Landscape architect hopes outreach shapes city parks
August 17, 2010
By Warren Kagarise
The downtown parks strung along Issaquah Creek might not include a soccer field or a baseball diamond, but the former farmsteads could be a hub for lessons about local history and creekside ecology.
The city and the landscape architect start the planning process for the parks next week, during a picnic at the 15.5-acre site. Planners hope the suppertime gathering affords residents a chance to explore the parks — Tollë Anderson, Cybil-Madeline and Issaquah Creek — peer inside old farmhouses and observe squirrels darting up trees and ducks bobbing in the creek.
Though preservation rules and limits on creekside construction shape how the park can be developed, landscape architect Guy Michaelsen said he hopes the setting inspires the picnickers to offer creative ideas.
“You think you know a site, but every time you walk it, you see something different,” he said.
Michaelsen and the team from Seattle landscape architecture firm The Berger Partnership plan to set up stations dedicated to history and creekside ecology inside the park for picnickers. The architect also intends to ask participants “What makes a great park?” at another station.
“We’re wide open to ideas,” city Parks Planner Margaret Macleod said.
In May, the city selected The Berger Partnership to spearhead the design, or master site plan, for the parks.
Officials plan to spend up to $1.6 million to complete the plan and build the initial phase. The money comes from a 2006 park bond OK’d by Issaquah residents.
The setting has started to resemble a city park in the months since the city put out a call for architects in early January. Michaelsen lauded the city for maintaining the site, and credited volunteers and city staffers for yanking invasive plants.
The architecture firm should submit a preliminary design to the city Parks & Recreation Department by early 2011. The initial step entails community outreach — including the Aug. 26 picnic and later gatherings at Tibbetts Creek Manor and Pickering Barn.
“A park in the design process is not just about sticking a bunch of park design elements in a hopper,” Michaelsen said.
The architect said he prefers hosting meetings at park sites, because the experience often leads participants to offer fresh ideas. The firm plans to host on-site meetings soon for a project at Luther Burbank Park on Mercer Island and for another in Redmond.
The Berger Partnership also designed the Cal Anderson and Warren G. Magnuson parks in Seattle.
Officials intend to solicit grants to complete the yearslong construction effort. The city considered applying for local parks dollars from the state Recreation and Conservation Office earlier in the year, but opted to hold off until the design for the creekside parks has been completed.
“Before they allocate funding, they like to see what the funding will be spent on,” Macleod said.
Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.