City severance package entices 35-year employee

September 1, 2009

Al Erickson, city parks manager, stands in front of the Issaquah Community Center as young people and their moms gather for lunch on the front steps. By Greg Farrar

Al Erickson, city parks manager, stands in front of the Issaquah Community Center as young people and their moms gather for lunch on the front steps. By Greg Farrar

A gargantuan aerial shot of Issaquah dominates a wall of Al Erickson’s city Parks & Recreation Department office. The map dates from the early part of the decade; land where part of the Issaquah Highlands would eventually rise is nothing but tawny dirt. Sprawling Central Park was little more than a planner’s sketch.

Now, as Erickson prepares to retire after nearly 35 years as a city parks employee, crews are at work in the highlands adding artificial turf to a pair of Central Park fields.

The changes at Central Park are representative of the changes the city park system — and Issaquah itself — has undergone since Erickson signed on with the city three decades ago as a recent Western Washington University grad. Erickson, 57, retired as parks manager Aug. 31.

Parks & Recreation Director Anne McGill said Erickson’s role as a person who shaped the city park system cannot be overstated.

“He had a huge influence on our whole quality of life in Issaquah,” McGill said. Read more

Seven employees opt for severance package as city makes cutbacks

September 1, 2009

City officials will save nearly $600,000 because seven city employees have opted to accept severance packages. But the savings from the severance program will not be enough to remedy a $3.6 million budget shortfall for 2010 and a similar decline in city revenue for 2010. Read more

Drain covers law is saving lives

August 25, 2009

Come on in! New law is making area pools safer for swimmers

Come on in! New law is making area pools safer for swimmers

Issaquah pool operators are working on changes to make your swimming experience safer.

A federal law that was supposed to be implemented by December has pool operators rethinking safety and investing in new equipment. But the road to implementation has been anything but smooth.

The Virginia Graeme Baker Act was passed by Congress in December 2007 after the 2002 drowning of Virginia Graeme Baker, 7, granddaughter of former Secretary of State James Baker III.

The act is designed to prevent drowning caused by entrapment in pools and hot tubs.

Pool operators in the Issaquah area are hiring engineers to evaluate systems, purchasing drain covers that meet standards, and even tearing up pools and re-installing systems to ensure compliance. Read more

Timberlake Park dog ban proponents, opponents dig in ahead of city meeting

August 25, 2009

At left, Chuck Klein, a neighbor near Timberlake Park for 23 years, cleans an eye on Coby, his golden Labrador, after a walk. Above, a new local resident, who didn’t want her named published, walks her dog to the Lake Sammamish shoreline at Timberlake Park. By Greg Farrar

At left, Chuck Klein, a neighbor near Timberlake Park for 23 years, cleans an eye on Coby, his golden Labrador, after a walk. Above, a new local resident, who didn’t want her named published, walks her dog to the Lake Sammamish shoreline at Timberlake Park. By Greg Farrar

A sign at the entrance to Timberlake Park carries a stern warning to pet owners leading dogs down the leafy trail: “No Dogs Allowed.” Since the sign went up last month, however, pet owners have flaunted the dog ban.

City officials, eager to prevent safety mishaps at the park, responded in kind. Pet owners are now likely to encounter parks staffers or Issaquah Police officers, who tell them about the municipal ordinance that prohibits dogs in most city parks.

Timberlake Park, 24 acres nestled against the southern shore of Lake Sammamish, was open to dogs until earlier this summer.

City officials banned dogs after they received reports from people about dog waste littering the grounds, park goers getting knocked down by dogs and dogs fighting with each other.

“Our position at the city, of course, is safety,” Parks & Recreation Director Anne McGill said.

A series of incidents at the park were recounted in calls and e-mails to city parks staffers. McGill recounted a call from a mother at the park whose children could be heard crying in the background after a dog had knocked them down.

Officials described incidents in which wayward dogs snatched food from picnic tables and darted off park property into nearby backyards.

City officials will host a Sept. 9 open house to review pet rules and concerns about Timberlake Park. Read more

Wanted: New pool

August 11, 2009

Parks survey consistent

Issaquah residents are pleased with municipal parks, trails and the city-run farmers market. A survey conducted by the city Parks & Recreation Department showed residents happy with the state of the park system, and offered a glimpse at the features people want. Read more

Owners howl at Timberlake Park dog ban

July 28, 2009

Molly Herman, of Lakemont, plays fetch with her 8-year-old black Lab Abby at Timberlake Park on Lake Sammamish. Dogs are no longer allowed at the park according to the city, which has put a sign up at the entrance of the park. ‘The sign doesn’t persuade me,’ Herman remarked with the intention of still bringing her dog to the quiet and secluded park. By Adam Eschbach

Molly Herman, of Lakemont, plays fetch with her 8-year-old black Lab Abby at Timberlake Park on Lake Sammamish. Dogs are no longer allowed at the park according to the city, which has put a sign up at the entrance of the park. ‘The sign doesn’t persuade me,’ Herman remarked with the intention of still bringing her dog to the quiet and secluded park. By Adam Eschbach

City officials have banned dogs from Timberlake Park, a slice of wooded land nestled against Lake Sammamish that is popular with pet owners.

Officials cited safety concerns related to dogs at the park, including reports of people being knocked down by unleashed canines, dogs fighting with each other and dogs bolting from the trail onto private property.

City spokeswoman Autumn Monahan said those safety concerns prompted the rule change for the 24-acre park.

“This is about making sure everyone feels comfortable at the park and safe,” she said. Read more

Council kicks in city money to upgrade sports fields

July 28, 2009

Since Issaquah Youth Lacrosse was founded in early 2004, teams have played on fields in Bellevue and Sammamish — but not in the organization’s namesake city. Read more

Council kicks in city money to upgrade sports fields

July 21, 2009

NEW — 6:05 p.m. July 21, 2009

Since Issaquah Youth Lacrosse was founded in early 2004, teams have played on fields in Bellevue and Sammamish — but not in the organization’s namesake city.

By next spring, however, founders Matthew Balkman and Scott Wiley could be scheduling games on new all-weather, lighted fields in the Issaquah Highlands.

City Council members approved a finance package to improve a pair of sports fields at Pad 3 in the highlands’ Central Park last night.

Balkman and Wiley asked council members to vote for the measure.

“We are part of the fastest-growing youth sport in America, and Issaquah has become a dominant force in that,” Balkman said. “We need fields.”

Lighted, all-weather fields for lacrosse and soccer leagues could materialize by spring 2010. Crews will replace soggy, grass fields with artificial turf and install sports lighting.

Read more

Issaquah Soccer Club donates $100,000 for Central Park turf

July 21, 2009

Dark, soggy, grass sports fields in the Issaquah Highlands could be replaced with all-weather turf and sports lighting, thanks to city park bond dollars and county and state grants. Read more

Council could approve artificial turf for Central Park fields tonight

July 20, 2009

NEW — 10 a.m. July 20, 2009

Dark, soggy, grass sports fields in the Issaquah Highlands could be replaced with all-weather turf and sports lighting thanks to city park bond dollars and county and state grants.

City Council members will consider a finance package tonight to improve a pair of sports fields at Pad 3 in the highlands’ Central Park.

A bill headed to the council tonight asks officials to accept a $100,000 donation from the Issaquah Soccer Club to build a second lighted, artificial turf field at Central Park Pad 3. A $50,000 King County youth sports grant and a $500,000 state grant were also awarded to the project.

Read more

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