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Home » Archives » January 2007 » Robert F. Buck Family Sells Land For Affordable Housing

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01/23/2007: "Robert F. Buck Family Sells Land For Affordable Housing"

ig_Buck_Land-1 (117k image)
( One Third of the 46 Acre Parcel outlined in blue will be made available to Home Trust)

Robert F. Buck's three children and their spouses have agreed to sell one-third of their 46 acres to a supporter of the Home Trust, and to collaborate on the creation of permanently affordable housing. The San Juan Community Home Trust announced the new partnership with Vincent and Jane Buck, Carolyn and Bob Norman, and Jai and Bequin Boreen. The land is adjacent to the former gravel pit, and within several blocks of Friday Harbor Elementary school.

The vision shared by the Buck family and the Home Trust is for a high quality mixture of detached single-family homes, town homes and co-housing, with an emphasis both on fitting in with island traditions and green building techniques. The goal would also be to provide for a diversity of family incomes and ages, including homes specifically for seniors. Both the Home Trust and the Buck family are interested in cooperating with the Trails Committee to provide a pedestrian access route from town to both the future park on the gravel pit site and Jackson Beach.

Home Trust board members Larry Soll and Peter Kilpatrick, and local realtor (and Buck cousin) Sam Buck Jr. facilitated the agreement with the owners. Kilpatrick said, "We need to really acknowledge the Buck family's contribution as being much more than just a land sale. They feel strongly that it is something that their father would have supported as a lasting contribution to this community."

Their father, Bob Buck, was San Juan County Prosecuting Attorney from 1947 to 1952, succeeding his father Sam Buck Sr. in that position. According to Vincent Buck, "He strongly believed that we all have an obligation to make a positive contribution to the communities we live in. It was his hallmark. He also would have appreciated the integration of income levels that this affordable housing neighborhood will bring to Friday Harbor."

Bob Buck's many contributions in both Seattle and in Friday Harbor included: first president of OPALCO, Friday Harbor Port Commissioner, President of the Washington Bankers Association, Chairman of the Virginia Mason Medical Center, Chairman of the Economic Development Council of Puget Sound, President of the Pacific Northwest Trade Association, President of the Rainier Club, and President of the University of Washington Alumni Association. His work included being Deputy Administrator of the Small Business Administration in Washington D.C. during the late 1950's, and Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Rainier Bank in Seattle during the 1960's and 70's.

Bob's first wife, and the mother of Vincent and Carolyn, was Georgina Templin Buck, whose family has even deeper roots in the islands, stemming back to the Hudson Bay Company's Bellevue Farm in 1850. Her great grandfather, Robert Firth, lived in the house at American Camp that is now known as Captain George Pickett's house. Her parents owned and operated Templin's Store in Eastsound for many years.

Bob's second wife, Barbara, is Jai Boreen's mother. She continues to live in a family home near Shipyard Cove and is active in civic affairs in Friday Harbor and Seattle. Buck Park, near Eastsound, is located on land donated by Bob and Barbara Buck to the county in 1980.

A number of steps are required before any development will take place, including the expansion of the county-designated Urban Growth Area around the Town of Friday Harbor. This will require an agreement by the Town and the County and subsequent annexation of the parcel into the Town. According to Home Trust board member Larry Soll, "This is an opportunity for the Town and the County to significantly increase the number of permanently affordable homes on San Juan Island."

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