Council approves grant agreement with Graafstra family, Salmon Recovery Funding Board

ARLINGTON The Graafstra family farm will be restored for conservation purposes and most likely will provide space for recreation in the future, since Arlington City Council agreed at its April 2 meeting to accept a grant for restoration projects along the river there.
The Salmon Recovery Funding Board awarded a grant of $274,435 to buy a conservation easement comprised of 57 of the 135 acres of the retired Country Charm Dairy Farm. The project will restore 1.9 miles of riparian and stream bank habitat.
In turn, the Council authorized the City Administrator to sign an agreement for $48,430 in matching funds from the city.
City of Arlington Natural Resources Director Bill Blake touted a variety of uses for the site, such as replacing the fishing in Pioneer Pond and the swimming at Haller Park.
It could be a sensational summer campground, so that even international travelers could backpack in and have a place to stay, Blake said. A community garden could supplement the food bank and we could even put in an off-leash pet area.
Blake admitted that any such features would be phased in over a number of years, especially as the city pursues grants to purchase the remaining 78 acres of Graafstra lands. In the meantime, Blake looks forward to working with the Salmon Recovery Funding Board and BankSavers to plant more trees along the river and install large woody debris in its waters to stem the near-term threat of extinction of the South Fork Stillaguamish Chinook.
For Hank Graafstra, this agreement represents a means of giving back to the community that his family has called home for decades. He echoed Blakes enthusiasm over the possibility of setting up baseball and soccer fields on the site, but hopes hes not stepping on anyones toes.
If its what people want, whatever works is fine by me, Graafstra said. This community has just been so good to us that we want to do something good for them.
Graaftsra believes that a proposed amendment to the city of Arlington comprehensive plan, which would change a 2.32-acre portion of his lands at 605 Alcazar Ave. from high density residential to neighborhood commercial would provide the community with another distinguishing feature, possibly making the barn available for commercial use.
Arlington needs to be unique, to compete with the big box stores, Graafstra said. We could bring in little shops to sell local arts and crafts. We brought in a lot of people from all over once, just by selling ice cream.
Graafstra invited the community to attend an auction May 4, where hell be liquidating all of his old farm equipment.

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