After two and a half years of planning, the Sammamish City Council voted Tuesday night to adopt the Big Rock Master Plan, but with amendments.
In 2012, Mary Piggott agreed to donate the 51-acres to the city in order to create a passive, community park. The city owns a portion of the park – site A – and hopes to own site B in the next couple of years. Piggott lives in site C and plans to live there for some time, but that site also will belong to the city at some point in the future.
Jessi Bon, director of parks and recreation, said that since the land was donated, the Planning Commission has taken into consideration Piggott’s vision for the park, the community’s input and council recommendations – a task that is easier said than done. The current existing conditions and particular areas of interest include the park’s proximity to neighbors, sensitive areas, the trail system that exists on the land, parking and access, wetlands and streams, steep slopes, meadows and more.
“All of this factored into our proposed master plan,” Bon said.
The final plan included a natural play area, an elevated boardwalk and a community garden. However, not all council members were in support of the proposed aspects.
The natural play area had previously been taken out of the Master Plan, but put back in with the hopes of creating a place for structured and unstructured play and learning, as well as opportunities for community and volunteer involvement. It is estimated to cost $100,000 and was approved by the council in a 5-2 vote.
Councilmember Kathy Huckabay said that in today’s world children don’t have the opportunity to have imaginative play, which is why she’s in complete support of the play area. Dissenting were councilmembers Tom Odell and Ramiro Valderrama, who said it does not go with the vision of the park.
“I don’t think this is a natural play area,” Valderrama said. “I know Mary’s (Piggott) kids grew up here and they didn’t have a ‘natural play area.'”
The elevated boardwalk also was questioned by council members, which would cost $525,000.
Valderrama said the point of creating a passive park is to avoid wetlands, not to go through them.
“With a half a million dollars, I think we can do a lot more with our money,” he said.
Huckabay disagreed, stating that she thinks the wetland would be better protected with the boardwalk in place. It also would provide educational opportunities for children, she said.
Councilmember Nancy Whitten had concerns both environmentally and financially, but suggested including it as a potential feature that could be decided upon at a later date. In a vote of 5-2, the council voted the boardwalk out. However, following the resolution adoption, the council made an amendment to the language of the Master Plan, stating that, “When site B transfers to the city, ADA alternatives will be evaluated: the elevated boardwalk and/or the extended trail connectivity to the Southeast corner of site A.”
All council members were in favor of this amendment, so the city will reevaluate the option to install an elevated boardwalk and/or a grated trail system once the city acquires site B.
Kellye Hilde, parks project manager, said the budget will continue to reflect plans for an elevated boardwalk, but will decrease if the grated trail is chosen instead since that option is significantly less.
Other issues the council had included the idea of community garden and the size of the parking lot in site B. With a sudden change of vote by Valderrama, the community garden was ultimately taken out of the Master Plan and a parking lot with 10-12 spots for site B was approved. With the removal of the community garden, the project budget decreased from $4.1 million to $4 million.
Phase one of the project will begin in September and is estimated at $527,000 for design and construction. It will focus on the development of park user amenities in the front meadow in site A, including a parking lot along Southeast Eighth Street, the natural play area, the park entrance, an ADA accessible trail system, along with site furniture, signs, irrigation and landscaping.
Phase one construction is expected to begin in 2015. For more information on the history of the project and the Big Rock Park Master plan, visit www.sammamish.us/files/packet/13100.pdf.
Kelly Montgomery: 425-391-0363; firstname.lastname@example.org