Residents want to remain in Town Center home

It’s not far as the crow flies from City Hall to the home where Helen and Donovan Albrecht have lived since 1976.

It’s not far as the crow flies from City Hall to the home where Helen and Donovan Albrecht have lived since 1976.

The couple had three children when they moved from Issaquah to Sammamish. From the windows of their quiet home, they can look out on a peaceful manmade lake and watch deer and other wildlife meandering past. This June, they’ll celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.

“We like it here,” said Donovan Albrecht, 71. “We never bought this as a nest egg. We bought this as a place to live.”

The two are active — every year, they raise a steer, and Donovan works on Studebakers, which have been a lifelong passion, and rides motorcycles. Helen knits and crochets for Children’s Hospital, and belongs to a Children’s Hospital guild, volunteers at a thrift shop, is a member of Daughters of the American Revolution and is on the funeral committee at Mary Queen of Peace Church.

They’d like to continue to live in their home “as long as the good Lord sees fit,” but they don’t think they’ll be able to afford the taxes once the Town Center starts to materialize around them.

“There’s been a degree of privacy here that we’ll lose,” Helen Albrecht said.

Many aspects of their home and property would simply not be replaceable if they were to move. Their son, John, died of leukemia at 13 years of age in 1977, and friends and family gave the Albrechts a lilac, snowball and rhododendron to plant in his memory. They also love the giant cedar — about 17 feet in circumference — that stands guard just outside their front door.

When the Sammamish Commons and new City Hall were being developed, the Albrechts thought the park would be a nice addition to the city. But when they got an e-mail from a real estate agent asking about purchasing their land, the couple was taken by surprise.

“I told them, ‘This is our home,’” Donovan said. “I let them know that we didn’t want to sell.”

Like many other residents who live in the Town Center planning area, the two have attended countless meetings of early advisory groups, the Planning Commission and now the City Council. They have spoken about what they would like to see happen, but they worry about whether the message is being received.

“We’re kind of in the center of this thing to where I don’t think they’re going to listen to us,” Helen said.

Before the Albrechts moved to the property, their two-story barn was once used to raise baby chicks that were then transferred to other barns on the large farm that used to operate on the Albrechts’ and several adjacent parcels of land.They believe it was built in 1937, and still has its original roof. Last year, the couple applied to the King County Historical Preservation and the organization “4Culture” for a grant. They received $600, and plan to do the painting and other work themselves this summer.

Issaquah-area historian Harriet Fish worked with Helen, a retired nurse, and once did a pencil drawing of the barn. The framed piece now hangs on the wall of the Albrechts’ home.

“We’re here because we like it here and it’s pretty hard to replace,” Donovan said. “I’m not so old that I’m ready to pack it in and move.”