September 24, 2013
State park proposals have merits, limits
Washington State Parks needs to seek specific Requests for Proposals for improvements to Lake Sammamish State Park, the jewel at the mouth of Issaquah Creek.
Earlier this month, State Parks and the city of Issaquah received only three proposals in response to its call for RFPs. The two agencies were trying to get outside-the-box ideas that would add to Lake Sammamish park’s bottom line as well as help the city’s economic development.
The three each have merits.
- Anthony’s wants to build a lakefront restaurant. This is not outside the realm of possibilities given the park’s 2007 master plan. Many people have mentioned they would like a nice dining spot on the water, and Anthony’s knows how to do it well. Further, a restaurant brings visitors year round; attendance at the state park is slim in winter months.
- The Issaquah Soccer Club wants to upgrade its state park fields with artificial turf. The idea has come up before and has some ecological hurdles to clear — including drainage near wetlands and night lights — but the soccer club appears poised to address the concerns. More players and more tournaments add to nearby economic vitality.
- A consortium of Seattle businesspeople submitted a massive rewrite of the park’s master plan. Their plan is too aggressive, calling for a lodge and restaurant near the boat launch, many more ball fields, a sports arena and athletic training facility, an amphitheater — and a lot less open space. The Hans Jensen Youth Camp would become a mountain bike park. While the development is ambitious and would be a regional attraction, we’d be losing a state park. The plan is meant to make the park self-sufficient, but it already is, although revenue goes to the general fund.
While the merits of these three proposals are being considered, we’d like to see state parks seek specific RFPs, primarily for an operator of the RV/tent/yurt campground as outlined in the master plan, and for food services for the new café-concession to open in 2014.
The master plan was completed in 2007. What is State Parks waiting for?