Community dedicates Squak Mountain forest to Maureen McCarry

November 12, 2011

By Warren Kagarise

Former Councilwoman Maureen McCarry (right) greets a well-wisher at the dedication ceremony for Squak Mountain's McCarry Woods on Saturday. By Warren Kagarise

NEW — 1 p.m. Nov. 12, 2011

The thicket — all gold and green beneath a November sky the same color as chalk — adjacent to the Forest Rim neighborhood on Squak Mountain shares the name of a person instrumental in protecting the land for future generations.

Forest Rim neighbors and city leaders gathered Saturday morning to dedicate McCarry Woods and honor the forest’s namesake, former Councilwoman Maureen McCarry.

Before stepping down from the council last December, she led the effort to acquire and preserve 40 acres for wildlife habitat and trail access to nearby Squak Mountain State Park.

McCarry resigned from the council almost a year ago, as symptoms from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, progressed. The emotional ceremony — part block party, part ribbon-cutting — Saturday also served as a way for the former councilwoman to offer thanks to the community.

“Your many acts of kindness — many acts that you don’t even realize, some just in the silence of your prayers or helping us around the house — have made the journey that we’re going through easier and you’ve made this burden that we’ve endured lighter,” McCarry’s husband, Tom Knollmann, said in a brief speech to more than 100 people gathered in a Forest Rim street. “We’ll never be able to thank you, and we truly appreciate how you have chosen to accompany us on this travel.”

McCarry, bundled against the autumn chill in a thick coat and cap in a motorized wheelchair, greeted residents, and elected officials past and present, as organizers handed out hot cider to attendees.

“This honor means the world to Maureen, it means the world to me, and it’s enduring symbol of the importance of community, the importance of neighborhoods and the importance of Issaquah in all of our lives,” Knollmann said.

Issaquah Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 3436 representative Dave Waggoner presented to McCarry a flag flown on the last day she served as a councilwoman — Dec. 20, 2010.

The celebration offered a chance for Forest Rim residents to honor a neighbor — and a strong advocate for the neighborhood. Residents in Forest Rim, the highest-elevation neighborhood on Squak Mountain, started planning for the dedication weeks ago.

“‘We should do something,'” neighbor Carol Powers recalled after hearing the council’s decision to rename the forested tract for McCarry. So, more than 500 planning emails later, community members gathered for the celebration. Handmade signs reading, “Thank you 4 saving our woods” and “Thank you, Maureen,” lined neighborhood streets.

“Our neighborhood, I think, is one of a kind,” resident Cynthia Gotuzzo said.

The green sign, mounted on wooden posts, acts as a gateway from Sierra Court Southwest to McCarry Woods. Mayor Ava Frisinger, in remarks to the crowd, said the land is “rightfully named for” McCarry.

“It is a wonderful sign of preserving our environment,” Knollmann said. “This sign that means so much to Maureen also distinguishes the importance of this land.”

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One Response to “Community dedicates Squak Mountain forest to Maureen McCarry”

  1. Elizabeth Cait on November 14th, 2011 6:33 am

    I have never seen a more vibrant celebration. The organizers not only served cider, but handed out bags of “McCarry Woods Trail Mix” and sported McCarry Woods non-permanent “tattoos.” Dear college and graduate school friends came from far and near and Maureen’s brother flew in from Texas to see this honor bestowed on his sister .After the ribbon cutting, friends and neighbors immediately pulled out shovels and planted flower bulbs around the sign. Children began playing at the entrance to McCarry Woods, exemplifying the reason this land was obtained and is now a coveted landmark to the woman that made it possible.

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