The former Sumner Meadows golf course property is closed and is not open for public use. This may seem like old news to most, as the golf course has not been operating for the past seven years. However, since its closure, members of the public have largely ignored its closure by treating the property like public open space by stepping over the NO TRESPASSING signs, walking around the gate blocking access to the entrance; stealing the No Trespassing signs, tagging the property on Google as “Sumner Dog Park” and most recently, complaining to the City that it needs to provide garbage cans to accommodate trespassers’ garbage. For a short period of time, the City had a use agreement with a model airplane club allowing that club to use the site, but that agreement has now been terminated. Any access to, or use of, the former golf course property for any purpose is prohibited.  

The site is going under construction, so for the safety of yourself, your family and your pets, please do not trespass on the former golf course. As construction commences, barriers along Stewart Road will close off the former entrance drive lane and parking lot.  

Didn’t the sale from 2013 go away and fall through?

No, it did not. The City entered into a Purchase and Sale Agreement with Principal Investments for the site, and that contract still exists. It simply took a lot longer than anticipated to work through terms of the site, and work through the difficult and complex state and federal permitting requirements. Think about negotiating the sale of a house and then multiply the complexity by about 1000.

Why can’t you just leave it open?

When we asked the citizens of Sumner what to do with the land, 79.4% told us to sell it. We were given a clear mandate from Sumner residents who are the ones paying for that property.

But wouldn’t it make a great dog park?

Perhaps, but when it was available on the open market for sale, no one put in an offer to buy it with that intent.

What will it become?

The land south of the course and half the former course become 170 acres of new channels for the White River as flood protection and habitat restoration, all part of the White River Restoration Project. It is for this project that construction is starting now. This project is a partnership has been developed by Sumner with the Puyallup Tribe of Indians, Pierce County, Muckleshoot Indian Tribe and Cascade Water Alliance. The project benefits Sumner businesses and residents as well as endangered salmon species and endangered Orca populations. Another 0.61 acres may become BNSF siding tracks, another 59.3 acres developed into warehouses (from the original purchase and sale agreement), another 9.2 acres for stormwater ponds and 0.7 acres for the Sumner Link Trail.

Great, so then we can enjoy the open space in the future?

No. Wildlife restoration areas are not parks. The site will be built with deep channels for the river to use during high water events as well as areas for wild animals and vegetation to reclaim the area. Portions of the Sumner Link Trail will be re-routed along the Restoration Project, so a slightly rerouted trail system will remain a recreational asset for all to use.

Background Timeline

  • In May 1993, the City purchased 292 acres from Catkin Resources for approximately $5 million.
  • Of the original 292 acres purchased, 146 acres were developed as the golf course; 11 acres were traded for the land for City shops; 11 acres were sold to the Parks Department for the future Riverbend Park via Conservation Futures; 30 acres were reserved for open space mitigation for the 24th Street Interchange and 94 acres are vacant and/or under lease.
  • The City began operating the course itself.  In 2004, the City Council discussed selling the course and instead hired a contractor to operate the course for the City.
  • The Washington State Auditor gave the City a finding in its 2010 and 2011 audits for unpaid inter-fund loans that were used to support the course.
  • By July 2012, the City owed $5.7 million for all the land purchased and the building of the course plus another $900,000 still owed in inter-fund loans. Revenues from the golf course cover operating expenses only.  Debt payment, improvement of capital facilities, and other major expenses come from the city general fund. 
  • Research showed that golf courses across the nation were sharing similar struggles, and the course’s data showed that only 3% of golfers using it lived in Sumner.
  • Exploratory market research indicated that if the City sold it as a golf course, it could earn at most $1 million.  If the City sold the land for development, it could earn an estimated $30 million or more.
  • In August, the City provided a survey to all residents, outlining the dilemma.  The key question was whether the City should keep the course even though that meant raising taxes to cover the debt payments or sell it even though that likely meant the course would be closed and developed.  Eighty percent of the responses said to sell the course.  
  • On October 15, 2012, the Sumner City Council passed Resolution No. 1360, directing the Mayor to market the course for sale.
  • On January 22, 2013, the Sumner City Council unanimously approved an agreement with Colliers International to market the Sumner Meadows Golf Course for sale.  
  • On February 22, 2013, the Parks Board met and determined that the property is surplus to the City, as there is sufficient park and open space to meet the City’s current level of service in the Parks and Open Space Plan and the City’s Comprehensive Plan, and recommended the sale of the Property.
  • On March 25, 2013, the City Council approved Resolution 1378, declaring the Golf Course property as surplus to the City’s needs and authorizing the sale of the course.
  • On September 16, 2013, the City Council voted 6-1 to sell the site to Principal Investments.
  • The Purchase and Sale Agreement with Principal Investments has undergone several amendments and revisions, but the property remains under contract for sale to Principal.
Categories: Around Town