Sammamish city manager addresses Klahanie Park concerns

February 23, 2010

By Staff

In an effort to set the record straight about a possible takeover of Klahanie Park by neighboring Sammamish, Sammamish City Manager Ben Yazici sent a letter to the Klahanie homeowners association Feb. 12.

The letter says the city is trying to prevent the closure of Klahanie Park — nothing more.

“It’s been unsettling to see letters to the editor accusing Sammamish of trying to pull off a ‘land grab,’ and frustrating to see the level of misinformation that has persisted around this issue in recent weeks,” Yazici wrote.

The letter also goes into what Yazici characterized as a miscommunication between Sammamish Parks Director Jessi Richardson and the Klahanie Association, the homeowners group.

Richardson spoke to Klahanie residents at a homeowners association meeting Sept. 29 and said Sammamish would defer the right to take over the park to “them.” When she used the word “them,” Richardson meant the city of Issaquah, not the Klahanie Association, Yazici wrote.

Concerned Citizens of Klahanie, a neighborhood group opposed to the park transfer, planned to rebut, in another letter, the points offered by Yazici.

The group of about 500 residents wants to keep the park inside the Klahanie Potential Annexation Area — about 1,200 acres spread across several subdivisions and home to about 11,000 residents. The group aims to keep the annexation area as a single piece. Otherwise, Klahanie could seem less valuable to communities eyeing the area for annexation.

The letter from Yazici also rejects several rumors about the intentions Sammamish has for the park.

The city does not plan to fence the park, prevent residents from walking dogs there or reduce access for Klahanie residents, he wrote. And, Yazici continued, Sammamish does not have a plan in place to change the park. The city plans to keep the park open and maintain the facility in its existing state, Yazici wrote.

The city manager indicated Sammamish might someday make changes to the park; he said any changes would first be subject to a robust public process. Due to the anemic economy, the city would not even be able to consider changes to the park for at least seven years, he wrote.

Concerned Citizens of Klahanie asked Sammamish officials to specify plans for the park in a Feb. 3 letter to the Sammamish City Council to request for the city to halt plans to acquire the park.

“If Sammamish does acquire Klahanie Park, this park that has been such an important part of our neighborhood will be operated by a jurisdiction that does not even represent us,” group members wrote. “This was never the intent for the park.”

King County proposed closing Klahanie Park and 38 others last summer as a way to save $2.3 million.

The park, built in the early 1990s and located between Southeast 32nd Street and Southeast Klahanie Boulevard, includes 64 acres with a wetland, a baseball diamond, two soccer fields and a restroom. The existing park features unlighted, grass fields.

King County Parks officials estimate the park costs about $95,000 a year to operate. The transfer of ownership would not cost Sammamish anything.

Though the park sits in Klahanie, the Klahanie Association does not own the facility. Klahanie developer Lowe Enterprises Northwest deeded the park to the county in 1994.

For the proposed transfer to be completed, King County Council and Sammamish City Council members would need to approve the deal.

Sammamish City Council members decided to hold off on the park transfer until the city of Issaquah formally decides not to take over the park, meeting notes from the council’s Cle Elum retreat held Jan. 21-23 state.

Issaquah planners continue to review the Klahanie Potential Annexation Area; the land includes the park. Issaquah City Council members will discuss the park Feb. 25.

J.B. Wogan: 392-6434, ext. 247, or jbwogan@isspress.com. Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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