Northwest NEWS

December 18, 2000

Features

Public discusses future of natural areas with King County Parks

by Wendy Walsh
   Special to the Weekly
   A third meeting between King County Parks and the local community regarding the future of the Cold Creek/Basset Pond and Daniels Creek natural areas was held on Dec. 11 at the Water District office.
   The meeting was attended by 20 local residents who listened to the presentation by five King County staff members.
   Connie Blumen, Program Manager, discussed six categories of park system properties. This includes sites which offer passive and active recreation, special management areas, and natural resource areas.
   "In natural areas," she explained, "it is important to determine and evaluate the site's ability to support public uses."
   While the three park properties had been purchased separately, they are now being viewed as one natural resource area.
   The question is, should Daniel's Creek provide parking for the whole area, and how much is adequate for the future?
   The other County presenters summarized their vision as consistent with protecting the natural resource area, but allowing for small interpretive groups, birdwatching and naturalist enjoyment.
   A resident asked if this meant restricting people from walking on the properties?
   The combined response from Parks was that there were no restrictions, but that the marshy wetlands made it difficult for walking, so the natural limitations were obvious.
   John McCarthy of Parks construction describes plans for a boardwalk, which would be hidden behind vegetation, and would probably be made of recycled materials. Concern was expressed about safety of a boardwalk, which could be slippery. McCarthy said they would design it to be safe.
   Terry Lavender presented the Water Tenders' proposal which was consistent with the original Master Plan which "refers to maintaining the site character as both cultural, with the barn and farm aspect, and natural."
   She expressed concern that the natural elements not be destroyed by more asphalt paving and structures, and hoped that some of the parking lot paving could be removed near the wetland.
   There was no dissent by the community to any of her remarks, but there was interest in knowing more about the Water Tenders.
   Parks' personnel responded by agreeing with the need to preserve the vision of the natural attributes, while still following code requirements. It was suggested if lines needed to be painted for code purposes, that they be black and blend in.
   Chris Mayo and Dee Ingram described Parks interpretive programs as a way of educating children to become future Stewards of wetland areas. They emphasized that small groups use would be limited and would likely coordinate with local school programs.
   Several community members expressed concern about further development. It was expressed that after the Cold Creek meetings, some people weren't sure that the Parks representatives had really listened to what had been said. There was concern that Parks had their own agenda, separate from what the community wants.
   A man who lives near the Park tried to press for specific answers about future Parks plans, and costs to the taxpayers, as well as defined uses.
   Blumen acknowledged that these were questions being discussed in Parks' management meetings, and she would have the answers later. She also expressed her appreciation for the partnership relationship the County felt with members of the Bear Creek Community, and particular gratitude for the Adopt-a-Park activities of the Water Tenders.
   Ray Heller, Bear Creek Basin Steward, emphasized the importance of the combined Daniels Creek, Cold Creek and Basset Pond wetlands to the hydrology of Bear Creek and the Sammamish Basin in keeping the salmon runs healthy.
   There appeared to be agreement within the community that the plan the Water Tenders had presented, represented a unified vision.
   At the end of the meeting there was a request by the community to have Blumen arrange to continue communication with residents of the area. She agreed that it was very important to continue the dialog, and promised to keep local people informed about the decision-making process at King County Parks.