Former Glacier site will likely benefit from county’s new parks foundation

The Maury Island open space formerly owned by Glacier Northwest will likely see funds for restoration and improvement from a new county parks foundation, King County announced last week.

On April 9, King County Parks announced it has established a new foundation with a $75,000 initial gift from a Seattle wealth management firm. The parks agency, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, hopes to grow the foundation to $7.5 million over the next decade, largely with gifts from the private sector.

The county has already identified the 250-acre Maury Island site it purchased from Glacier Northwest in 2010 as one of seven priority projects it hopes to funnel foundation money into in the coming years. The property, which the county has designated as a natural area, contains large madrone stands, sweeping views of the water and one of the largest undeveloped shorelines in all of Puget Sound.

King County Parks spokesman Doug Williams said it was too soon to tell when  the site would see foundation funding —or even if it definitely will — as officials are just in the beginning stages of fundraising. Other priority projects identified by Parks include enhancing Tanner Landing Park near Mt. Si in North Bend, investing in and preserving new open space and creating a 16-mile non-motorized trail connecting Lake Washington and Puget Sound

“There isn’t a large pot of money yet, and there certainly is no plan in place yet for how to expend the funds,” Williams said.

A committee tasked with looking at King County Parks’ future in 2002 recommended that the agency establish a foundation to ensure long-term financial stability and to invest in large-scale projects as the region continues to grow.

The foundation came to fruition this year with a $75,000 seed donation from Laird Norton Wealth Management, a business founded in 1967 by descendants of early Seattle business partners William Harris Larid and his cousins, Matthew G. Norton and James Laird Norton.

The county’s Department of Natural Resources and Parks is currently working with the state Department of Ecology to develop a cleanup plan for the Maury Island site, which is tainted with arsenic and lead from the historic Tacoma Smelter Plume. The county is also finalizing plans to eventually install some limited amenities, such as picnic tables and a parking lot, at the site. Officials have also suggested the former mining site, which is full of Scotch broom and blackberry, would benefit from environmental restoration similar to work currently taking place at the nearby Maury Island Aquatic Park.

“There’s so much work to be done at the Maury Island site and on so many different levels,” Williams said.


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