By RICHARD WALKER
and SOPHIE BONOMI
North Kitsap Herald
POULSBO — The initial investment is $1. What that investment will yield will last for generations.
The Poulsbo City Council voted unanimously on March 4 to purchase a flood-prone parcel alongside a portion of the south fork of Dogfish Creek, at 19159 8th Ave. The city will remove the house, restore the portion of salmon-bearing stream that flows across the property and, at some point, will replace the culvert through which the creek flows under 8th Avenue.
The house and property are over the creek from Coffee Oasis and the city public works yard, the latter of which also floods. Public Works is moving its yard to Viking Way.
The property is one-third acre and gravel on the site indicates that, historically, the creek flowed freely here. The two-story home was moved onto the site, possibly in the 1950s, and over the years the property owner and city Public Works Department found themselves working to protect the home from heavy seasonal flows. The Public Works Department lined the creek with sandbags that are visible on the site today.
Repeated flooding, and a conversion into a duplex without permits, made the home and property unsellable. In an earlier interview, the listing agent, Ruth deMille of Coldwell Banker Bain, called the property “definitely the worst piece of real estate I have listed in a long time.”
“I think the best thing would be for the city to turn it into the park, restore it to its natural state. Something like that would be beautiful.”
The Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, or Freddie Mac, which repossessed the property last year, couldn’t even sell it at auction.
“I, along with the mayor, have been calling [Freddie Mac] repeatedly in hopes of acquiring this land and, finally, they have heard our pleas,” city Risk Manager Kylie Purves said.
Freddie Mac offered the property to the city for $1.
Acquiring the site has been a long-time goal of the city.
“Wow! This was one of the first topics of discussion when I came to the council in 2007,” former council member Linda Berry-Maraist said. “This is hugely important for numerous environmental issues, and opens the door to do all the right things.”
Council member Connie Lord said, “This is an opportunity to help Dogfish Creek. This is a great solution and I’m happy we had the opportunity to acquire this property.”
The south fork of Dogfish Creek starts on Caldart Avenue near the Poulsbo Gardens neighborhood. It flows east to Wilderness Park, where more water springs out of the ground. Near this site is a concrete catchment system, the remnants of Poulsbo’s earliest water utility.
The creek flows south under Highway 305 and 8th Avenue, past 19159 8th Ave., then heads west behind Centennial Park and along 305 to the main stem, which flows out to Liberty Bay.
The city and other entities, including the Suquamish Tribe, have long worked to restore Dogfish Creek as salmon habitat. Acquisition of this property is within that goal.
Mayor Becky Erickson said the house will be offered to anyone willing to move it from the site. If there is no taker, the city will demolish it, at an estimated cost of $50,000.
Erickson said the house has to go so the site can be restored to prevent future flooding and improve stream flow.
Not a done deal
Those in attendance at the meeting were enthusiastic about the acquisition, leading Erickson to caution, “This is not a done deal yet. We still have to do our due diligence, receive the clean title, and have the contract signed.”
She expected the contract to be signed possibly this week.
She said the community will probably not see activity on the property, such as removal of the house, for four or five months.
“Our staff is incredibly busy at this time, but if I could see improvements on the 8th Avenue [site] in the next few months, I would be happy.”