Land along Donkey Creek might be developed into 40 homes. Gig Harbor wants to preserve it

·3 min read

For the second time in recent months, Gig Harbor is looking to buy undeveloped property to preserve it.

“We have a chance of buying 23 acres of beautiful land, that’s just about four blocks off from the bay at Donkey Park,” Mayor Kit Kuhn said at the Nov. 22 council meeting, during which he showed a video of the property. “... It’s 23 acres that actually has not been built on before.”

That’ll change if the city doesn’t buy it.

Kuhn said more than 40 homes would be built relatively soon on the property, which is across from the Puerto Vallarta Restaurant along Burnham Drive.

“Then it’s lost forever,” he said at the meeting. “But the owners of the property would rather sell to us and preserve it than have it turned into housing.”

“We have a chance of buying 23 acres of beautiful land, that’s just about four blocks off from the bay at Donkey Park,” Mayor Kit Kuhn said at the Nov. 22 council meeting, during which he showed a video of the property. “... It’s 23 acres that actually has not been built on before.”
“We have a chance of buying 23 acres of beautiful land, that’s just about four blocks off from the bay at Donkey Park,” Mayor Kit Kuhn said at the Nov. 22 council meeting, during which he showed a video of the property. “... It’s 23 acres that actually has not been built on before.”

The city has entered into a purchase sale agreement, Kuhn said, and has until Dec. 28 to fulfill it.

“We’re doing our due diligence,” Kuhn said at the meeting. “... We are doing the full appraisal to figure out what it actually is worth.”

Mayor-elect Tracie Markley also spoke in favor of the purchase.

“It is truly beautiful,” Markley said at the meeting. “... The trail is very easy to maintain, there’s a beautiful wooden bridge. It’s just really lovely.”

“It is truly beautiful,” Mayor-elect Tracie Markley said at the meeting. “... The trail is very easy to maintain, there’s a beautiful wooden bridge. It’s just really lovely.”
“It is truly beautiful,” Mayor-elect Tracie Markley said at the meeting. “... The trail is very easy to maintain, there’s a beautiful wooden bridge. It’s just really lovely.”

Given other new developments slated for Burnham Drive and traffic issues already present in the area, she said, “I would love to not see another 40-plus houses be built right there.”

Gig Harbor has entered into a purchase sale agreement to preserve 23 acres of undeveloped land that Mayor Kit Kuhn said the owners will otherwise develop into more than 40 homes.
Gig Harbor has entered into a purchase sale agreement to preserve 23 acres of undeveloped land that Mayor Kit Kuhn said the owners will otherwise develop into more than 40 homes.

Tracey Perkosky, executive director of Key Pen Parks, said the purchase would be a good thing for the local trail system. The Cushman Trail is about 15 feet from the property.

“Pierce County needs more regional trail connectors,” Perkosky said.

Beyond that, Perkosky said, it’s also “beautiful, pristine habitat.”

Tracey Perkosky, executive director of Key Pen Parks, said the purchase would be a good thing for the local trail system.
Tracey Perkosky, executive director of Key Pen Parks, said the purchase would be a good thing for the local trail system.

Kuhn wrote on his Mayor’s Blog Nov. 22 that “the salmon-bearing North Creek/Donkey Creek,” runs through the property, and that it’s “part of the original sx̌ʷəbabs village” — a branch of the Puyallup Tribe.

“The property has never been built on, so large natural cedars, maples, firs, and pines are unaltered, there is an existing primitive road/trail,” Kuhn wrote. “This property is composed of six separate parcels and unless we conserve it, work is currently underway on the process of acquiring permits needed to develop over 40 homes on this land.”

‘For everyone to enjoy’

The land is adjacent to 11.5 acres the city is in the process of purchasing, dubbed the North Creek Salmon Heritage site, north of the city’s wastewater treatment plant. In that case, the owner also approached the city.

The out-of-state family that had inherited the 11.5 acres learned about the history of the land and its connection to the Puyallup Tribe and thought there might be a better use for the property than developing it, The Gateway reported.

The city arranged to pay $500,000 for the property, The Gateway reported, with a grant from the Pierce County Conservation Futures Fund and matching funds from the Puyallup Tribe.

Then recently, the adjacent landowners asked if the city wanted to buy their property as well.

“This open space would be for everyone to enjoy,” Mayor Kit Kuhn wrote on the city’s blog. “I’ve had the opportunity to walk this land and believe it would be a wonderful parcel to retain trees and green spaces as development continues in this area of Gig Harbor North.”
“This open space would be for everyone to enjoy,” Mayor Kit Kuhn wrote on the city’s blog. “I’ve had the opportunity to walk this land and believe it would be a wonderful parcel to retain trees and green spaces as development continues in this area of Gig Harbor North.”

“This open space would be for everyone to enjoy,” Kuhn wrote on the Mayor’s Blog. “I’ve had the opportunity to walk this land and believe it would be a wonderful parcel to retain trees and green spaces as development continues in this area of Gig Harbor North.”

The public can comment about the plan at the council meeting Dec. 13.

City spokesperson Laura Pettitt said the city cannot pay more than the assessed value for the 23-acre property.

“I don’t think the assessor has finished yet, which is why there’s no final price at this point,” she said Nov. 23.

Pettitt told The Gateway that past councils have also looked at the properties for preservation.

“The property has never been built on, so large natural cedars, maples, firs, and pines are unaltered, there is an existing primitive road/trail,” Mayor Kit Kuhn wrote on the city’s blog.
“The property has never been built on, so large natural cedars, maples, firs, and pines are unaltered, there is an existing primitive road/trail,” Mayor Kit Kuhn wrote on the city’s blog.

It’s been a “long-term goal for several elected officials on how we preserve that land and how we preserve the watershed north of Donkey Creek, too,” Pettitt said. “Both opportunities have come available in the past year.”