Renton School District hoping to sell forested properties
By TRACEY COMPTON
Renton Reporter Staff writer
November 8, 2012 · 11:11 AM
Noticing a turnaround in the housing market, the Renton School District has started the process to sell several pieces of undeveloped land the district owns.
However, the district faces some opposition in the Tiffany Park neighborhood from people who don’t want to see about 20 acres of land become single-family homes.
The district is planning public community meetings and hearings on the topic throughout the month.
“We wanted to start the process to sell the land back in 2008, but, the failing U.S. economy and housing market caused us to change our minds,” wrote Randy Matheson, district spokesperson, in a email.
That isn’t the case anymore and although the district has had no interest from anyone to purchase the land, officials are working with a broker to set the price and make the sales final.
One of the properties is at the north end of the district, near Hazelwood Elementary School and measures about 10 acres. The other is near Tiffany Park Elementary School. The district has owned them both for decades and they are zoned for single-family residences.
The district received a petition with more than 200 signatures from people in the Tiffany Park area who don’t want to see the densely wooded property developed.
“I don’t want to lose the woods,” said Renate Beedon. She is spearheading the opposition with her husband Dave. “And the reason for that is not personal. I don’t want them to cut down this wildlife and this piece of nature here.”
Renate and her husband routinely walk the trails through the forested area with their dogs as do neighbors, they say. Children in the area use the property to build the occasional fort or treehouse. In the summer and on the weekends, there is a group of young men and a few women who play war games with air soft guns in the woods.
“When we walk over there with the dogs, they holler, ‘Civilian, cease fire,’” Renate says laughing. “For years they’ve been doing this.”
The Beedons heard about the sale of the land through a district press release posted on the district’s website. They immediately informed their neighbors, gathered together and decided to officially oppose any development plans.
Renate wants people to know that they aren’t opposed to the sale, just development.
“It’s just a neat place to go and play and visit,” said Dave. “From an adult’s viewpoint there’s some interesting vegetation back there that’s not easy to come by.”
The Beedons have also seen deer, coyote, a bobcat, mountain beavers, woodpeckers, squirrels, birds and a large murder of crows. Some neighbors claim to have seen a bald eagle.
The couple met with Matheson to discuss the sale of the properties recently.
“We had a really nice conversation with him and I think he realized that we’re not against the school,” Renate said of Matheson. “We’re more interested in preserving the woods than anything.”
The Renton School Board will decide whether to move forward with the sale of the properties after the community meetings and public hearings, Matheson said.
“The district will present the board with a proposal to move forward with the sale, as the property is not usable to build a school and holding on to the property is not good business sense or in the best interest of being good stewards of taxpayer dollars,” Matheson said.
The School Board will make its decision on Dec. 12 at its regularly scheduled meeting. If approved, the district will work with an outside broker to sell the properties.
In the meantime, the Beedons are exploring the possibility of raising enough money to purchase the land with the help of others. They have talked to different environmental organizations and they’ve contacted the City of Renton. They heard back quickly from the Mayor’s Office, saying the city doesn’t have the funds to purchase the property or plans to do so.
From assessment records, the Beedons have reviewed the property close to Tiffany Park and it is valued around a million dollars.
“We’re learning you know,” said Dave Beedon. “We don’t really know what can be done. We’re just putting our feelers out and hoping to find something that works.”
Meetings, hearings on property sale
WHAT: The Renton School District plans to sell its land near Tiffany Park and Hazelwood Elementary schools
WHEN: 6 p.m., Nov. 14, Tiffany Park Elementary School Gym, 1601 Lake Youngs Way S.E., Renton
6 p.m., Nov. 15, Hazelwood Elementary School library, 7100 116th Ave. S.E., Newcastle
7 p.m., Nov. 27, District Administrative Offices, 300 S.W. Seventh St., Renton
7 p.m., Nov. 29, District Administrative Offices, 300 S.W. Seventh Str.Contact Renton Reporter Staff writer Tracey Compton at email@example.com or 425-255-3484, ext. 5052.