August 24, 2010
Highlands residents add to discussion
City Council members should be applauded for their decision last week to forge ahead with the plan to preserve Park Pointe. The council did so despite misguided opposition from Issaquah Highlands residents. Homeowners there have concerns about adding density in their community as a way to offset the preservation at Park Pointe on Tiger Mountain. In exchange for the open space, 550 homes could be built in the highlands.
The decision must have been particularly tough for Councilman Mark Mullet, the first and only highlands resident on the council. His support took grit in the face on unified opposition from his friends and neighbors.
The meeting encouraged us to see so many highlands residents turn out for a City Council debate. We hope to see highlands homeowners become more frequent participants in city conversations — not just the debates that affect their neighborhood.
The transfer of development rights benefits the entire city. The deal aims to protect land ill-suited for development and put more homes near the roads and utilities needed to serve them. And more residents could help attract the retail businesses needed to serve the highlands neighborhoods closer to their homes.
Many of the highlands residents expressed concerns about Grand Ridge Elementary School and the impact of the additional students that are sure to follow with more new homes. Enrollment projections from the Issaquah School District should put their fears to rest. The school can handle the added students. Portable classrooms might someday be needed, but that would not impact student education. The commitment of parents, teachers and staff members are what define a school community.
Make no mistake: Park Pointe must be preserved. To reverse course now and abandon the transfer decision is unconscionable. But the concerns and ideas that came from highlands residents are certainly going to help make the land swap a better project for all concerned.