City Council sells Issaquah Highlands land to homebuilder

May 18, 2011

NEW — 3 p.m. May 18, 2011

City Council members agreed Monday to sell Issaquah Highlands land — a scrap measuring 16,000 square feet — to a homebuilder and set aside dollars from the sale to improve municipal parks.

The city stands to receive $191,496 for the parcel near the planned 15th Avenue Northeast extension and Northeast College Drive construction. The land measures 16,000 square feet, or about the size of a typical Bartell Drugs.

Bellevue-based developer Polygon Northwest is building the Forest Ridge at Issaquah Highlands neighborhood near the site and intends to add the parcel to the community.

The homebuilder could create three lots for single-family detached homes on the site.

“As a new member to the Issaquah Highlands community, we want to do what’s in the best interest of the community, and we feel that this fits that goal,” Ben Rutkowski, development project manager for Polygon Northwest, told council members.

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City preserves Tiger Mountain forest in historic milestone

March 29, 2011

Park Pointe protection occurs after years long effort to stop proposed construction

By Dona Mokin

The long-running saga to preserve Park Pointe — a slice of Tiger Mountain forest near Issaquah High School — ended late March 24, after more than a decade of public and behind-the-scenes negotiations to halt construction of hundreds of houses once proposed for the land.

The tradeoff: Under the agreement, city leaders steered construction from Park Pointe to the Issaquah Highlands instead, and, as a result, preserved more than 140 acres in the process.

“I think that this will transform the community in a very, very positive way,” Mayor Ava Frisinger said, minutes after the deal closed. “It has the three elements of sustainability. It has the environment — the environmental protection and preservation. It has a huge social element. It has economic vitality benefits as well.”

The historic conservation effort is part of a complicated transfer of development rights.

City planners and officials shepherded the agreement through the arduous process after Frisinger outlined the landmark opportunity to preserve Park Pointe in late 2008.

In the years since, representatives from the city, highlands developer Port Blakely Communities and other partners pursued the project until the recession scuttled the developer behind the proposed Park Pointe development.

Since a Seattle bank foreclosed on the land from the defunct developer last March, the preservation effort lurched into gear. Issaquah and King County officials adopted a series of agreements late last year to advance the process.

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Maureen McCarry receives city’s top environmental award

March 22, 2011

Maureen McCarry smiles March 21 as her husband Tom Knollmann and the City Hall audience applaud her for receiving the Ruth Kees Environmental Award. By Greg Farrar

The latest recipient of the top environmental honor in Issaquah acted as a guiding force — in public and behind the scenes — in the long-running effort to shape neighborhoods and preserve undeveloped land.

Leaders elevated Maureen McCarry into the pantheon alongside other important conservation activists, and bestowed the Ruth Kees Environmental Award for a Sustainable Community on the former councilwoman at a City Hall ceremony March 21.

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Greenway pioneer receives top environmental honor

July 13, 2010

Mountains to Sound Greenway pioneer Ted Thomsen — “the unsung hero” behind the 101-mile greenbelt — received the highest environmental honor in Issaquah in a City Hall ceremony last week.

The late Thomsen received the Ruth Kees Award for a Sustainable Community — the prize named for the late environmentalist, a tireless advocate for open space preservation. The city selected Thomsen for the yearslong effort to establish a billboard-free greenbelt from Seattle to Central Washington along Interstate 90.

Cynthia Welti, Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust executive director, nominated Thomsen for the honor.

“He was essential to bringing the greenway vision to fruition,” she recalled in the nomination. “Ted is the unsung hero of the launch of this tremendous coalition effort.”

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Issaquah Environmental Council digs for natural beauty

June 25, 2010

NEW — 3 p.m. June 25, 2010

The Issaquah Environmental Council is looking for volunteers to do their part for the planet and kick-off its summer 2010 restoration events.

The first event will be Saturday at Cybil-Madeleine Park. Plans are to focus on cleanup of debris and invasive plants to prepare the new park for installation of facilities, according to Barbara Shelton, program coordinator.

Events provide a fun and healthy way to maintain the natural beauty of Issaquah, Shelton said.

“It’s really refreshing and rewarding to dig out a blackberry root and to yank on ivy and know that it’s not going to grow up that tree,” she said.

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Help pull invasive plants in the highlands Sunday

May 15, 2010

NEW — 6 a.m. May 15, 2010

Issaquah Environmental Council teams will clear invasive Scotch broom in the Issaquah Highlands on Sunday, and the group needs volunteers.

Teams will gather near Central Park from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. to clear the non-native plant near the reservoir near Northeast Park Drive.

The group will need volunteers to tackle other invasive plants, such as Himalayan blackberry and ivy, in the weeks ahead. E-mail Connie Marsh, Issaquah Environmental Council president, at for more information.

Besides invasive plant removal, the Issaquah Environmental Council works to protect the Lower Issaquah Valley Aquifer — a source of city drinking water — the Issaquah Creek watershed and other ecological assets. Learn more about the group here.

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City Council OKs long-term road projects

May 8, 2010

NEW — 6 a.m. May 8, 2010

City Council members approved the bible to all city transportation projects through 2016 — a roadmap to planned street and trails improvements known as the Transportation Improvement Program.

The list includes the Interstate 90 Undercrossing, a pedestrian connector to link trails across the interstate and along state Route 900, improvements to Newport Way Northwest and dozens of other projects.

The council held a hearing on the plan Monday, and then OK’d the list in a unanimous decision. Transportation projects must be listed in the plan in order to eligible for federal and state dollars, including money generated through the state gasoline tax and distributed to local governments.

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City Council sets parks, transportation among 2011 goals

May 4, 2010

City Council members outlined goals for parks, technology, economic development and transportation to be accomplished next year. The council eschewed broad policy goals and recommended specific projects.

Members culled 62 suggestions into a handful of rough goals. Municipal staffers will then hone the list into a final stack of goals for the council to approve next month.

The council gathered in a Public Works Operations Building conference room May 1 for the daylong discussion to set goals for 2011.

Council President John Traeger encouraged members to offer multiple suggestions.

“There are no bad ideas, and no goal is too big or too small,” he said.

The retreat included initial discussion about the upcoming budget. City department chiefs use the goals set by the council to formulate budgets for the upcoming year.

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Volunteer, hobby expo returns bigger than ever

April 20, 2010

Whether you’re brand new to the community or have lived here your whole life, possibilities abound for getting involved with your neighbors and other like-minded individuals or groups. The trick is finding them.

Luckily, the Issaquah Parks & Recreation Department gathers more than 30 organizations at one convenient location each year — the Hobby & Volunteer Expo.

“It’s for all ages,” organizer Cathy Jones said. “It’s especially great for parents to find different groups for their children.”

Now in its 11th year, this year’s show is geared more toward hobby and volunteer opportunities for adults and high school students, Jones said.

“There are some great opportunities for retirees and empty nesters,” she added.

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Voters strengthen open space protection

November 10, 2009

Voters approved extra protections for land along Issaquah Creek, parts of Cougar and Squak mountains, and dozens of other natural areas throughout unincorporated King County. Known as the Open Space Amendment, the measure applies to more than 156,000 acres at 96 sites countywide. Read more

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