December 11, 2012
Our state park needs passionate ‘friends’
Lake Sammamish State Park needs a group of passionate people to come together as Friends of Our State Park. Both leaders and roll-up-your-sleeves volunteers are wanted.
The state park has had a plan in place for five years. That plan would add an esplanade between the picnic and beach areas for walkers to access a new bathhouse, a boathouse for kayaks and rowing shells, a lakefront café, improved group sites, environmental educational components throughout, an RV and tent park, a lodge to host youth or adult groups for overnights or meetings, and much cleaner beach and grassy areas.
A citizen group met for three years to come up with the plan, and design work was completed for the esplanade and bathhouse. It was to have been done by 2013, in time for the 100th anniversary of Washington State Parks.
Funds dried up and plans came to a screeching halt. Since then, the park has deteriorated further and attendance at this local treasure is low.
Thanks to the Issaquah City Council, the rally to make progress at the park is again under way. It may be a state park, but it will take Sammamish and Issaquah leaders to embrace it.
It’s time to rise to the occasion and create a friends group, primarily to help increase attendance.
Events and festivals are needed — like music festivals, maybe July 4 fireworks, day camp youth programs, sporting events. Events like last year’s paddle board competition at the park need to be promoted so the public knows something special is going on.
People bring admission fees, and those fees bring better maintenance and more interest in long-term development of the plan.
Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery was founded in 1994 and literally saved the hatchery from becoming mothballed. The group lobbied the Legislature, changed the mission to include education, and found corporate donors for exhibits. It is a success model that should be duplicated for Lake Sammamish State Park.
Friends of Our State Park has no one to call to join, but email your name and phone number to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll let you know what transpires.