County considered buying properties upstream from landslide

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by CHRIS INGALLS / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @cjingalls

KING5.com

Posted on April 4, 2014 at 6:59 PM

Updated Monday, May 5 at 1:23 PM

DARRINGTON, Wash. -- Snohomish County officials are declining to discuss a report that shows they considered buying out property owners in Steelhead Haven, the community that was buried in a landslide two weeks ago.

They say they won’t discuss such matters while the recovery effort is underway. But documents obtained by the KING 5 Investigators shed light the county’s decision-making process in 2003.

That’s when officials considered buying out property owners at two locations with a few miles of each other on the Stillaguamish River.

Dick Cromoga remembers a county man coming around asking if he wanted to sell the property he’s owned since 1973.

“I wasn’t interested in that and there was nothing further said about it,” said Cromoga.

But the county did buy 10 cabins that were closer to the river using a nearly $2 million FEMA grant.

Records show the county applied for the grant claiming that there was risk to “life and limb” of the people who lived at Chatham Acres.

The Chatham Acres development was four miles upstream from Steelhead Haven.

It’s now a vacant, overgrown riverside property where the cabins used to perch next to the river.

Records show around the same time in 2003 or 2004 the county made a fateful decision not to buy Steelhead Haven.

Instead, it opted to build rock walls and mitigation projects to spare the community of more than 50 homes from the forces of the river.

Records show that county officials were making land purchases because of flooding threats, not because they were trying to move communities away from landslides.

 

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