Land tells a tale of the city

Condemned property's history - from family to development to park

By Dennis Box

The Courier-Herald

A 12.55-acre piece of property next to Allan Yorke Park that was condemned by the City Council has provided a history lesson for the city of Bonney Lake.

A Pierce County Superior Court jury decided Aug. 5 the city owed Schuur Brothers Construction, owners of the condemned property, $5 million.

The City Council voted to condemn the land in May 2004 to expand Allan Yorke Park.

To most residents around the city, the land is known as the Moriarty property, although Schuur Brothers have owned it since 2004.

According to 62-year-old Denny Moriarty, the property was purchased by his father Jim and mother Maude in 1966 from Art Wahl.

"We had come down from Alaska and my Dad, my brother Jack and I started the Moriarty Logging Company," Moriarty said. "My dad rented a house in Black Diamond and one day he met Art Wahl on the street in Sumner. My dad told him he was looking for a place and Art said he ought to buy the folks' place."

Wahl's parents, Lou and Mae Wahl, had lived on the property and raised their family in the house that still stands on it.

Going back more than 100 years, Moriarty said his great-grandfather, Milton, had homesteaded 80 acres of land in the latter part of the 1800s in Bonney Lake where Allan Yorke Park is located.

"The old house set about where the rest rooms are at Allan Yorke Park now," Moriarty said. "Milton tried to farm the land, but it was so rocky he let it go back."

Milton Moriarty lost about 40 acres of land when Puget Power created Lake Tapps, Moriarty said.

The Moriarty family is quite familiar with condemnation suits after being a party in one brought by the city of Tacoma in the 1960s.

Moriarty's dad was born in Bonney Lake, but moved to Kosmos, Wash., in Lewis County, to work in the logging business. Denny was born in Morton in 1943. His dad worked for the Kosmos Timber Company.

Jim and Maude owned two parcels of land in Kosmos, a 15-acre piece and a two-acre piece on Rainy Creek.

His parents lost the land around 1965 to a condemnation action by the city of Tacoma when Mossyrock Dam was raised and the reservoir was built for the Cowlitz River hydroelectric project that flooded Kosmos.

"They never got much for their land," Moriarty said. "He didn't get enough to buy the property outright in Bonney Lake."

After working in Alaska for a period of time, the Moriarty family returned to the area and his dad bought the Wahl property, which would become know as the Moriarty property or Schuur land in the condemnation suit.

Jim and Maude Moriarty lived on the place beginning in 1966. Denny purchased a portion of the land from his dad and built a house south of the main house for his family.

He later bought some property on 230th Avenue East where he now lives . He and his dad raised cattle on the two properties and operated their logging business, which continues today.

Maude Moriarty died in 1993 and Jim lived alone on the place until July 3, 2000.

After his father's death the land was willed to Moriarty and he decided to put it on the market in 2001.

The first prospective buyer was Jim Clifford, according to Moriarty, and next Parker Pacific, a logging, construction and development company.

When Parker Pacific backed out, Bill Schuur, president of Schuur Construction, entered the picture in 2002.

Moriarty said he had gone to a City Council meeting in 2001 when Parker Pacific was discussing the project, but he did not talk to council members or the mayor.

"I probably should have talked to them about the property," Moriarty said. "I didn't even have signs up. But I think everyone knew it was for sale."

Moriarty said by the time he was contacted by the council, sometime in 2002, Schuur had already started the purchase process.

"In the end I'm glad the city got it and it will be a park," Moriarty said. "There were a lot of rhododendrons of my mother's. I hope they can save some of the them."

Moriarty also noted that any wetland on the property was caused by the city. His dad placed an 8-inch drain running north-south on the land, but over the years it has plugged when the city put a culvert in on West Tapps Highway and added backfill to the parking area at Allan Yorke Park.

"That was always good, dry land," Moriarty said. "It will be a really nice park. My folks would be happy."

Dennis Box can be reached at

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