Bellevue is close to signing a $6.3 million deal to buy the Meydenbauer Bay Marina, property that would be used for a long-sought major park on the waterfront where the city was founded more than 100 years ago.
Although details remain to be worked out, the city has reached a tentative agreement with owner Bill Lagen for the 70-slip marina and 400 feet of Lake Washington waterfront.
The City Council could make a final decision on whether to buy the property within two weeks.
What's not quite settled is how the city would pay for it.
Most of the money - about $4.1 million - would come from bonds paid back over 20 years. State, county and private grants for $1.7 million also would be used.
The amount leaves the city $500,000 short. That money would come out of the budget for parks, roads and sewers, which the council is updating.
Word of the tentative deal buoyed supporters who have warned that the marina probably would be the city's last chance to buy a significant piece of the waterfront.
The marina is next door to the Bellevue Yacht Basin, which the city recently bought. Eventually, the properties would become a linked park, allowing people to walk from downtown, through old Bellevue and end up at a site that looks out into the scenic enclave of Meydenbauer Bay.
Negotiations began last spring. And they weren't easy. At one point, Lagen, a former city councilman, became frustrated and broke off the talks, saying the marina was no longer for sale.
But the two sides came together again and are now committed to reaching a final agreement.
Even if the city buys the property, the marina probably wouldn't be transformed into a park anytime soon, says Mayor Ron Smith. The city would continue to operate the marina, using the money to pay off the bonds.
"We aren't planning on anything yet in terms of the park," Smith said. "Frankly, the marina has to stay up and running for at least 20 years to pay for the debt on the property."
Smith added that any specific plans to develop the marina into a park would go through public hearings, and that likely wouldn't take place for years.
J. Martin McOmber's phone message number is 206-515-5628. His e-mail address is: email@example.com