Commissioners vote to move forward with land exchange agreement

by Rachel Hansen | Mar 20, 2023

Chelan PUD commissioners unanimously supported a land exchange agreement Monday that includes a range of measures intended to reduce the anticipated impact of Confluence Parkway on nearby public lands. (Audio starts at 01:40:20 on the board recording.)

The City of Wenatchee’s Confluence Parkway project is a proposed 2.5-mile bypass to alleviate traffic congestion along North Wenatchee Avenue.

The land exchange would trade a long, narrow parcel of land along the western edges of Horan Natural Area and Confluence State Park – about 5 acres total owned by the PUD – for roughly equivalent property from the City.

“I think it needs to be clear and understood that this vote is not an approval or disapproval of the parkway,” said Commissioner Carnan Bergren. The proposed parkway will require approval of other agencies to move forward, including the Federal Highway Administration.

“We’re making a land exchange that will improve the Horan habitat area is the way I see it,” Bergren said.

Commissioner Garry Arsenault said he believes that the land swap provides value to customer-owners because it will secure and preserve undeveloped land as future wildlife habitat.

“Today’s resolution puts in play a road map to achieve equity -- taking something of value and replacing it with equal value -- otherwise known as a compromise,” Arseneault said. “Evidence of the District’s desire and commitment to partner with the city by helping alleviate traffic congestion in the north end is the cornerstone of this resolution.”

Commissioner Steve McKenna said that the Confluence Parkway proposal has been the most complicated discussion of his tenure, with hundreds of comments from customer-owners on all sides of the issue.

“It’s a paramount duty of the PUD and the City to follow through on what this agreement is, because it’s based on what our customer-owners said is important,” McKenna said.

Wenatchee City Council will consider the land exchange agreement Thursday.

The land exchange agreement also includes:

  • Noise abatement: The City will build a noise wall and earthen berms with landscaping in areas where road noise is expected to have the greatest impact.
  • Trail improvements: The City will reroute the Apple Capital Recreation Loop Trail away from Hawley Street and the railroad tracks for better safety and user experience. The new pedestrian bridge will be about twice as wide as the existing one.

The draft agreement also commits the City to reimburse the utility to relocate two water wells that support Confluence State Park, and replace state park staff housing that is in the path of the proposed roadway. In most cases, the City will cover the relocation of electrical transmission and distribution lines in coordination with roadway construction.

In other news, commissioners:

  • Approved a water service agreement with Oroville-Tonasket Irrigation District for access to 4,000 acre-feet of water for $1 million annually. The agreement provides future flexibility for hatcheries, parks, water systems and power generation. (at 00:37:00 on the board audio)

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Media contacts

Rachel Hansen: (509) 661-4320
Libby Siebens: (509) 661-8291

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