Soccer club could be key to future of Klahanie Park
March 30, 2010
By Warren Kagarise
The process to transfer the county-run Klahanie Park to Sammamish has slowed, as King County officials and the Issaquah Soccer Club discuss ways to keep the park open.
As representatives from the soccer club and the county review a potential partnership, Issaquah City Council members decided last week to postpone a decision on a proposed agreement offered by King County. The agreement lays the foundation to transfer the park to Sammamish in the short term.
Officials said the discussion between the soccer club and the county remains in the early stage.
Issaquah and Sammamish officials often suggested the soccer club as a potential partner to keep the park open. King County plans to shut down the park within months if a new operator cannot be found.
Issaquah Parks & Recreation Director Anne McGill cited the 30-year relationship between the soccer club and Lake Sammamish State Park as proof of a successful public-private partnership. The soccer club leases fields from the park and handles field maintenance. The park takes care of other maintenance, such as garbage collection.
“This is a very steady, reputable organization,” she said last week. “They don’t break off and go into splinter groups. Whatever arguments they have within, they solve it.”
McGill briefed Issaquah council members last week at a Council Services & Safety Committee meeting. Committee members postponed discussion on the Klahanie Park proposal until late April. About a dozen Klahanie residents and representatives from the soccer club attended the March 24 meeting.
“You guys have been the only sliver of hope for us, and you really helped us navigate some of these political waters,” Concerned Citizens of Klahanie member Michelle Kolano told committee members.
Although Klahanie borders Issaquah and Sammamish, only Issaquah can annex the neighborhood until both cities rewrite long-term growth plans.
Under the proposal offered by King County, if the county transferred ownership of the park to Sammamish in the short term, the city that eventually annexes the unincorporated Klahanie neighborhood will receive the park as part of the annexation.
The proposal represented a move by King County Parks Director Kevin Brown to address a long list of concerns raised by Klahanie residents.
Concerned Citizens of Klahanie, a residents group, opposed the notion of Sammamish upgrading the facility. Opponents contend changes could alter the character of the park and attract more outsiders and traffic to the neighborhood.
“What I thought the county did well was listen to the arguments we had heard from the residents of Klahanie, which was, that you can’t split us off,” Issaquah Councilman Mark Mullet said.
Meanwhile, Sammamish officials worry about losing money for upgrades and park maintenance in the event Sammamish takes the park in the meantime and Issaquah someday annexes Klahanie. Sammamish leaders raised concerns about the proposal at a March 9 joint meeting of the Issaquah and Sammamish councils.
“As this memorandum is currently written, from my conversations with city of Sammamish council members, they do not have any interest in signing this particular document,” Issaquah Councilwoman Eileen Barber said last week.
The cash-strapped county wants to offload dozens of parks and facilities to save money. The county plans to transfer ownership of 16 parks by June 2011 through annexations of county land by nearby cities. Agreements under consideration and potential annexations could remove another 13 facilities from the closure list.
Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.