Wellington Hills Park is the tranquil expanse of rolling hills and copses of skyscraping trees that begins its 104-acre stretch just out of the city of Woodinville’s limits in South Snohomish County. The area operated as a 9-hole golf course for over eighty years prior to being sold. The property itself has been owned by the University of Washington, Snohomish County and now it belongs to the Northshore School District (NSD).
NSD wants to put a school on the property but the same interested parties that blocked the development of a massive sports complex years ago are in the midst of another stonewall. Their reasoning has not changed: they simply would like to keep the area a place where the community can embrace the fresh air, run with their dogs, or sit under the autumn leaves of a maple with a view of more trees and less buildings. The population is growing in the region but any middle or high school would demand students to be bussed into the area that would need infrastructure improvements to be safe and reliable.
The NSD’s 2018-2024 Capital Facilities Plan states, “The Wellington property is located in Snohomish County, adjacent to the Urban Growth Area. In 2015, a purchase and sale agreement was signed and entered into between Snohomish County and Northshore School District, but legal challenges ensued and closing of the property sale was delayed until October 2017. The Parties are in discussion, in hopes of determining a path forward for eventual siting of a school. There is currently no active project at this site, nor are there definitive short or long-term plans for a school siting, at this location.”
NSD would need to have a Capital Bond approved by the voters to begin any construction on the site. The next Capital Bond will be presented to voters in 2022. NSD will select projects to be included on that bond in 2021 through the work of the NSD Capital Bond Task Force.
A local community group, Neighbors to Save Wellington Park (NTSWP), is still trying to stop the development of the property. NTSWP has operated on a very modest budget since it was first formed in 2013. They were the responsible party for stopping the industrial sports complex just a few years ago. Treasurer of NTSWP, Michael O’Grady said, “We’re all for a real park. One-hundred years from now everything’s going to built up from here. The city’s interested; now it’s time to get the citizens interested.” O’Grady believes that with enough support, the people that cherish the park for its unique natural wonders can gift the park to future generations by leaving the area largely untouched. Amid the bulldozers and concrete of the seemingly endless construction, this patch of pristine land means much more to a community that identifies with the region’s bucolic charm. “If we can get enough funds to save this treasured open space as a city park, people will no doubt look back with fondness on the visionary citizens of the City of Woodinville,” said O’Grady.
The city of Woodinville has approved spending over six-figures through in legal fees trying to ensure the park stays as is. The city had sought $10 million in state money to buy the land but was turned down by the Legislature. The property is currently outside Woodinville city limits.
The public is urged to attend City Council meetings in Woodinville occurring the first, second, and third Tuesdays of each month at 7:00 P.M. (Woodinville City Hall, 17301-133 Road Avenue NE, Woodinville, WA 98072)