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What is Your Vision for the Future of Northern State?

What is your vision for the future of the Northern State Hospital campus near Sedro-Woolley? Members of the public will have their first chance to voice opinions about the future of the property at a community open house scheduled for 5 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 5, in the RSN Building on the Northern State campus.

The Port of Skagit, with partners Skagit County and the City of Sedro-Woolley, recently commissioned an adaptive reuse study of the Northern State property. The state Department of Ecology is providing a $200,000 integrated planning grant to pay for the study, which will be a thorough investigation of the property, including condition assessments, potential environmental liabilities, a feasibility study and more.

 Maul Foster Alongi, the planning firm conducting the study, plans to hold two community open-house meetings to collect public input on the future of Northern State. In addition to the June 5 meeting, a second session will take place in fall 2014 to explore potential re-use alternatives. The study is expected to be completed by early 2015.

Background

Located just east of Sedro-Woolley, Northern State Hospital opened in 1909 to provide high-quality patient care for the mentally ill. The 225-acre hospital campus was a self-sustaining facility that included staff and patient housing, a dedicated reservoir, a lumber mill, quarry, steam plant and gardens. It included meandering pathways through forested areas, manicured reflecting ponds, and expansive views. Eventually, more than 80 structures and architectural ornamentation were built in Spanish Colonial Revival style. The campus abutted about 700 acres of pastoral farmland and livestock operations.

The hospital closed in 1973, and the agricultural land was subsequently turned over to Skagit County for recreational usage. The State of Washington currently owns the hospital campus, which is managed by the state Department of Enterprise Services.

In 2010, DES expressed interest in surplusing the Northern State property, which is only partially occupied and has declined in condition and structural integrity. Since then, efforts have been under way to bring the entire property – both campus and agricultural land – under single ownership to satisfy community desires for a local redevelopment effort there.

In January, the port formed a partnership with Skagit County and the City of Sedro-Woolley to explore possibilities for the redevelopment of the former Northern State Hospital campus and grounds. The partners agreed that the port would take the lead in the planning for Northern State and possibly serve as landlord if Northern State comes under local ownership.

If you are a reporter seeking information about the Port of Skagit, please call Andrew Entrikin, community outreach administrator, at 360-757-0011 or email andrew@portofskagit.com