Port Townsend approves survey for potential 14-acre property purchase

Posted 12/3/21

The city of Port Townsend is advancing on the purchase of a 14-acre property on Evans Vista as a site for future affordable housing on the Olympic Peninsula.

In early November, city council held a …

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Port Townsend approves survey for potential 14-acre property purchase

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The city of Port Townsend is advancing on the purchase of a 14-acre property on Evans Vista as a site for future affordable housing on the Olympic Peninsula.

In early November, city council held a business meeting and unanimously approved an authorization for City Manager John Mauro to execute an agreement in an amount not to exceed $20,000 with Willamette Cultural Resources Association for a cultural resources survey of the Evans Vista property.

“They’ve worked for the city before. They did the Jefferson Street Project; very familiar with the area,” Public Works Director Steve King said during the business meeting. “They will dig little test pits to look for indicators of cultural resources. They are going to work very efficiently to do the survey and share with us what they find.”

A cultural resources survey involves observing and testing an area and documenting historic resources such as structures, artifacts, and objects within the zone. The Portland-based Willamette Cultural Resources Association will survey the property and submit any discoveries to the city by the end of 2021.

“This is something that also is a requirement of department of commerce,” King said. “As City Manager Mauro and I discussed, it’s also the way that we like to do business to make sure that we’re honoring the heritage of this area.”

Although the city council hasn’t approved the purchase for the property, city staff are completing the final steps before a contract is submitted to the council.

“We anticipate continuing our due diligence over the next month … and presenting a recommendation to city council by Dec. 13,” Mauro said in an email to The Leader.

The city must complete the cultural resources survey, sign a Washington state commerce grant — which would provide most of the funds to subsidize the $1.37 million property purchase — and present a recommendation to city council.

“We want to ensure that before we acquire that project, or before we recommend buying that property, that we have done a thorough job of investigating for cultural resources,” King said.

The land is located south of the West Sims Way and Rainier Street roundabout, and northwest of the paper mill.

Although the area is 14 acres in total, only 8 acres are suitable for development, while the other 6 acres is too steep to build on. The property is zoned for mixed use, which allows for residential housing along with commercial businesses.

In the second phase of the project, if the purchase-and-sale agreement is met and finalized by the Dec. 17 expiration of the contract, the property will need a sewer line before it’s developed.

The land will need a sewer lift station and lines, which would cost approximately $4.1 million, and the infrastructure could be expanded in the future.

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