Klahanie Park closer to transfer of ownership

November 3, 2009

By J.B. Wogan

The King County Parks Department has taken a major step toward ceding Klahanie Park to the city of Sammamish.Kevin Brown, director of King County Parks, sent an e-mail to a Klahanie homeowner Oct. 29 announcing that the county was moving forward with transferring the park to Sammamish.

“I think the intent here is that folks want to see the park open and available to the public,” Brown said in a later interview.

Since September, the city of Sammamish has pursued taking over the park as a way to avoid the closure of a public park on the city’s southeast border.

Brown said the decision to transfer the park to Sammamish came after discussions with the parks directors at the cities of Sammamish and Issaquah.

Brown said that the Klahanie Association had expressed interest in taking over the park, but the county felt it was in the public’s best interest to transfer the park to another public agency.

The park, built in the early 1990s and located between Southeast 32nd Street and Southeast Klahanie Boulevard, is 64.11 acres with one baseball field, two soccer fields and a restroom. The fields are natural grass and are not lighted.

The park costs about $95,000 a year to operate, according to King County Parks. The transfer of ownership will not cost Sammamish anything.

The transfer still needs the blessing of the King County Council and the Sammamish City Council.

Brown said the County Council would probably vote on the transfer before the end of 2009. Before the council votes, the county would hold public hearings, which aren’t on the schedule yet.

Don Gerend, Sammamish’s mayor, said he sensed the Sammamish City Council supported the transfer and would vote in favor of it. No one on the council has spoken out against the transfer in the council’s two brief discussions on the subject.

George Whitehouse, a Klahanie resident, said he wasn’t happy to hear Sammamish might take over the neighborhood park.

“I have no say with the county or the city of Sammamish,” Whitehouse said. Klahanie sits in unincorporated King County, which has one King County Council representative (Kathy Lambert) on the nine-person council.

Whitehouse said the park doesn’t have enough street parking, but it’s in good shape otherwise. His concern lies in what Sammamish might do to the park after the takeover.

“Are they going to do everything there that they couldn’t do at Beaver Lake?” He asked, referring to an ongoing city process to change Beaver Lake Park. Residents around Beaver Lake have protested city plans to add lights and turf fields, which would create more opportunities to use the field but would also create noise and lighting issues.

Whitehouse said he’s worried that Klahanie Park will end up getting the noise and light pollution that Beaver Lake residents reject.

Klahanie Park is one of 39 county parks that King County Executive Kurt Triplett proposed to mothball in August.

Triplett has said the county would save $2.3 million per year if it relinquished control of the parks.

The King County Council would probably vote on mothballing the parks Nov. 19, according to Al Sanders, a spokesman for the council.

If Klahanie Park does go to Sammamish, Klahanie residents would still have a limited say as to what happens to the park. In October, the Sammamish City Council approved a change to its Parks Commission, so one nonresident can join the commission and make policy recommendations to the council.

Reporter J.B. Wogan can be reached at 392-6434, ext. 247, or jbwogan@isspress.com. To comment on this story, visit www.SammamishReview.com.

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