November 20, 2000
Watertenders angered by paving at Daniels Creek Park
by Wendy Walsh
Special to the Weekly
"I am deeply saddened by what I see happening at Daniel's Creek Park," said Terry Lavender, a member of Watertenders who has spent countless hours as an Adopt-A-Park volunteer since 1993.
In the past several weeks, King County Construction Facilities paved over most of the entire grassy and graveled-road area between the old farm buildings and the Woodinville-Duvall Road. There are 18 parking places, and a school bus turnaround area.
According to former County Councilmember Audrey Gruger, the original intent of the Open Space purchase was to protect the wetland.
Judy Westall, Watertender who interviewed Gruger, quotes her as saying the idea was to have a passive natural park with occasional educational programs for school children to understand wetlands in their most natural state.
The Watertenders' group is concerned that the intention to keep the area as natural as possible has been jeapordized.
A meeting between Watertenders and King County officials representing King County Parks was held on Friday, Nov. 17, at Daniels Creek Park to sort out the issues.
In attendance were 11 Watertender members, and 11 County Parks representatives. The large turnout by the Parks officials indicated a strong need to connect with the community and address their concerns.
Connie Blumen, Parks Dept. Program Manager introduced the history of the project and the Master Plan which was created in 1989 for the site but never implemented.
There were several public hearings between 1990 and 1992, but nothing since then.
According to Bud Parker, supervisor of Construction and Facilities, a permit was first issued in 1995 and had been renewed. However, funding only became available recently allowing the project to go forward.
Gwen Maxfield, Watertender, remarked that she had understood that previous funding was diverted to Cottage Lake Park, and the community was under the impression that the original Master Plan was not going to be implemented. There was no notification to the Bear Creek community that funding was available and the parking lot was going to be constructed.
"It was a terrible oversight on the County's part that the Watertenders and the community were not notified about the project," said Barbara Wright, KC Parks Administrator of Program Development and Land Management.
Everyone attending the meeting agreed that it was productive to have a dialogue about the process.
Some of the confusion centered on the Cold Creek Park site management plan which was presented at several community meetings.
The plan recognized the significance of the Big Bear Creek Wetland #10, comprising 230 acres of Class I wetland and over 100 acres in public ownership.
"[At the public meetings] the community was very clear about protecting the entire area, including Daniels Creek Park" said Juanita Verschuyl, who attended the meetings. "When the issue of paved parking came up, we all agreed that we wanted to keep the grassy areas and graveled parking only, and to limit the parking to a minimum. The County representatives gave the impression they agreed with us."
The site management plan states, "Facilities existing at Daniels Creek Park could serve the natural area and provide limited parking, trash receptacles, and perhaps sani-cans appropriate to an interpretive center."
In fact, according to Parker, the interpretive shelter is what created the need for a parking lot.
According to the building code, the former chicken coop can not be restored to create an interpretive shelter without paved parking, including a handicapped area.
The discussion at the meeting began to focus on how much use this site should have for school field trips and whether it is appropriate for this use. Several people at the meeting suggested that Cottage Lake Park is more appropriate.
Much of the problem seems to be centered around the fact that the plans being implemented were designed over 10 years ago, before the Cold Creek Park acquistion.
Also, the vision of the community for Daniels Creek Park may be different from the goals of King County Parks.
Terry Lavender expressed concern that paving was done under an outdated permit, right next to a Class I wetland, and newer restrictions and regulations were not required.
Lavender has been closely involved with Waterways 2000 property purchases and is actively connected with County officials on a regular basis.
She feels frustration and concern that this project went forward without review by involved representatives.
According to Barbara Wright, the work has been halted on the project until the Parks people meet with community representatives to determine where to go next.
Dick Schatzel remarked that "This parking lot is atrocious ... it invites a lot of people, and that is not what is appropriate here."
The 11 Watertenders attending the meeting seemed to be unified in their criticism of the paved area. However, the County representatives made it clear that they are only following the code for utilizing the buildings as shelters.
The conflict seems to be between an older vision of utilizing the property as an educational center and a different vision of minimizing use and leaving the area natural.
Barbara Wright suggested several more meetings between KC Parks and the local community to revisit the project.
The next meeting will be with the Upper Bear Creek Community Council, on Nov. 28 at the Woodinville Water District offices. There may be another additional meeting, yet to be determined.
In organizing the meeting at Daniels Creek Park, Lavender said, "They need to know that we still have a voice that needs to be listened to. We are the community to whom these properties belong."