King County finalizes deal with Glacier, takes posession of mine site

Those close to the effort to stop Glacier Northwest’s mining expansion on Maury Island celebrated Thursday as King County finalized the $36 million purchase of Glacier’s 250-acre parcel.

In a press release announcing the closing of the deal, King County Executive Dow Constantine reflected on the 13-year struggle to keep the once-small mine from significantly expanding its operation and gave credit to those who were there during the many twists and turns, setbacks and breakthroughs in the battle against Glacier.

“The heroes of this long battle are too numerous to mention: tenacious Vashon/Maury residents; courageous elected officials; skilled, public-minded lawyers; dedicated environmental donors and leaders,” he said. “Some are here to celebrate, some no longer with us. Every one was critical in securing this victory for the Sound and future generations.”

He added a special thanks to Sen. Sharon Nelson (D-Maury Island), whom, he said, “worked tirelessly to secure the state funds that were necessary to finalize this acquisition.”

Amy Carey, head of Preserve Our Islands (POI), the grassroots organization that formed to fight the expansion, said that although she didn’t doubt the deal would close Thursday, she and the others at POI were still thrilled to finally see the sale completed.

She said that the end of the battle will require shift in psyche for those at POI, many of whom have worked daily for the past decade or more to fight the mine’s expansion. “I think we’re all a little blissfully shell-shocked,” she said.

Carey added that the POI had even more reason to celebrate Thursday, as it met its local fundraising goal, garnering $500,000 from Vashon donors.

“It’s just remarkable,” Carey said. “We came forward and gave this community an incredibly audacious goal. … That they met that goal is a remarkable feat and a really remarkable example of how phenomenal this community is.”

The local conservation community is still in the process of raising $2 million towards the purchase price, the amount conservation leaders promised when the deal was struck last month.

The Cascade Land Conservancy (CLC), which helped negotiate the purchase and sale agreement, will continue to head efforts to raise the remaining $1.5 million, only a fraction of which they have raised so far.

Michelle Connor, CLC’s executive vice president, said she was delighted to see the deal close last week and is hopeful they can wrap up fundraising in the next month.

“There are a lot of requests for donations out. … We’re going to keep plugging away at it,” she said.

A celebration sponsored by POI, complete with food and live music, is planned for this weekend on Vashon. County Executive Dow Constantine and Washington’s Public Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark are expected to attend.

Carey said the party will now be even sweeter knowing Islanders have completed their portion of the fundraising.

“We are completely thrilled and are looking forward to celebrating with everyone,” she said.

A party celebrating the purchase of the Glacier Northwest mine site will be held at 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 8, at the Open Space for Arts & Community. Food will be served and music provided. Admission is free.

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