No plans to reopen Black Nugget Road
March 2, 2009
By Chantelle Lusebrink
Of the more than 60 people packed into Blakely Hall Feb. 24, only two raised their hands in support of reopening Southeast Black Nugget Road; the rest were there to speak in opposition.
While there were no official plans to open the roadway to traffic again, city officials wanted to get a sense of how residents felt about reopening the blocked-off road.
“I remember multiple Issaquah community meetings where the topic to open Black Nugget was brought up this summer. Compound that with the written request and it was time to get the community together,” said Keith Niven, program manager for the city’s Major Development Review Team.
A Dec. 12 e-mail from Kjersten Hayter, a resident, added to the comments.
“It is a waste of money to have a road that could be enormously beneficial to mail delivery, garbage pickups, school buses and transportation to businesses in the highlands, but instead is maintained by the city and rendered completely useless,” Hayter wrote.
“Opening Black Nugget would negatively impact me because it’s my neighborhood,” resident Chris Hawkins said at the meeting. “But I’d rather travel down there than have to travel through Park Drive, especially with new retail going in there.”
Southeast Black Nugget Road was blocked off as part of an agreement made between King County officials, highlands developer Port Blakely and neighboring residents on the road.
When the highlands began developing, Black Nugget was used as its only entry and exit. Without significant improvements, the road wouldn’t be able to handle the traffic created by the highlands, so when more than 500 homes or units were built, the road was closed with blocks that can be removed in case of emergency. The road has remained closed since.
If reopening the road was something residents would’ve wanted at the meeting, Niven said he could recommend the City Council draft a request to the county to have it opened. Because the roadway is county-owned, the decision ultimately rests with county officials, he said.
But the majority of neighboring residents, many who have lived in the area for decades, disagreed with the reopening.
Residents cited several reasons for keeping it closed, such as safety for children who play at the nearby park, wildlife in the area, increased traffic noise, potential crime and the construction modifications necessary to make the road operational.
Lane Scelzi, owner of Sip Wine Bar and Restaurant, said the businesses on Park Drive that rely on drive-by business would be adversely affected by a second entrance.
Black Nugget Road neighbors also said an agreement shouldn’t be broken to save a few people a couple of minutes off of their commute time.
In light of the overwhelming opposition, Niven said he would recommend the City Council not take any further action.
Reach Reporter Chantelle Lusebrink at 392-6434, ext. 241, or email@example.com. Comment on this story at www.issaquahpress.com.