The Steilacoom Historical School District School Board voted unanimously on July 14 to approve the proposed sale of surplus land behind Cherrydale Primary to the Pierce County Conservation Futures. The sale price is for its full appraised value of $380,000, which is $120,000 more than the SHSD anticipated. State law requires that the SHSD use the sale proceeds for capital improvements in the SHSD schools rather than for operation costs.
The School Board designated the four-acre wooded area, which is between Cherrydale and the Public Works building, as surplus property in 2007.
Cherrydale Woods is classified as part of the Chambers Creek Aquifer and County Wetlands in the Pierce County Critical Areas Maps. A nature trail runs through the woods.
The Pierce County Conservation Futures is a land preservation program administered by Pierce County. After Conservation Futures purchases Cherrydale Woods, the land will be deeded to the Town of Steilacoom and permanently preserved as open space.
It has been almost four years since Steilacoom residents Gary and Karen Duggins, along with French Wetmore, founded the Friends of Cherrydale Woods when they were concerned that the acreage might be sold to developers. The group applied to the Conservation Futures to preserve the land, and presented their case to its advisory committee last July. The advisory committee forwarded its recommendations to the Pierce County Council, which then reviewed them and prioritized the proposals. According to the Duggins, Cherrydale Woods was one of 22 properties that were considered for preservation by Conservation Futures.
There are plans to hold a public barbecue in August to celebrate the preservation of Cherrydale Woods. The event will also celebrate the protection of the 18 acres next to Saltar’s Point Elementary as open space. The land by Saltar’s was purchased by Conservation Futures a few years ago, and then deeded to the Town of Steilacoom. The exact date of the barbecue hasn’t been determined yet.