Deal lets county use conservation fund
County commissioners enthusiastically agreed Tuesday to buy Big Rock and build a parking lot.
The deal to acquire the popular rock-climbing and hiking area and make it publicly accessible reflected years of effort by the Dishman Hills Natural Area Association and the county parks staff.
“Excellent work,” Commissioner Mark Richard told Parks Director Doug Chase.
The crowning feature of the acquisition is Big Rock, a rock formation with a 230-foot face prized by climbers.
Commissioners had been concerned about acquiring the 80-acre property without providing trail-head parking, but the problem was resolved when property owner Doug Wright agreed to sell 10 acres.
The deal will eliminate the need for recreationists to use private roads and property for access.
County officials have sought Big Rock since the county Conservation Futures program was established in 1994. However, the tax-funded program’s inability to pay more than market value for the property was an obstacle until the Dishman Hills association stepped up as an intermediary.
The association purchased the Wright property as well as the Big Rock land, owned by Robert Hammacher. Now the nonprofit organization will sell all the land to the county for $331,425.
Chase said the Dishman Hills association will write-off $107,825 to cover 98 percent of the cost of building the trail-head parking area. He said the voter-approved Conservation Futures property tax will cover the purchase and any additional cost for the parking lot.