Upgrades for Cottage Lake Park, but what about the lake?
by Jeff Switzer
King County's plans for Cottage Lake Park have run into some criticism from some members of the Cottage Lake Area Council, the same council that worked on the master plan for the park.
Local residents voiced their concerns to the county in a meeting Nov. 20; complaints ranged from the location of the gathering area to the 150-foot setbacks required for the stream flowing through the park.
Mike Rice, project manager, responded to the speakers. "The plans are consistent with the master plan which was supported by the Area Council," he said. "We may realign the picnic area, but the setbacks are mandated by the Bear Creek Basin Plan."
Many area residents believe the park should be primarily people-oriented rather than wildlife habitat for waterfowl and fish. They note the extensive damage to the land from more than 20 years of park and RV use.
But along with the park issue, area residents are going to have to decide what to do about the lake itself. A study released last February said the frequent and intense algal blooms in the spring and the fall degrade the lake for recreational uses, including swimming, boating, and fishing.
This time last year, area residents met to discuss the possibility of forming a lake management district (LMD) which would collect taxes to implement the proposed lake management plan. Since that time, interest has tapered off, and some key proponents of the concept have moved away.
If all of the recommendations in the lake management plan are implemented, it would cost $987,600, the bulk of which is construction of a hypolimnetic aeration system ($495,600), buffered alum treatment ($153,000), and $100,000 for design and engineering of the aeration system.
The aeration system is designed to move oxygen to the bottom strata of the lake without mixing the water levels, limiting the amount of phosphorus release from sediment and increasing food and habitat for cold-water fish. The buffered alum treatment is designed as a short-term fix, designed to also prevent the phosphorus release from sediment. The two treatments are to coincide with the limiting of phosphorus loading from the 4,300-acre Cottage Lake Watershed in northern King County and south Snohomish County.
The plan also proposes retaining 65 percent of the forest cover in the watershed and revegetation of the shoreline around the 63-acre lake, thereby preventing runoff which currently goes unhindered into the lake, taking fertilizer and sediment with it.
The management plan is currently before the Utility and Natural Resources Committee of the King County Council. While some existing county programs would cover smaller pieces of the plan, such as stormwater treatment, ditch maintenance, and milfoil prevention, funding the plan would depend heavily upon the creation of a lake management district.
"We've still got a good cadre of people, and we can call on them for additional support when the time comes," said Chuck Eberhart.