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Community closeup: Cottage Lake

Cottage Lake by Wendy Walsh
In 1966, a Woodinville family was driving home from Central America and crossed into the U.S. at the Arizona border. Unbelievably, one of the first signs on the road was an ad for "Norm's Resort at Cottage Lake in Woodinville." It was a great welcome home after a year away, but more than anything, it spoke of the far reaches of Norm Fragner's marketing skills.
   Back then, Cottage Lake was about the only thing anyone recognized about Woodinville. Huge picnics and concerts were held there, and almost everyone locally learned to swim at Cottage Lake's Red Cross classes. Most memorable were tales of swimmers' itch, which afflicted almost everyone.
   Cottage Lake was always jumping with activities of some sort. Oldtimers tell tales of seeing a mysterious figure come down to the lake with a bottle of bleach just before the water quality was checked by the County Health Department.
   Neighbors remember midnight expeditions to cut the wires on the speakers after an especially loud rock concert was held at Norm's Resort. The residents of the lake were often not amused at having to clean up leftover litter which floated ashore after one of the large events.
   All of this changed after Norm's Resort was sold to American Adventures, and then later became a county park. In the old days, Norm's was a uniting force in many ways. It was a place the extended community shared, and where the residents around the lake were united in having something to complain about.
   On the lakeshore were some very old homes, some of which were homesteaded and are now on the historic register. Life was simpler when people first moved to this area in the late 1880s, and homes were smaller. Now, many of the original dwellings are being torn down and replaced by larger homes. Taxes have gone up, and older residents are finding many neighbors have moved away.
   The original Cottage Lake Community Club membership has changed considerably, and the issues are mainly around giving input about the park and concerns about pollution. As one member put it: "There is no sense of urgency about issues right now, so people don't find reasons to come together, like they used to."
   The central focus of the Cottage Lake neighborhood has shifted to the Woodinville Library on Avondale.
   "Building relationships are what this library is about," librarian Don Julien said. Families come to the weekly children's story hours, where children can meet other children and parents can visit with each other.
   Children are encouraged to come to the library as they would come to a park. The staff is encouraged to help neighbors feel this is a fun place to visit. The conference room is used by local homeowner associations, and for 4-H meetings, seminars, and other neighborhood events.
   Other focal points in the Cottage Lake Neighborhood are the schools: Cottage Lake and Bear Creek elementary schools. Families create community around school activities with their children.
   There are also quite a few churches around Cottage Lake. The first real church was the Cottage Lake Presbyterian Church, built in 1950. One of the founders is Edith Knudsen, who still participates in the community.