Press Editorial

January 5, 2010

By Staff

Correction: The following editorial was published Jan. 6 in The Issaquah Press. Parks & Recreation Director Anne McGill explains that the city is putting out a Request for Qualifications to seek to hire an architectural designer for the new park. Two or three design firms will be chosen to develop conceptual site plans based on specific criteria, and a final firm will be selected by city parks staff to begin gathering community comments.

Let the community help design new park

When the city of Issaquah asked voters to approve a parks bond in 2006, one of the most enticing items to be funded was land that would expand city-owned property for the future Cybil-Madeline Park along Issaquah Creek.City leaders have always said they want Cybil-Madeline Park to be “world class,” and that they wanted the community to be involved with deciding just what that means.

City officials are about to put out a request for proposals from park designers to create their own vision of the park, and then let citizens provide feedback.

That’s certainly one way to get there, but in Issaquah — where park advocates are vocal and diverse — it’s the wrong approach.

Park Director Anne McGill need only look at what happened when a plan for redevelopment of Lake Sammamish State Park was put forth about 10 years ago. The citizens quickly tore it apart and the state started over with a citizen advisory committee and a community survey. New plans for the state park are dramatically different than they were first proposed.

McGill explains that Cybil-Madeline Park comes with all kinds of nuances to consider, from historic buildings that must be preserved to the creekside concerns and their environmental considerations. However, those preambles must be relayed to the park designers and can just as easily be conveyed to the public.

Given the tight city budget, the contracting of a park designer to gather community input seems extraneous. And given the city’s success with advisory committees (example: Pickering Farm), the request for proposals seems premature.

We hope the City Council agrees and asks the administration to hold up the request for proposals, or at least rewrite it to delay a park design until after the community can get excited about “their” new park.

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