Transfer from State Parks marks a new beginning

LONG BEACH - Owner-ship of approximately 90 acres of state-owned land was officially transferred to the city of Long Beach Friday, Oct. 10, at a small ceremony held on the boardwalk near the Bolstad beach approach.

In February, the Long Beach City Council, with cooperation from Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission, adopted a resolution requesting the state legislature transfer two pieces of State Parks-owned land to the city. According to the resolution and stipulations of the transfer, the land cannot be used for anything other than public park purposes.

"That means no convention center," said City Administrator Nabiel Shawa, who credits the diligence of Sen. Mark Doumit with getting the piece of legislation passed. "We appreciate all the effort Sen. Doumit made. He was the one man [in Olympia] that did birddog it down to the very end."

Made up of two 45-acre parcels located between the 1889 line west to the mean high tide line, the first stretch is between 5th St. SW to 4th St. NW, and the second lays between 8th St. NW and 14th St. NW. The transfer adds 3,000 feet of oceanfront land to the city of Long Beach.

In an early afternoon ceremony, Washington State Parks Director Rex Derr said the land will be better used by the city than the state, and the transfer marks a new area in the state parks system.

"This piece of property makes more sense as a part of your community, a community park, and a gateway to the state park which is Washington's coastline," said Derr. "We are going to rebuild our 90-year-old system so it is fresh for your children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The land exchange fits right into this plan."

The land was once part of a possible three-way land exchange involving the city, State Parks and Vancouver-based RealVest Corp., an exchange that would have brought plans of a convention center to the city's forefront.

Now the city can make plans to preserve the land for community use as a great open area, connecting the beach and downtown.

Shawa and others at city hall hope the city can obtain funding from the government to develop the land for more recreational uses. Currently, most of the area retains the natural look of vast dunes and seagrass.

"It is the hope of the city that they will receive some grant money in the near future so the council and the public can come together to create a parks plan that we can implement over the next several years," said Shawa.

Mayor Dale Jacobson gave Derr and Doumit certificates of thanks and ceremonial keys to the city, saying it never could have been done without their help.

In return, Derr gave the city of Long Beach ownership of the land, saying "You gave me a key, and now I'm going to give you a deed to this park property."

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