Docks at Sammamish Landing likely to open next year
October 13, 2012
By Caleb Heeringa
New: Oct. 13, 9:37 a.m.
Swimmers and boaters will be able to make better use of Sammamish Landing park with the restoration of two docks sometime next year.
The docks survived a last-minute defunding attempt from Councilman Ramiro Valderrama and Mayor Tom Odell, who balked at the $541,000 cost given other big-ticket projects on the city’s horizon, such as the $25 million that is proposed to be spent on the YMCA- run community and aquatic center. Valderrama and Odell were the two dissenting votes when the council approved the docks on a 5-2 vote at their Oct. 9 meeting.
“We’re looking at $25 million for the community center and developing Southeast Eighth Street Park,” Odell said. “Like all families we need to take a look at our budget and make decisions about our priorities.”
But the thriftiness argument did not sway the rest of the council, who felt that it was a waste of city resources to stop the project halfway through after city staff had spent months designing the new docks and obtaining permits for the work. Parks Director Jessi Richardson said the city had spent approximately $72,000 on designs and permits that could be useless if the project is delayed.
Councilman John Curley noted that he was not the council’s biggest advocate for the park and has questioned how much money should go to developing a park that requires a minimum of a half-mile walk to use. But Curley said pulling out sudden stop work orders on city staff “speaks to the inefficiency and disorganization of this esteemed body.”
“For us to vote for something and then send people out to do the work and then come back a couple months later and say ‘Nevermind’ … It sends a mixed message to the employees of the city that we’re not always serious about the errands we send you on,” Curley said.
The dock project will exhaust the rest of the $315,000 left in the city’s budget for the first phase of Sammamish Landing. The remaining $226,000 will come from a $850,000 contingency fund for parks projects. Richardson said the project was complicated by park’s accessibility issues – crews must use boats to transport building materials to the site.
One of the docks will be used for swimming, while the other will be open for boaters to launch and dock small vessels for the day.
Valderrama echoed concerns expressed at earlier meetings about Sammamish residents footing the bill for the park improvements though it is primarily used by East Lake Sammamish Trail users who are often from neighboring communities. Much of the land that makes up the park was donated to the city by private citizens or the city of Redmond under the condition that Sammamish open and maintain it as a park.
“The beach is being used, we got it cleared and accessible, now let’s prioritize those items that are for our citizens,” Valderrama said.
Councilman John James admitted that the $226,000 in additional money for the project was a “not insignificant chunk of change” but said the docks were necessary to let citizens fully utilize Sammamish’s first waterfront park on the shores of Lake Sammamish.
“It will be a new dynamic not only on shore but off-shore,” James said. “I think this is one of those things where we need to bite the bullet and move on.”
Richardson said she hopes the docks will be open to the public sometime next year.
Reporter Caleb Heeringa can be reached at 392-6434. ext. 247, or firstname.lastname@example.org.