Northwest NEWS

May 17, 1999

Front Page

Community efforts lead to Wilmot Gateway Park opening

Wilmot Gateway Park

One of the most impressive structures at the new Wilmot Gateway Park is this steel pavilion that spans the park's three entrances.
Photo by Alice Swartz.


Woodinville Garden Club members, including Vi Kono, were on hand with other garden club members to put the finishing touches on the park.
Photo by Lane Youngblood.

by Marshall Haley, staff reporter

   The playground is up, the fences are coming down, Leota Junior High's Jazz Ensemble will lend melodic ambiance, kayaks will be availabe for rent from Klub, and the Woodinville Yacht Club will launch its fleet.

   This happens on Saturday, May 22, at 2 p.m., when the community celebrates the grand opening of Wilmot Gateway Park on the Sammamish River. Mayor Don Brocha will open the short ceremony and Representative Jay Inslee will speak.

   "The dedication will thank the hundreds of volunteers, donors, civic groups, and all citizens who rolled up their sleeves to help design and build this fantastic regional resource," said Parks and Recreation Director Lane Youngblood, who has guided the park's development.

   Shuttle service will transport the community from the Park & Ride at 140th NE and NE 179th, starting at 1 p.m. The few parking spots available at the park will be limited to cars with handicap permits. The city will supply coffee, cookies, and punch.

   On Sunday, May 23, the celebration continues with "Cycle into Spring" from noon to 4 p.m. The event will feature free bike maintenance checks by Golden Egg Sports and Woodinville Cycle; a Bike Rodeo by the Woodinville Fire & Life Safety District; and a demonstration of adaptive cycles and instruction for children and adults with disabilities, sponsored by the Ski-for-All Foundation.

   The multi-purpose Wilmot Gateway Park, located at 17301 NE 131st Ave. NE (on the South bypass), features a durable children's playground on the north end next to public restrooms; a park-length lawn sloping down to a non-motorized boat launch on the river; raised planter boxes and walkways that encase donor bricks and tiles; and a steel pavilion that spans the park's three entryways.

   "This is an astounding feat, that a community of our size could contribute such a facility to the region. It is a tribute to a longstanding tradition of neighbors, friends, and businesses collaborating to bring such a large project to fruition," said Youngblood.

   The Woodinville Rotary and Woodinville Garden Club, Molbak's, Hos Bros. Construction, and the DeYoung family were especially instrumental in the park's development, Youngblood said.

   The Woodinville Rotary has donated well over $100,000, including funds for the playground equipment. The Rotary also formed the nucleus of volunteers, together with the Woodinville Lions Club and members of Boy Scout Troop 422, who constructed the playground.

   The Woodinville Garden Club donated $20,000 from 10 years' worth of fund raising. The DeYoung family donated $50,000 to ensure the pavilion construction.

   The park opening culminates an incubation period of almost 89 years, since the first Fourth of July celebration--with horse races--was held on the site in June of 1910.

   When the city incorporated in March, 1993, one of the first council moves was to instruct staff to pursue grants for acquisition and development of "Woodinville's First Park" on property along the Sammamish River. The 6-acre site was purchased in August 1994 for $1.6 million. The city paid $300,000; the Aquatics Lands Enhancement Program and the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program kicked in $500,000; and the King County Conservation Futures bonds contributed $800,000.

   The landscape design firm Jongejan, Gerrard and McNeal (JGM) of Bellevue was hired in June 1995 to head the project. Lewis Architects designed the buildings, and the general contractor was C.A. Carey of Issaquah. In June 1998, Hos Bros. Construction donated major site work. In October of 1998, more than 500 volunteers planted native vegetation along the river bank.

   The city had dedicated the park to Jerry Wilmot in August 1994, five months before his passing. Wilmot had been recognized as an outstanding citizen, and was a City of Woodinville founding father, Woodinville Rotary member, president of Molbak's, and a fighter pilot veteran of two tours of duty in Vietnam.

   "Jerry was self-disciplined, a superb athlete," said Don Fitzpatrick, one of Wilmot's friends and a fellow Rotarian. "He was an inspiration to us all. I'm happy to see the park named after him."

   "You always knew where you stood with Jerry," said Egon Molbak, for whose nursery Wilmot served as general manager and president from 1977-92. "There were no grey areas for Jerry, everything was black and white. He was very focused and did an excellent job for us (Molbak's). When the Rotary Club chapter was starting here, I told Jerry he would have to represent us, since I was a charter member in the Bothell chapter and didn't want to leave. He resisted at first, but once he started helping them plan, he got so involved that he became their first president. Jerry didn't do anything halfway."

   A bronze plaque inside the park's southern entryway reads: "This park is dedicated to Jerry Wilmot, whose integrity and spirited leadership in local business and community affairs were inspirational to all who knew him. He enhanced public discourse as one of Woodinville's first Planning Commissioners, served as Director of the Chamber of Commerce, and chaired numerous civic committees. Prior to his death at age 50 from Lou Gehrig's disease (ALS), he inspired many through his leadership in the Woodinville Rotary Club and took a special interest in mentoring young people. As an ironman triathlete, avid bicyclist, and mountain climber, he spent many hours training on the Sammamish River Trail. This park, which involved the dedication of so many individuals, reminds us of his quiet strength and the indelible mark he made on this community."