March 12, 2001
by Wendy Walsh
When Connie Blumen, Program manager for Daniels Creek Park came to the Upper Bear Creek UAC meeting on Feb. 27 she had to deal with the fact that the Park is improperly named.
Nancy Stafford, chair of the UAC discovered that years ago someone had made a mistake on naming two local creeks. In fact, Daniels Creek originates behind the Bear Creek Elementary School, from what was originally the Daniels family homestead. What we call Daniels Creek, is really Crystal Creek, originating from Crystal Lake in Snohomish County. In presenting the Daniels Creek Master Plan Recommendations, Blumen was asked to hold off on erecting a sign until this controversy gets resolved.
An audience member suggested that the sign designate the whole three-unit area as a natural resource area rather than a park, since the use is restricted. It was commented that when the public sees the word "park" they think of walking the dog, or playing with the children, and this area is not ecologically suited for this use. Most of the lands are wetlands.
After several meetings with the community, Blumen, parks program manager presented a master plan summary of recommendations for the Daniels Creek section.
This includes two phases, with funding currently available to complete phase l only: 1) The existing parking lot will be retained. 2) The chicken coop will be renovated and may possibly include later improvements for renting the facility. 3) A sign will be placed at the entrance; 4) Trails will be installed and there will be picnic tables and a portable toilet; all will be ADA accessible. The area will be gated.
Phase 2 will include further improvements including water and electricity and possible access to the Cold Creek area.
Local community members expressed concern and disappointment about these Parks recommendations.
"It sounds to me like they are just going ahead with their original plan, and haven't taken our recommendations into consideration," remarked Terry Lavender of Water Tenders.
Water Tenders and the Unincorporated councils have both felt they represented the majority community input which prefers to keep this park property as a natural resource area, including all three properties. Formal requests were made to reduce the size of the parking lot, minimize the use of the interpretive shelter with no future rentals, and have no formal parking in the Cold Creek area. It was suggested that by keeping it simple, the cost of maintenance would be low and Parks money could be used for Cottage Lake Park or other parks.
Many members of the community already use the area for birdwatching and walks and enjoy experiencing one of the few remaining original natural areas.
"It is nice to be able to keep some areas in their original state ..." remarked Juanita Verschuyl.
Nancy Stafford, Chair of the UBC UAC, expressed being "still troubled that the County is still viewing the three properties as separate, rather than one unique natural resource area." This concern comes partially from the fact that two different people are assigned to administer each area, and may have different ideas about maintenance and facilities.
Judy Westall from the community said, "It looks to me that Parks listened to our remarks, and they are more sensitive to our concerns, but other than that, not a whole lot has changed. They are still going ahead with their plans."
Lavender pointed out that there are deed restrictions on the Cold Creek Wetland area, which would restrict agricultural maintenance of the blueberry Farm. The property was purchased "with the primary purpose of protecting high quality aquatic resources, salmonids in particular."
Additional meetings are planned.
The controversy is directly connected with the mandate to follow the guidelines under which the original purchase was made, which was to protect, not develop the natural resource area.
There will be further meetings to resolve these issues.