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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Press Editorial

March 29, 2011

Preserving Park Pointe is a triumph for entire city

The momentous effort to preserve Park Pointe is complete.

Issaquah leaders and residents can celebrate after more than a decade of squabbling and maneuvering to stop hundreds of homes from rising on the land.

The transfer of development rights benefits the entire city.

Park Pointe, a majestically named parcel on Tiger Mountain near Issaquah High School, is forever preserved as public open space. So, too, is a 43-acre forest near Central Park in the Issaquah Highlands.

In exchange, homebuilders can construct up to 500 residences on 35 acres in the highlands. Despite the large figure, developers proposed far fewer homes for the site.

The deal protects land ill-suited for development and shifts construction to a site near roads and utilities.

In addition, the added residents to the highlands could help attract the retail businesses promised to neighborhood residents so long ago.

The deal is not perfect, but the benefits outshine the problems.

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Councilman Fred Butler announces re-election campaign

March 29, 2011

NEW — 5:15 p.m. March 29, 2011

Fred Butler

Longtime Councilman Fred Butler, a respected authority on regional transit issues, announced plans Tuesday to run for a fourth term.

The incumbent candidate, a Squak Mountain resident and a retired U.S. Army colonel, joined the City Council more than a decade ago, and served on the board as Issaquah experienced a population boom.

“I want to continue to serve the citizens of Issaquah and the region with my enthusiasm, energy and experience to make Issaquah a better place,” he said in a statement. “I am committed to working collaboratively to solve problems. I pledge to work hard, listen and help when I can.”

Butler, a Sound Transit board member, served last year on a regional effort to guide King County Metro Transit service in the decades ahead. In addition, then-County Executive-elect Dow Constantine tapped Butler to serve on the transition team as Constantine shifted from the County Council to the top county office in 2009.

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Issaquah preserves Tiger Mountain forest in historic milestone

March 24, 2011

Park Pointe protection occurs after yearslong effort to stop proposed construction

NEW — 6:45 p.m. March 24, 2011

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

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

City planners and officials shepherded the transfer-of-development-rights agreement through the arduous process after Mayor Ava Frisinger outlined the landmark opportunity to preserve Park Pointe in late 2008.

In the years since, city leaders and other partners continued to pursue the project until the recession scuttled the developer pushing for the project.

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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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Council sees ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ in Park Pointe deal

March 22, 2011

NEW — 8 a.m. March 22, 2011

The city is on the verge of preserving more than 100 forested acres on Tiger Mountain and in the Issaquah Highlands due to a series of agreements the City Council adopted Monday night.

In a landmark decision, the council agreed to accept ownership of the long-disputed Park Pointe property — 102 acres on Tiger Mountain near Issaquah High School. The other agreements, described as housekeeping items by city leaders, cleared up access and boundary issues related to the highlands land.

Now, after years of negotiations, the complicated transfer of development rights to preserve Park Pointe and add more density to the highlands is almost complete. Read more

Maureen McCarry receives city’s top environmental honor

March 21, 2011

NEW — 8 p.m. March 21, 2011

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 Monday night.

Mayor Ava Frisinger cited the countless hours McCarry contributed to forge agreements outlining construction in the Issaquah Highlands and Talus, preserve forested Park Pointe near Issaquah High School and strengthen tree-protection rules.

The mayor and Council President John Traeger selected McCarry for the honor after receiving numerous nominations for the former councilwoman, a Squak Mountain resident.

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Mayor predicts ‘momentous year’ in State of the City speech

February 15, 2011

City is poised to complete long-term projects in coming months

Mayor Ava Frisinger offered a bold prediction for the year in the State of the City address last week.

“2011 will undoubtedly be a momentous year for Issaquah — one that will not only reinforce the importance of our day-to-day business, but will also celebrate our larger accomplishments,” she said during the Feb. 7 address.

The can-do speech highlighted projects scheduled for completion in the months ahead, including the city-coordinated zHome townhouses and a landmark effort to outline redevelopment in the 915-acre business district.

“2010 sets high expectations for this year, and I am confident that we can meet them,” Frisinger said. “Our list of goals for 2011 is extremely impressive and yet very feasible.”

The annual address — like the spring City Council goal-setting session and the autumn budget announcement — helps city leaders outline priorities for the public.

Frisinger used the speech to shine a spotlight on long-term efforts on track to mark milestones.

The city is poised to complete the long-running effort to preserve forested Park Pointe on Tiger Mountain soon.

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Bellevue College is closer to highlands land purchase

February 8, 2011

Bellevue College is poised to complete the purchase of land for a proposed Issaquah Highlands campus by the end of the month.

College President Jean Floten said the institution signed a purchase-and-sale agreement to buy 20 acres from highlands developer Port Blakely Communities.

The agreement contains some routine contingencies — such as the college agreeing to the architectural standards for the highlands — and must undergo review from the state Department of General Administration, because the college is a state agency.

The final contingencies should be removed before the month ends. The process is not expected to cause problems, college spokesman Bob Adams said.

The transaction is part of a complicated transfer of development rights to preserve forested land on Tiger Mountain near Issaquah High School and open additional highlands land for construction.

The city solicited proposals last October from potential buyers for the parcels. Candidates received bonus points for including affordable housing and public spaces in the proposals.

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Mayor highlights accomplishments in State of the City address

February 8, 2011

NEW — 10 a.m. Feb. 8, 2011

Mayor Ava Frisinger offered a bold prediction for the months ahead in the State of the City address Monday night.

“2011 will undoubtedly be a momentous year for Issaquah — one that will not only reinforce the importance of our day-to-day business, but will also celebrate our larger accomplishments, ” she said.

The can-do speech highlighted projects scheduled for completion in the months ahead, including the city-coordinated zHome townhouses and a landmark effort to outline redevelopment in the 915-acre business district.

Frisinger used the annual address to shine a spotlight on other long-term efforts.

Read more

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