The Kent City Council approved a $7.2 million purchase of the 17-acre Ruth property to complete the assemblage of all the land around Clark Lake that make up Clark Lake Park.
“I’m very excited about this, it’s going to bring everything together,” said Council President Bill Boyce during the Aug. 2 Operations and Public Safety Committee meeting. “This is a great day for the Parks Department.”
City staff plans to use state and King County grants to cover as much as $6 million of the purchase price of the property at 12410 SE 248th St., according to city documents. The city has used state Recreation and Conservation Office grants to pay for other parcels at the park. The city also will use monies from its parks land acquisition fund.
City officials began planning decades ago to acquire the property, according to planning documents.
At the committee meeting, Deputy Parks Director Brian Levenhagen held up a copy of a 1971 Kent News Journal that had an article about the city’s long-term goals and what it envisioned for Clark Lake Park.
“The city’s been working on this a long time,” Levenhagen said in reference to the article from 51 years ago.
Seller Susan Ruth approached the city about selling the property. She is the widow of William (Bill) Ruth, who died in 2021 at the age of 87. Bill Ruth was born in Seattle but grew up in Kent and graduated from Kent-Meridian High School. Bill Ruth was a real estate developer in the Pacific Northwest and Mexico. He owned W.E. Ruth Real Estate, which was started in 1943 in Kent by his grandfather.
The Ruth family plans to donate a portion of the proceeds back to the city after the sale closes in September, Levenhagen said.
“This is a pretty big deal to complete this assemblage,” Levenhagen said. “In the 20 years I’ve been here it’s been a huge priority.”
Levenhagen said city staff will need to update a master plan for the park completed in 2005 because this property was not in the plan. The park’s entrance is at Southeast 240th Street and 127th Avenue Southeast. The park features a walking trail or path and fishing.
The property purchase will enable the city to complete a loop trail around Clark Lake.
“To be able to walk all the way around the lake will be a big deal and increase the popularity of the park,” Levenhagen said.
City staff plans to set aside 1 acre for a potential indoor facility.
Levenhagen explained in an email to the Kent Reporter about how the $7.2 million price was determined. The three parcels are assesssed at a total of about $2.1 million, according to King County property records.
“What you find in the King County property records is the assessed value for tax purposes, not the appraised value,” Levenhagen said. “The assessed value is not the same as the appraised value.
“When the city buys property we have to get an appraisal that calculates the highest and best use of the property,” Levenhagen said. “Our appraiser for this property based the valuation off of comparable sales, the zoning of the property and the number of lots that a developer could subdivide the property into using the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) as required by state and federal grant guidelines.
“We then had a second appraiser review the original appraisal and the review appraisal confirmed the original appraisal was reasonable and fit the market evidence.”
The property purchase opportunity came as good news to City Councilmember Marli Larimer.
“This is really exciting,” Larimer said. “I was just at Clark Lake this weekend (July 30-31).In the extreme heat I took my dog because it’s one place you can walk with no heat.”
City Councilmember Zandria Michaud was pleased to see the deal done.
“We’re very thankful to the Ruth family for selling it to the city,” Michaud said.