Sammamish decides against taking over Klahanie Park

April 13, 2010

By J.B. Wogan

Sammamish will not become the temporary owner of Klahanie Park, the Sammamish City Council decided last week.

With a 7-0 vote, the council decided against becoming the temporary owner of the park April 6. The city will still work to keep the park open.

King County had offered up the park on a three-year basis and on the condition that if Issaquah annexed the Klahanie development in the future, the park would transfer to Issaquah.

For Sammamish to take it over on a permanent basis, the Sammamish City Council would have to sign off on the transfer, the city of Issaquah would need to remove the park from its potential annexation area and the King County Council would have to give its blessing, too.

None of that may matter now, though. The prospect of paying to maintain the park without having permanent ownership wasn’t all that appetizing to Sammamish’s council.

“Why are we cutting their grass for free? That’s how I see it,” Councilman John Curley said.

Concerned Citizens of Klahanie, a citizen group that opposes Sammamish’s proposed takeover of the park, also turned some council members’ heads.

“We’ve gotten a lot of e-mails from people in Klahanie. They really don’t want Sammamish in their park. I think we really should respect their wishes,” Councilwoman Nancy Whitten said.

Councilwoman Michele Petitti went so far as to say that she was offended by the negative publicity attached to the proposed takeover.

Some residents in Klahanie have painted Sammamish as an unwelcome land grabber intending to install an all-weather turf athletic field with lights. In fact, the city has not proposed any such changes to the park.

The park, built in the early 1990s and located between Southeast 32nd Street and Southeast Klahanie Boulevard, is about 64 acres with a wetland, a 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 actual transfer of ownership would not have cost Sammamish anything.

Though the park sits in Klahanie, it is not owned by the Klahanie Association, the homeowners group. The developer, Lowe Enterprises Northwest, deeded the park to the county in 1994.

The city offered to take over the park after then-King County Executive Kurt Triplett announced in August 2009 that he intended to mothball some county parks as a cost-cutting measure.

During preliminary discussions in fall 2009, officials from the city of Issaquah said they weren’t interested in assuming the costs of maintaining Klahanie Park. Sammamish’s council, concerned that Sammamish parks would see a spike in park users if Klahanie Park closed, directed staff to see if they could find a way to keep it open.

Councilman John James said he would be willing to have Klahanie Park in Sammamish if he knew Klahanie as a whole was in Sammamish’s potential annexation area and that there would be no chance of losing the park to Issaquah in the future.

Councilman Mark Cross said he would want the option of changing the fields at Klahanie Park and didn’t feel the county’s offer of temporary ownership gave Sammamish the ability to do that.

The mayor and city manager recommended against an outright rejection of the county’s offer.

“We told the county that we would step up and assume that (park),” Mayor Don Gerend said. “I’d hate to see that park shut down and not used by anybody.”

Gerend and City Manager Ben Yazici recommended a softer approach, returning to the county with a request to revise the proposed offer.

Tempered by those suggestions, the council directed Yazici and the city parks director to keep talking with Issaquah and the county about other possible solutions for keeping Klahanie Park open.

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

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Comments

2 Responses to “Sammamish decides against taking over Klahanie Park”

  1. Dave on April 13th, 2010 7:12 pm

    I thought Sammamish just wanted to keep the park open for all. Now the new story is that they don’t want to loose it once they cut the grass.

  2. David Crowther on April 27th, 2010 4:17 pm

    Thank-you Nancy Whitten!! I think your grasp of the Klahanie Park situation is right on target. It’s really not about cutting “our” grass, the park is for all to share. It just happens to be the centerpiece of Klahanie. And we simply want the park to continue as it was intended, as an open natural grass area that supports many recreational uses. We never liked the idea of having a park that is contained within our community being controlled by an outsider where we have no voice. I think Sammamish residents would feel the same way if the roles were reversed. And I can assure you, the park won’t be shut down. The only reason it was not included in King County’s 2010 budget (all non-transferring county parks are) is that they saw an opportunity to pass financial responsibility to Sammamish. Otherwise it would have been budgeted by King County for 2010.

    Seeing Sammamish move on to other important items is a good thing, please drop the Klahanie Park Annexation attempt! It is also good for the general community that we share on the Plateau as neighbors. Rest assured, there are other options that are being worked out to maintain Klahanie Park. They just are not as simple for King County as the “here you go Sammamish, take it” approach that Kevin Brown has championed.

    Thanks go to Kathy Lambert who ultimately approached this issue with an open mind and is still working creatively to problem solve, much appreciated!

    Sincerely,

    David Crowther

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