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A regional nonprofit is working with the community to seek input on charting the future of a historic plot of land in Upper County.

Approximately 60 community members attended a virtual open house on March 31 to learn about and provide input on the No. 4 Mine site in Roslyn. The event was hosted by Forterra, a Seattle-based nonprofit land trust that plans to tailor the site to the specific needs of the community.

Forterra Managing Director of Community Development Rebecca Bouchey said her team is responsible for building the foundation of all development for the nonprofit’s projects.

“It means working with the community on a community-driven plan for a development that will serve the community according to its desires and needs,” she said. “We work on land-based solutions that are in support of healthy ecosystems and resilient communities.”

This is not the first project that Forterra has been involved with in Kittitas County. Bouchey said the nonprofit has also played a part in the Teanaway Community Forest, as well as preservation of farmlands and working with the Roslyn Downtown Association on the restoration of the historic NWIC Building.

“Specifically, we support community ownership opportunities and development solutions that can lead to a more sustainable community,” she said.

Bouchey said the group became involved with the No. 4 Mine site through their work with the NWIC building. She said they noticed the high level of community engagement regarding the future of Roslyn, with much of the attention being focused on the No. 4 Mine property.

“It represents really the last large scale developable piece of land that’s within the Roslyn City boundaries,” she said.

OBTAINED GRANT

In 2020, Bouchey said Forterra teamed with the Roslyn Downtown Association and was successful in receiving a grant of $2 million from the Washington State Department of Commerce to purchase the property and begin learning more about the community’s vision for the plot.

After closing on the 30-acre property in late 2020, Bouchey said the team has held meetings with Roslyn City Council and has been meeting with an advisory team of community leaders since February.

“They are advising us on how we can engage with the community,” she said. “They are giving us some foundational information, so as we go out, we don’t have to start from scratch. We go based on what the community has already discussed and heard as out foundation of engagement.”

During the due diligence process, she said the team learned approximately half of the plot cannot be developed due to existing wetlands, riparian buffers and slag piles left over from the historic use of the property.

“Only about 15 acres at a maximum are possible for development,” she said. “It’s not as large as it may seem at first glance.”

LOOKING AT POSSIBILITIES

Bouchey said the primary goal of the first community input session was to introduce Forterra’s development team and their mission to community members previously unaware of their activities in Kittitas County, as well as introducing the planning advisory team to those in attendance.

“We also introduced the two architects we have retained to help with us to work on the community-driven design for whatever this project may end up being,” she said.

After the introduction process, Bouchey said the attendees were split up into separate input groups that worked with individual team members to share their visions for the property. She said the major themes that the community has voiced for the property are the need for affordable housing for local residents, family-wage job growth, expanded parking to support the Roslyn Farmer’s Market, and access to surrounding nature and the Coal Mines Trail.

“They shared with us what their dreams would be,” she said. “The goal of this meeting was to get that preliminary information.”

Throughout the spring and summer, Bouchey said her team will continue to hold community input meetings and work with their team of architects to refine the plan to a solution they feel is feasible for the property.

“We’re going to start engaging the community by showing the options,” she said. “Starting in early summer and continuing into the fall, we will be talking about options and listening to feedback. It will keep going back and forth like that. Not everything is going to be possible on one site. There will be some choices that have to be made, but the idea is that we do that together.”

Bouchey said the target outcome is to have a plan developed with the community input for the site by fall, so that it can then be presented to Roslyn City Council members. As the plan progresses, she said this plot of land presents an incredibly unique opportunity for residents to shape the future of their community.

“Roslyn has this connection to its history, character and natural setting that you don’t often see,” she said. “The community is so grounded in that. This site has connections to all of those, and it is exciting to broaden community ownership and job creation for Roslyn, but also preserve that natural and historic connection that community itself represents. It’s such a wonderful place.”

More information on the project and a signup for updates can be found at www.forterra.org/subpage/roslyn-news

Reporting for the DR since March 2018. Lover of campfires, black labs and good vibes. Proud Humboldt State alum!

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