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Community Close-up: Ring Hill

Ring Hill by Wendy Walsh, Community Editor
Ring Hill isn't exactly a neighborhood. It is a large hill located east of upper Bear Creek, which contains several new developments, but consists mainly of partially hidden homes.
   Years ago, the old Woodinville-Duvall Road was the main access to the area. Until recently, there was an old shed just before 232nd, which was a horse and buggy stop on the way to Duvall.
   Most Ring Hill residents live off 232nd, the long north-south road on the top of the hill. It was on this road that the Ring family owned property, giving the area its name. However, Ring Hill's main claim to fame was the Old Garbage Dump.
   The Ring Hill Garbage Dump was a form of community in itself. On Sundays, the "man of the house" would meet neighbors there while taking care of the family garbage. To the despair of their wives, the men would often return home with treasures discarded by someone else. There were several homes next to the dump inhabited by folks who picked over the good stuff and had a little trade on the side; it was a place of character, which also attracted bears and other wildlife. When the Dump closed, people sort of lost track of Ring Hill.
   Then there was O'Brien's Lake. This was a controversial private project which was intended for water skiing. Located right on top of the hill, it created headlines, not only because of doubt about permits for such a project, but also because the owner was implicated in a drug smuggling operation. The Lake has since changed hands and is now privately owned, and renamed Radar Lake.
   The south end of Ring Hill contains the expanding development of Lake of the Woods. The man-made lake in that neighborhood also has had a colorful history. Originally, it was formed when the developer, Mr. Welcome, dammed up Struve Creek in order to build a California-type development. The plan in 1966 was to build condominiums and townhouses and pipe the sewage into a sewer lagoon on Bear Creek.
   There was an enormous battle as a result, and the entire Bear Creek Valley martialed forces to fight the project. Neighborhoods formed community councils, and the project was eventually stopped. All of Bear Creek Valley was rezoned to one-acre lots, which was the beginning of protective land use zoning in King County. The lake changed hands and was renamed several times, until the existing Lake of the Woods neighborhood was built.
   The western boundary of Ring Hill is accessed by 212th Street. For years, the roads around 212th were unpaved. Neighbors there speak of potholes which were so large "you could drive right in them and out the other side."
   Ring Hill attracted folks who wanted to live in the woods and be left alone. It was the best of worlds to be able to commute to the city and live in nature. The El Paso Natural Gas line which bisects the hill has been a migratory trail for wildlife, so spotting bobcats, foxes, bears, and even cougars was not unusual.
   Times are changing, however. Saybrook is a large development which includes Eastridge Elementary School on its southwest edge. To the southeast, Lake of the Woods East is building more than 80 homes. To the northeast, Ring Hill Estates is planning a large project.
   Wildlife is being squeezed out of its habitat, so gardens are being raided by deer. People who never used to lock their doors are now finding a need for guard dogs and security devices. However, the negative trappings of suburbanization have given way to a community of caring people. These neighborhoods bring new life and commitments to the emergence of the Greater Woodinville Community.