Potential state park annexation is given more time for discussion
August 12, 2014
By Peter Clark
Zoning questions held off an Issaquah City Council move toward annexing Lake Sammamish State Park.
Presented with an agenda bill to adopt a letter of intent Aug. 4, the council faced a step in taking over jurisdiction of the park from the state. The matter entered council consideration in April after the state parks department presented the idea to city officials in the form of a petition for annexation.
City Long Range Planner Trish Heinonen said the idea came from last year’s securing of $5 million for improvements to the 512-acre state park.
“The state parks and the city started to talk to each other because there was the threat that the state, next year in their budget discussions, might pull the funding for some of the improvements that have been going on.” Heinonen said. “State Parks would continue to own and operate the park, we would only be the permitting jurisdiction and the regulatory body. We wouldn’t actually take over anything.”
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She added that the city’s annexation would streamline the shared goal of city and State Parks officials to encourage more use in the park through development.
“The reason they approached us was partnership,” Heinonen said. “We’d been partnering with them on the advisory committee and they wanted to partner with us on the permitting.”
The letter of intent discussed in the Aug. 4 meeting would authorize Mayor Fred Butler to submit a notice to the Washington State Boundary Review Board for King County, while the council and State Parks works out an interlocal agreement on the terms.
“I’ve reviewed this really closely and really the zoning and the critical areas are my only concern,” Council President Paul Winterstein said.
As city and State Parks officials work to bring economic development opportunities to the park, Winterstein and other council members worried how the current zoning would affect their efforts, especially considering adjacent wetland areas.
Because of the zoning questions and other council concerns regarding what Issaquah residents would get out of an annexation, the council ultimately decided to move the topic to the Sept. 8 work session.
Councilman Tola Marts endorsed the further discussion “in the spirit of measure twice and cut once” and to collect any additional public comment.
Should the council adopt the letter of intent in time, Heinonen said she hopes the staff can present the city’s case to the Boundary Review Board during its October meeting and have a recommendation by November.
If the board were to give a recommendation, the City Council would then need to hold a public hearing before making a final decision.
“I think it’ll be a better run park under our jurisdiction,” Heinonen said. “We just want to get it done hopefully before the legislative session.”