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Governor Authorizes Transfer of Northern State Property to Port of Skagit

April 29th 2016

Governor Authorizes Transfer of Northern State Property to Port of Skagit

OLYMPIA, WA- In signing the state capital budget into law last week, Gov. Jay Insleehas authorized the transfer of the Northern State Hospital property in Sedro-Woolley to the Port of Skagit, the result of a collaborative public-private effort to preserve the historic property, increase access to open space, and provide more sustainable community wage jobs.

Port of Skagit Commission President Dr. Kevin Ware said: "By placing the site under local control the Governor's action will allow the Port of Skagit to put this beautiful and historically important publicly owned property to a much higher use than it has seen for nearly a generation. Over the next several years, in coordination with other local government agencies, the Port will work with Janicki Bioenergy to create much needed, well-paying, technology-research and manufacturing jobs. The transition to local control will also allow the Port to make the park-like grounds more open to the general public and will lead to an improvement in mental health care by optimally locating and improving those facilities."

State Sen. Kirk Pearson, whose 39th district includes most of Skagit and Snohomish as well as the northeast corner of King County, led the effort in the State Senate to include the transfer language in the supplemental Capital Budget.

Sen. Pearson said: “I strongly support this effort to economically develop the property and create good jobs here in Skagit County.  Sedro-Woolley, Skagit County, and the state will all benefit from the new jobs and overall revenue growth.”

The Northern State Hospital site, which was designed by the renowned Olmsted Brothers landscape architecture firmand is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, has been underutilized since the hospital closed in 1973, and the agricultural land associated with it was subsequently turned over to Skagit County for recreational usage. The facility was reopened on a small scale in 1978 as a multi-service center for the U.S. Forest Service and state Department of Social and Health Services. The Port will use federal standards to prioritize the revitalization of selected structures on the property to preserve the original Olmsted design.

Skagit County Board of Commission Chairperson Lisa Janicki said: “local partners have come together like never before and the collaborative process has helped make revitalization of the historic property a reality. The thought of a world-class technology center that will generate more jobs is something we can all be excited about.”

A memorandum of understanding has been established between the Port and Janicki Bioenergy regarding future revitalization of the property and structures.

The capital budget legislation is House Bill 2380. Last year, the Legislature passed Senate Bill 5887granting the state the authority to pursue a 60-year lease of the campus. 

City of Sedro-Woolley Mayor Keith Wagoner said: "It is gratifying to be part of the collaborative process which will revitalize this historic property.  We now have an opportunity to reestablish Sedro-Woolley as a center for innovation and manufacturing."

Before the property can be transferred, the Washington Department of Enterprise Services, which manages the site, still needs to consult with the state Office of Financial Management to determine whether transferring the property from the state to the Port of Skagit is in furtherance of the interests of the people of Washington.  

If you are a reporter seeking information about the Port of Skagit, please call Linda Tyler, Community Outreach Administrator, at 360-757-0011 or email