It’s field trip time for the Issaquah Park Board. Each year at the July board meeting, members get away from the conference table and onto the land that they work to preserve, enhance or manage.
On Monday, July 26, after a micro meeting at the Issaquah Trails House, the attending board members and employees from the Issaquah Park and Recreation department loaded into vans for a tour of two sites.
The first stop was at the future location of the confluence park project, a 15-acre site comprised of three parks: Tolle Anderson, Cybil-Madeline and Issaquah Creek. The future “super park” is located at the confluence of the main stem and east fork of Issaquah Creek, and it borders Rainier Boulevard NW to the east, Holly Street to the north, and the Issaquah School District administration building to the west.
Standing near the abandoned barn on the Tolle Anderson Park section, City of Issaquah Parks Planner Margaret Macleod pointed out the boundaries of the three parks and explained that each plot of land had constraints on development, such as environmental impact, naming rights and nature preservation.
“There won’t be any sports fields,” she said. Most of the park will be used for passive recreation, kept relatively undeveloped and designed to preserve the natural environment. “It will be an oasis in the middle of an urban area.”
Even with some parameters in place, the park has not yet been designed and the Park Board is hoping to get a lot of input from residents. The first opportunity for the public to see the space and provide feedback is on Thursday, August 26, when the board will host a BBQ at confluence park. The Berger Partnership, the landscape architecture firm hired to design the project, will be on hand to provide information and answer questions.
Macleod added that there will be two additional opportunities for public input on the park design, the time and location of which will be determined at a later date.
The next stop on the field trip was up in the Issaquah Highlands to scout out land for a proposed multi-use trail. There is currently a rough hiking trail that begins near the Central Park play fields and winds downhill to the undeveloped retail area around Highlands Drive. At the June Park Board meeting, Major Development Team Program Manager Keith Niven presented the idea of converting this rugged trail to a paved multi-use trail.
“Port Blakely did a poor job of trail connectivity in the highlands,” Niven said at the June meeting. “We’re trying to correct that.”
While the board members liked the idea of connecting up trails in the highlands, they had several questions, including how would trail safety be assured, what kind of lighting and signage would be needed, and who would be responsible for the upkeep of the trail. The field trip helped the board visualize the route of the new trail, however, no firm recommendation was made.
No members of the public chose to attend the meeting or the early portion of the field trip, however, trail advocate Connie Marsh and former councilman David Kappler joined the final phase of the tour down the proposed highlands multi-use trail.