Seattle Press
Ravenna Springs
Savvy Neighbors Delay Clearcut of Ravenna Woods
In an August tour of Ravenna Woods, Mayor Paul Schell told members of the Ravenna Springs community he would help them acquire the site as a park. The Mayor said that condemnation might be necessary to take the property off Roberts' hands.
Neighbors won an important victory in an ongoing battle to save Ravenna Woods from the chainsaw when the Department of Design, Land Use and Construction (DCLU) decided that an Issaquah developer's application for a permit to build nine congregate residences will require an Environmental Impact Statement. Quoting state environmental policy chapter and verse, the University community forced DCLU to play by its own rules and issue the decision. The argument neighbors made that development of the 1.1 acre site would potentially do great harm to both the neighborhood and the natural environment was a key factor in DCLU's decision to require an EIS from Roberts Properties.

The decision gives Friends of Ravenna Woods, a newly-incorporated non-profit organization, some much-needed time to advance their effort to acquire the property for a park. Acquisition of Ravenna Woods is a "key strategy" of the Ravenna Urban Village neighborhood plan, designated such by City Council because of the site's value as a natural area. Ravenna Woods is a remnant forest of alder, oso cherry and big-leaf maple west of University Village and the Burke-Gilman trail.

The city, according to Friends member Laura Dixon-Dyvbad, has completed an appraisal of the property, assessing its value at $800,000. Roberts Properties has made its own appraisal and puts the value at $1.1 million. Roberts Properties acquired the property in June for $540,000 from Balfour Properties, which purchased the property for $350,000, also in June.

In an August tour of Ravenna Woods, the Mayor said the city would exercise its power of condemnation, if necessary, to acquire the property. The Mayor has allotted $250,000 toward acquisition of the site in his recently proposed budget, released September 27. Friends of Ravenna Woods has collected $400,000 already toward purchase of the site; they intend to ask the Department of Neighborhoods for a $300,000 matching grant, and they are actively seeking donations from members of the community.

A public meeting on the environmental impacts and issues that should be addressed in the EIS will be held Monday, October 11 at 6:30 p.m. at University Heights Community Center. For more information, contact Laura Dixon-Dyvbad at 524-3926.