State park annexation enters council consideration

March 18, 2014

By Peter Clark

The Issaquah City Council will consider adding annexation of Lake Sammamish State Park to its comprehensive plan.

In the March 11 Land and Shore Committee meeting, council members discussed the docket of items for the annual update to Issaquah’s comprehensive plan. The addition to the docket came in response to a March 4 letter from Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission Director Don Hoch asking the city to consider annexing the park.

“We’ve been working with State Parks on a request for proposals,” City Long Range Planning Manager Trish Heinonen said about the cooperation aimed at economically developing the park. “I think it allows us to partner with them more seamlessly. They felt like it would help us with our rules and regulations.”

The state officially asked the city to file for a petition of annexation. That step would involve holding at least one public hearing before the full City Council could pass an ordinance to include the park under Issaquah’s jurisdiction. Prior to any filing, the city would need to amend its comprehensive plan to include a prospective annexation.

The Economic Development Department has led the city’s part of the dialogue with the state regarding project considerations and the park’s future. That department’s director Keith Niven explained how folding the park into the city’s jurisdiction would simplify plans that would otherwise have to go through King County.

“It makes it easier for the parties to continue to have conversations about doing things in the park if it’s in the city’s jurisdiction,” Niven said in a phone interview. “Taking one government jurisdiction out of the kitchen can’t hurt.”

At the Land and Shore meeting, residents passionate about the future of the park greeted the news of the city’s exploration warmly.

“Generally, this seems like a pretty good thing,” Friends of Lake Sammamish State Park board member Dave Kappler said. “I think we have a better chance of review and enforcement through the city of Issaquah. If Issaquah tries to upscale what goes on in the park too much, I think that will be a concern, but we’ll be watching for that.”

Connie Marsh, another board member with Friends of Lake Sammamish agreed, but cautioned about working with the state.

“In general, getting permitting will be easier, but I don’t think anything is necessarily easier when dealing with the state,” she said. “I think it’s going to cost the city more than will be anticipated. As a citizen that makes me cringe, because I think it will be a suck from the city and what it has time to do.”

The committee reiterated that its present goal was simply whether to include the issue on the docket for prospective comprehensive plan amendments.

“We’re just putting it on the docket to study it and amend the comprehensive plan accordingly,” City Councilwoman Stacy Goodman said.

The item will be on the docket for the whole council to review in its April 7 regular meeting.


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