Picnic to kick off idea fest for creek park
July 6, 2010
By Warren Kagarise
Architect pledges to listen to all
The landscape architect hired to design a city parks complex along Issaquah Creek plans to ask residents about their ideas for the site during a picnic at the creekside site.
The late August picnic launches a monthslong process to shape the downtown parks at the confluence of Issaquah Creek and the East Fork.
Guy Michaelsen, principal at The Berger Partnership, a Seattle firm, said the parks should be flexible for many users, and a destination for residents from throughout the city.
“It is your Central Park — I know you have a Central Park — but this one will be really central,” he said during a June 29 presentation to the City Council. “This will be your central, central park.”
The city hired Michaelsen to lead the overarching design, or master site plan, for three contiguous properties spread across 15.5 acres: Tollë Anderson, Cybil-Madeline and Issaquah Creek parks.
The process to develop the parks — often called the “crown jewel” in the municipal parks system by city officials — starts Aug. 26. City Parks & Recreation Director Anne McGill said residents should expect details about the picnic in coming weeks.
The city plans to spend up to $1.6 million to complete the plan and build the initial phase. Issaquah voters approved money to develop the parks in a 2006 bond. Issaquah Parks & Recreation officials picked The Berger Partnership from three finalists in late May.
“We’re excited about the site,” Michaelsen said. “We’re excited about all that it can be, and we see this as a really exceptional opportunity.”
Plans call for the entire park complex to be completed within a decade, although the final timeline hinges on grants and city money.
Michaelsen said the plan must be flexible enough to accommodate changes as the city evolves.
“That’s what a good master plan does,” he said. “It sets a long-term vision, but it allows adaptation to realities.”
Susan Boyle, principal at BOLA Architecture & Planning and a preservation expert, said the historic farm buildings on the park site could someday serve as a springboard for programs related to urban agriculture and Issaquah history.
“All of these things that happen using these farmsteads much as they were, but reviving them so that history isn’t so much in a museum, it’s really revitalized inside of people as they use the buildings and the property,” she said.
Preservation rules and the creekside geography limit the type of development in the parks, but Michaelsen said city leaders and residents should not view the boundaries as restrictions.
“It is passive, but passive doesn’t have to mean super-organic or natural,” Michaelsen said.
Despite the ideas offered by the architects — and suggestions from council members — Michaelsen said input from residents should help to shape the design. But he encouraged officials to accept ideas from many sources.
“I think that the real opportunity for getting that input is acknowledging that the public is an incredibly important voice, but it’s not the only voice,” Michaelsen said.
The landscape architect referenced some high-profile Seattle parks designed by The Berger Partnership: Cal Anderson Park and Warren G. Magnuson Park.
Michaelsen recalled how Capitol Hill residents rallied around Cal Anderson Park, and raised money to build additional features at the park. He said residents came to embrace the park as a gathering place for the community.
“Every time I go there, I wish I had a camera, because I see people doing things that we never imagined them doing — most of it completely legal,” he added.
Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.