Elaborate deal turns Maury Mine into a park


by Gary Chittim, KING 5 News


Posted on November 10, 2010 at 7:52 PM

SEATTLE -- For the last decade a dark legal cloud has hung over a stretch of Maury Island waterfront. But Wednesday, the sun came out.

A deal was announced that put to rest a major dispute over plans to resume mining at the site. The owner of an old sand and gravel mine touched off a major dispute when it announced plans to reactivate the mine.

Cal/Portland was challenged at every turn in the process to build a dock and barge sand and gravel from the 250 acre mine. Opponents declared the area was an environmental gem, one of the last remaining stretches of waterfront that protected native plants, fish and other marine life.

There were lawsuits and more were expected. But King County Executive Dow Constantine announced Wednesday the deal which gathers funds from several sources to buy the site outright from Cal/Portland for $36 million. 

County number crunchers say no general fund dollars were used. This is how they broke down the funding:

  • $14.5 from a state settlement over the contaminated ASARCO smelter sites.
  • $19.1 million in King County Conservation Futures Funds which are set aside for the sole use of  land purchases.
  • $2.4 million for extending and enhancing leases to Cal/Portland for existing mining at another part of the island.

Cal/Portland officials say they agreed to the terms but warned it comes with deadlines. The money must come together by the end of the year or the deal is off. Dealmakers are confident they can pull it off.

The Cascade Land Conservancy, People for Puget Sound, Preserve Our Islands, Vashon-Maury Island Land Trust and Washington Environmental Council all promise funds and expertise to help make it happen.