KOA will need to replace 30 campsites in Kent because of a Green River levee project by the King County Flood Control District. COURTESY PHOTO, KOA

KOA will need to replace 30 campsites in Kent because of a Green River levee project by the King County Flood Control District. COURTESY PHOTO, KOA

King County hikes payment to $1.1 million to Kent for KOA campsites

30 sites to be relocated because of Green River levee work

The city of Kent will get another $400,000 from the King County Flood Control District to reimburse Seattle/Tacoma KOA to replace 30 campsites along the Green River.

The flood district’s board approved an amendment March 6 to an interlocal agreement to increase the maximum reimbursement to Kent to $1.1 million from $700,000 because of increased land values and constructions costs, according to city documents. The City Council’s Public Works Committee approved the amendment March 18.

KOA (Kampgrounds of America), which sits along South 212th Street and Russell Road, will lose about 30 sites needed by the flood district to expand the Lower Russell Levee along the Green River, an estimated $52 million project. KOA has 189 sites at its Kent location, which opened in 1978.

Toby Hallock, city environmental engineer, told the committee he had “good news to bring you” about the flood district interlocal agreement.

“It’s a $400,000 increase to make up for a lack of funds in the land exchange with KOA,” he said.

The council on March 5 approved a small property swap with the KOA campground.

City staff recommended in exchange for KOA’s property of about 33,866 square feet (just under 1 acre), Kent will give up 55,956 square feet of property in its Green River Natural Resources Area to allow KOA to replace its 30 campsites. The natural resources property borders the southern edge of the campground.

Because the city bought the natural resources property in 1993 with King County grants, it must replace land to be lost in the KOA exchange. The city plans to use its $55,000 purchase last year of the nearby Suh property (68,560 square feet) to meet that requirement.

The King County Flood Control District, funded by a property tax and overseen by the King County Council, will reimburse the city for its purchase of the Suh property and for KOA to put in the new campground sites.

“We have been very fortunate to receive funds often from the King County Flood Control District so it’s nice to know they see the importance to complete all of this work,” City Councilwoman Toni Troutner said at the Public Works Committee meeting.

The city and flood district signed the initial contract for property acquisitions for the Lower Russell Levee last May.

The flood district plans to start construction on the levee later this year, Hallock said. The work includes relocating and reconstructing the city’s 10-acre Van Doren’s Landing Park; installing 1,000 feet of floodwall; moving 400,000 yards of material; and creating a fish habitat. The city already moved the historic Dvorak Barn to the Green River Natural Resources Area and out of the way of the levee improvement.

“It’s a good project but the city wouldn’t undertake it by itself wouldn’t be capable of it,” Councilman Dennis Higgins said about the levee work. “The King County Flood Control District is making it possible.”

The city and flood district continue to improve numerous Green River levees in an effort to have the entire system within city limits accredited by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in order to remove properties behind the levee from FEMA flood maps to reduce development restrictions as well as flood insurance costs in the Kent Valley.

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