Kenmore hears from its public

  • Written by Don Mann
Rhododendron Park
Photo courtesy of City of Kenmore Kenmore’s Rhododendron Park
Updating its park, recreation and open space (PROS) plan as mandated by the state — and, more significantly, keeping itself eligible for the small portions of grant money that gets doled out — the city of Kenmore held a town hall meeting on parks at City Hall last Monday prior to its regularly scheduled city council meeting.

About two dozen concerned citizens attended, providing feedback to city questions raised about existing and future park and recreation opportunities in Kenmore.

For example: What do you currently like about Kenmore parks that you would like to see preserved?

What in Kenmore’s parks would you like to see changed? Are there any facilities or improvements or programs you would like to see in Kenmore parks that are missing? Are there any unmet recreational needs in the city? What park improvements do you think should be a priority?

As background, the city of about 22,000 residents (Bothell has about 33,000 residents; Woodinville about 11,000) owns about 105 acres of park property in seven parks with approximately 84 percent in passive use, or unimproved from its natural state.

The parks include Linwood, Logboom, Moorlands, Northshore Summit, Rhododendron, Squires Landing and Wallace Swamp Creek. The city will add another 27 acres in Twin Springs, the result of a land transfer agreement with King County in lieu of mitigation of the Brightwater portal construction on 80th Ave. NE, estimated for completion in late 2014.

The state owns the 316-acre St. Edward State Park including the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife boat launch.

King County owns the Burke-Gilman Trail, which extends 18-miles from Ballard to Bothell.

Kenmore Councilmember Brent Smith skillfully emceed the town hall meeting Monday, as citizen questions and suggestions were written on a white board and each topic was approached with civility and respect — and even a sense of humor —  from citizens and council members alike.

An elderly citizen, claiming she’s lived near the greenbelt for 24 years, asked why undeveloped Northshore Summit Park couldn’t be left the way it is.

“I can’t imagine why we just can’t leave it alone,” she said.

She was gently reminded by Councilmember Laurie Sperry that in addition to the 105 acres of parks in Kenmore there exists 92 acres of wetlands with abundant opportunity for citizens’ wildlife viewing.

Councilmember Allen Van Ness said the plans for Northshore Summit remain consistent with the master plan established in 2006, and the vast majority of the 3.7 acre neighborhood park will remain untainted with only drainage improvements and a small playground facility with a picnic area on the docket.

“I understand your concerns,” Van Ness said. “But the thing we need is to reach some compromises where we can improve it for the people that want a bit of activity, where they can go take the kids, a small playground, a picnic area, but retain a sense of nature. I think we can reach a happy medium.”

Another Northshore Summit neighbor said she was in favor of a small playground and picnic area, but asked that the picnic tables be uncovered.

“Focus on a playground for younger kids, not teenagers,” she said, apparently fearful of vandalism.

“A covered area will invite teens to hang out there when probably they shouldn’t be hanging out there.”

There were head-nods but no comments from council members, and the focus shifted to an item bandied about since Kenmore incorporated in 1998: a pedestrian and bicycle bridge over SR-522 (Bothell Way) linking to the Burke-Gilman Trail, Logboom Park and Lake Washington.

Whether biking or walking, crossing that six-lane highway, even at its traffic-lighted intersections one citizen said, especially during rush hours with Metro buses chugging east and west in the 45 mph zone, is both dangerous and daunting.

That same citizen, noting Kenmore Camera will soon be leaving its present location at 67th Ave. NE, just a stone’s throw north of 522, suggested the timing for a pedestrian bridge was right.

He thought it was worthwhile for the Kenmore powers-that-be to do an engineering study of its feasibility, just to get a price.

“What does it cost?” he asked. “I think we could rally a lot of public support for that. The trail is a wonderful resource … the timing’s there, the property’s there and it’s a great location that feeds our downtown area.”

(Only two weeks earlier the Kenmore council cheerfully reported a land sale agreement with Kenmore Camera, filling a large void in its erstwhile Kenmore Village plans to link its downtown village hopes to walkability to the lake.)

Kenmore Councilmember Bob Hensel thought it was a worthwhile suggestion, citing that a year ago University of Washington-Bothell graduate engineering students were tasked by council, for school credit, with creating models to literally bridge that gap. There were some variations:  An overpass was obvious; an underpass was less so.

Both, however, are exorbitantly expensive and the city has no money for that in its general budget.

It’ll come down to a bond issue, paid by the taxpayers a little bit over a long time, if the overwhelming (60 percent) majority of the people really want it.

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