County marks rebirth of former hazardous site

A former hazardous waste site near Roy has been transformed into a rural neighborhood providing new affordable housing to six families and agricultural products for families short on grocery money.

The Orchard, an 18.3-acre Planned Development District, will provide fresh fruit and produce for the Emergency Food Network of Pierce County.

The EFN supplies 70 food banks and will use the Roy site to supplement produce from its Mother Earth Farm between Sumner and Orting.

The Korean Women’s Association, a local housing and supportive service provider, was selected through a public process to operate the housing units. The project features six Energy Star rated homes and provides an affordable rental option to low-income households.

The project’s completion will be marked Friday, May 26 with a grand opening ceremony at 10 a.m. at the site three miles southeast of Roy (directions below). Participants include David Ottey, executive director of the Emergency Food Network, Sugin Crow of the Korean Women’s Association and Pierce County Community Services Director Tom Hilyard.

Consul General Chan Ho Kwan of the Republic of Korea Consulate General in Seattle will be a special guest.

For more than 20 years the property owner stored chemicals, diesel fuel, tires and other hazardous materials on the site. Listed on the state Department of Ecology’s list as a high-priority for cleanup, the site was acquired by the Pierce County Health Department in a sheriff’s sale in 1986. The property was donated to the Pierce County Community Development Corporation in 2000 and work to clean up the property began.

The site’s 2,000 foot border with Murray Creek will be protected with a permanently dedicated wetland buffer along the creek’s edge.

Through its agricultural use and community education, The Orchard will provide a self-sustaining community aimed at providing food and services to the citizens of Pierce County. “The Orchard will be a positive contributor to the community for many years to come,” said Tom Hilyard, director of Pierce County Community Services. His department directed the project in cooperaton with Pierce County Planning and Land Services and Sheriff’s departments, Tacoma Power, Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, state Ecology and Health departments, EFN and the Korean Women’s Association.

The project’s $1.5 million cost was covered by Community Development Corporation funds and federal and state sources. Business donors include Premier Building Systems, Tacoma Truss, Milgard Manufacturing, Tyvek Northwest, Pro-Source Building Products, Gutters Plus, United Wholesale Supply, Albers Construction, Randal Sand and Gravel, Wood and Sons, Boetcher and Sons, Miles Sand Gravel, Carrig and Dancer, The Ben B. Cheney Foundation, Tahoma Chapter fo the Western Cascades Fruit Growers Society, Master Builders of Tacoma/Pierce County, Ticor Title, and Green Effects Landscape Service.