The curtain is coming down on at least some of the drama that has embroiled Puyallup in recent years – and the ending looks like a happy one for everyone involved.
The decision by the Puyallup City Council to buy 24 acres of the historic Van Lierop bulb farm is a win-win-win deal, one that will benefit the community, owners Neil and Lore Van Lierop, and a nonprofit serving at-risk mothers and their babies.
The community gets to preserve some of the area’s remaining open space, which the city plans to use as a park honoring the Van Lierops. The family has grown daffodils and tulips in Puyallup for five generations.
The idea that such a signature piece of the Puyallup Valley’s heritage might be turned into a big warehouse lot upset many in the area. A huge warehouse apparently will still be built on 22 acres of the Van Lierop property that were sold to the Seattle-based developer Schnitzer West. But the council’s decision to buy 24 acres means a good part of the farm will be preserved for public enjoyment. We hope the developer’s plans are respectful of the community and its concern for the land.
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The agreement is also good for the nonprofit Step By Step, which will buy six of the city’s 24 acres. The nonprofit’s facility will include an early childhood education center, a community cafe and catering program, and a business and technical education program – all providing services aimed at helping mothers support themselves and their infants.
The Step By Step facility, which has a spring opening target date, will be named in honor of Germaine Korum, a longtime advocate for women and children. Her husband, Jerry Korum, donated $500,000 toward the nonprofit’s fundraising campaign.
Finally, the deal will give closure to the Van Lierops. They have long wanted to retire, but the wrangling between the city and the warehouse developer got in the way.
The galvanizing force behind this agreement is Krista Linden, Step By Step’s founder and executive director. The nonprofit had planned to buy some of the farmland for its facility, but found that it would be on the hook for some unpaid back taxes. That wouldn’t be the case if the city bought the property and resold a portion.
Linden worked with the Van Lierops and the city and encouraged the process that ended with the purchase agreement.
With an end to one source of disagreement in the city and new faces on the City Council come January, Puyallup can take this opportunity to move forward – and start planning that new park.