King County to buy out lease with golf course

The next step in the future of the Donut Hole, and toward a new Tahoma High School, is for King County to buy out its lease with the Elk Run Golf Course.

The Donut Hole is 154 acres of unincorporated land within the urban growth boundary off Kent-Kangley Road Southeast and Southeast 228th Street that is home to nine holes of Elk Run Golf Course, a stand of trees and the county’s 13-acre roads maintenance facility.

The land, which is owned by the roads division of King County, was annexed into the city after changes were made to the state’s laws governing annexation processes last year, specifically with Maple Valley and the Donut Hole in mind.

A sale of 35 acres to the Tahoma School District, to be used for the district’s new high school, is pending.

The future of the Donut Hole will be a focus of Maple Valley’s comprehensive plan update that will begin this month, City Manager David Johnston said.

“We need to work on our daytime population, which means getting primary jobs in our community,” Johnston said.

He further explained that the new high school —  with the school district’s vision for a regional learning community and potential partnerships with area community colleges or technical schools — could act as an anchor for drawing employers.

With the City Council’s focus on economic development in recent years, Johnston said that a vision for bringing living wage jobs to the city will likely shape the focus of development goals in the Donut Hole.

The county has been leasing the property for the golf course in the Donut Hole to Elk Run. This week an ordinance was introduced to terminate that lease agreement.

King County Councilman Reagan Dunn, who represents Maple Valley, said in a phone interview Monday that the county will buy out the remaining 15 years on the lease at a cost of $2.9 million.

“That will free up the title to that particular parcel of land, which allows us to complete the transaction with the Tahoma School District,” Dunn said.

The county has planned to move the roads maintenance facility that is on the site, possibly to a county owned site in Ravensdale.

“That’s one of the preferred sites,” Dunn said.

The long-term plan is for the county to sell the 119 acres left after the sale to Tahoma.

“I think the general idea percolating around King County is that we are going to find an alternate area or facility to meet our roads needs and we will sell that parcel either broken up or in total to whomever would want to buy it,” Dunn said. “The first step is getting rid of the lease on the golf course and making sure we sell that chunk to the school district.”

Dunn said that it will take longer for the county to sell the 13 acres where the roads facility is located because of the need to move the facility first. He expects that the county will be looking to sell the rest of the acreage “fairly quickly.”

Dunn pointed out that since the roads division owns the property it will receive the funds upon the sale of the land, which could provide a sorely needed boost to roads division revenue.

“The revenue that would be generated from a sale could go to fix roads, so we want to sell that as quick as we can,” Dunn said.

At this point, the future of the front nine holes of the golf course is unclear.

“We would expect that they’ll sell that land as well when the back nine is no longer available to them,” Dunn said.

Roy Humphreys, general manager of Elk Run, was unavailable for comment.

“We do have needs, we won’t know until we have talks with the owner,” Johnston said of any possible interest by the city in purchasing the front nine holes of the golf course. “Right now it has been a golf course for a number of years and no one really cared, except to play golf.”


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