King County and Kitsap County both recently expanded their parks, thanks to generous donations from a few individuals.
In Seattle, Schmitz Park gained 5,000 square feet currently occupied by a small, single-family house. In north Kistap County, the Port Gamble Forest secured 1,500 new acres in a purchase funded by community members, local partners, and foundations.
We’re all about green space and protecting our environment, and we’re proud of the amazing people who made these generous donations!
Schmitz Park preserves an old-growth forest tucked away in Alki. It’s a hidden and beautiful green space, minus the 5,000-ft residential lot that takes up one corner of the park—the only parcel on the block that’s not part of Schmitz Park. The lot holds a two-bedroom fixer-upper, which in turn holds 72-year-old Bruce Stotler, who has lived there since 1980. Even though the house would likely be a tear-down if it went on the market, it was assessed at $473,000 last year.
Bruce Stotler declined the opportunity to put his house on the market and walk away with a profound return on investment (he bought the house for $74,000). Instead, he sold his home directly to the city for $225,000—less than half its value. The $225,000 is just enough to cover Stotler’s expenses. The only string Stotler attached to the sale was that he gets to stay in his home for the rest of his days before the property gets added to the park.
Had Bruce Stotler not sold/donated his property, it’s likely that the next owners would have torn down the house and replaced it with up to a three-story luxury home overlooking the park. Instead, Seattle expands a beautiful park that can be enjoyed by all.
Port Gamble Forest, just east of the Hood Canal Floating Bridge, will gain 1,500 acres, thanks to $4 million raised by a combination of community members, local partners, foundations, and grants. This finishes a decade-long project and brings the forest up to 4,000 acres conserved for recreation, restoration, cultural heritage, and habitat. Kitsap County is the official owner of this new wilderness haven.
This new park is six times the size of our own Discovery Park. It includes 65 miles of trails, as well as an area that will be developed for mountain biking. Its new protected status will revitalize this land, which has spent the last 160 years being managed for timber production. Over the next 25 years, restoration forestry will change the forest from a commercially driven ecosystem into a healthy, resilient one. More diverse trees will be introduced, and the forest will be allowed to return to a more natural state.