Construction starts on downtown parks
March 5, 2013
By Warren Kagarise
Construction is under way at the downtown parks along Issaquah Creek, and amenities should open to the public in June.
The construction site — a 15.5-acre expanse often referred to as the crown jewel in the municipal parks system — encompasses the interconnected Tollë Anderson, Cybil-Madeline and Issaquah Creek parks across Rainier Boulevard North from Darigold.
The parks converge on former farmland at the confluence of Issaquah Creek and the East Fork of Issaquah Creek. Crews started work at the site early last month.
Construction in the $1 million initial phase focuses on infrastructure, including site preparation and grading, and sewer and water utility work. Crews also started work on a picnic shelter and a restroom facility set to open in June.
Funding for the initial phase comes from a $6.25 million park bond approved by Issaquah voters in November 2006.
The initial funding is not enough to complete the ambitious plan for the site. Officials said the city must seek grants and perhaps put another park bond measure before voters to fund later phases.
The effort to complete the area as envisioned in the master site plan could stretch for years, or even decades.
The downtown parks effort is the largest parks project since the city built Squak Valley Park South in 2008 and the most ambitious plan since officials agreed to a framework for Tibbetts Valley Park more than 20 years ago.
Plan includes salmon habitat restoration
In March 2012, City Council members approved the overarching design outline, or master site plan, for the creekside parks. The action laid the groundwork for construction to start.
The Berger Partnership, a Seattle-based landscape architecture firm, is the designer behind the master site plan. Later phases call for serpentine rock barriers, manmade knolls, open meadows, boulders for climbing and a horseshoe-shaped pedestrian bridge across Issaquah Creek.
Plans for Phase 2 include salmon habitat restoration along Issaquah Creek.
The city recently received a $225,000 state grant to supplement city dollars to restore aquatic and creekside habitat for chinook, coho and kokanee salmon, as well as cutthroat trout and steelhead, at the confluence. The city plans to contribute $45,000 to the project.
Crews intend to remove about 1,000 feet of rock creek banks, reconfigure 1,900 feet of channel, add logjams to form pools for fish, restore wetlands and replant vegetation along the creek.
Construction is the latest step in a long effort to transform the site into a downtown parks complex.
Leaders toiled for almost 20 years to assemble the 15.5 acres, since the city acquired land for Issaquah Creek Park in November 1993.
The late philanthropist Julia Pritt donated $500,000 for the city to buy another parcel in August 1995. In exchange for the gift, she requested the park carry her granddaughters’ names, Cybil and Madeline. The city added the last piece to Cybil-Madeline Park — a 1.3-acre parcel — in a $2.69 million deal in February 2009.
The city acquired the former Anderson family farmstead in June 2008 and named the parcel Tollë Anderson Park.