said.

The Waterman Property is located behind the primary school on Maxwelton Road and has trails that cross over it from the adjacent wooded property owned by the school.

The park district obtained a $281,000 grant for the purchase of the property and recently submitted an application for another grant. It’s possible that taxpayers would either see their taxes decrease slightly over time or it would shorten the term of the bond if the second grant is awarded to the district, Coutts said. The second grant won’t be announced until next year.

If the property is secured, it’s likely the district would eventually build out the trails on it, Coutts said. There’s no road access, but people can reach it by foot from the primary school or from the district parking lot across the street.

“We’re looking at preserving the property right now and then proceeding with additional options,” he said.

The Waterman family also previously owned another parcel now owned by the Whidbey Camano Land Trust. Known as the Waterman Shoreline Preserve, the piece of land is located on Wilkinson Road.

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