September 21, 1998
A history of the Sammamish Valley sportsfields
Here's a refresher for those who do not remember the history of sportsfields in Sammamish Valley.
On April 9, 1986, there was a Seattle Times headline "County land transfer angers soccer fans," with a subline of "Deal between agencies cuts off proposal to build 15 soccer fields."
The land referred to was known as 60 Acres West, which lay on the west side of the Sammamish River across from the main 60 Acres Park on the east side.
After reserving a riverside strip for the west-side Sammamish River Trail (about which the Times article quoted a parks department spokesman as saying "The department's first priority is to complete a trail on the west side of the river so that cyclists, pedestrians and horseriders can be separated..." - ha ha, 12 years later ), the parks department transferred the remaining 37+ acres to the agriculture section which kept the development rights and later sold the land to Farmer Muller at $2,000+/acre.
There was no competitive bidding nor notice for that sale, not even to the soccer association whose expansion plans were known to the county.
The irony of the situation is that after selling development rights to his main farm, Farmer Muller quit farming. (It should be noted that, contrary to claims, there is no number one classified ag soil in the Sammamish Valley according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture soil surveys.)
It's also ironic that despite King County's professed desire to keep ag land's sales prices low and affordable to entry-level farmers, the $53,000/acre it paid for Kaplan's Sammamish Valley parcel is unheard-of high for zoned ag land, especially in contrast to the $2,000+/acre it sold the 60 Acres West land to Farmer Muller for.
If King County loses its appeal to put sportsfields on the Kaplan ag lands, one could say justice is served. If back in 1986 King County had sold 60 Acres West to the soccer association for the athletic fields for which it was zoned, instead of turning it into preserved ag lands which now sit idle, perhaps none of the recent history of law suits and petitions and astounding ag-land sales prices would have happened.
Maxine Keesling, Woodinville