City, neighbors dedicate Squak Mountain forest to Maureen McCarry
November 15, 2011
By Warren Kagarise
Former councilwoman led effort to protect Squak Mountain woods
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 on a cold morning Nov. 12 to dedicate McCarry Woods and honor the forest’s namesake, former City 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 — at the McCarry Woods entrance 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 and McCarry Woods Trail Mix to attendees.
“This honor means the world to Maureen, it means the world to me, and it’s an 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 at City Hall on the last day she served as a councilwoman — Dec. 20, 2010.
The city acquired the Squak Mountain forest in August 2007 as part of the Cougar-Squak Mountains Wildlife Corridor project. The mayor appointed a citizen committee in July to select a name for the property, and council members OK’d the McCarry Woods choice in August.
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 at the McCarry Woods entrance, mounted on wooden posts, acts as a gateway from Sierra Court Southwest to the forest. 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.”
Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.