The Review’s Review: A look back at 2012

December 27, 2012

By Caleb Heeringa

New: Dec. 27, 11:17 a.m.

In 2012, Sammamish saw one of its biggest winter storms in recent memory, a new home for a formerly homeless farmhouse and the death of a beloved school police officer.

 

Snowmageddon

The year began a bit chaotically, with wind, snow and a deep freeze knocking out power and immobilizing much of the city in mid-January.

At one point, approximately three-fourths of the city was without power.

Area schools closed for several days as inches of snow turned to sheets of ice. Dozens of Sammamish residents who were without power at home used Sammamish City Hall to charge their electronics.

 

City loses a legend

Stan Chapin, who had served as the school resource officer for Eastlake High School and Inglewood Junior High School for 11 years, died suddenly of natural causes Jan. 30.

Chapin’s death brought an outpouring of support from current and former students who remembered Chapin’s quirky humor and knack for connecting with students.

Last week, the city dedicated the second entrance to Eastlake as “Stan Chapin Way” in honor of the 40-year King County Sheriff’s Office standard.

 

Sammamish gains a park,

and more

After years of talk, Sammamish opened its first public park on the shores of Lake Sammamish. Sammamish Landing Park opened in the spring, offering a spot to stop and admire the lake from alongside East Lake Sammamish Trail.

The park is bare bones now, with a picnic shelter and grass field. But next year two docks will be repaired and opened to the public, allowing fishing and boating.

The park is a half-mile from the nearest public parking, though city plans call for a parking lot on the other side of East Lake Sammamish Parkway sometime in the coming years.

The city also partnered with the Lake Washington School District to add turf and overhead lights to an athletic field, extending the hours it can be used by youth and adult sports teams.

The city also approved a plan to open up a second access point to Evans Creek Preserve from Sahalee Way, eliminating the need for a car trip out of city limits.

 

Community garden

hits snag, gets moved

A permitting snafu for a proposed community garden in Beaver Lake Park led organizers to reconsider the location and suggest a new spot for the garden.

The council approved moving the garden to Lower Commons Park in November.

Up to 60 planter boxes will be available to Sammamish residents who don’t have their own garden plots.

 

History on display

The city-owned Reard House, a 115-year-old farm house that had been sitting in limbo for many years, finally found a new location – on a parcel of land slated to become part of a public park in the coming years.

The city elected to lease the home to the Sammamish Heritage Society for $1 a year, allowing the group to collect grant money for the home’s repair and remodel.

The home now sits on land that local resident Mary Pigott pledged to donate for use as a public park; the City Council is scheduled to approve a long-term plan for the park early next year.

 

Marijuana and marriage

Sammamish joined voters across the state in legalizing adult use of marijuana and upholding gay marriage on November’s ballot.

Sammamish once again leaned to the right of King County in most partisan races, but still voted for many Democrats, reelecting President Barack Obama and Reps. Larry Springer, Roger Goodman and Marcie Maxwell.

The election marked the first under the new electoral map approved late last year, which took the north half of the city into the 45th Legislative District, which includes Redmond and Kirkland, and moved the southern half into the city into the 41st District along with Issaquah, parts of Renton and Mercer Island.

 

A year-round place to swim

By a 53.6 to 46.4 margin, Sammamish voters gave their blessing to a plan to build a $30 million, 60,000 square foot aquatic and fitness facility on the so-called Kellman property behind the library.

The proposal calls for $25 million of the city’s reserves to be spent on the facility, with the YMCA agreeing to chip in an additional $5 million and furnish and run the facility.

City leaders are currently negotiating the details of an operating agreement for the facility, and the city could begin construction as soon as 2014.

 

Sammamish won’t

buy what they’re selling

In April, Sammamish passed an ordinance requiring most door-to-door solicitors to pass a background check and obtain a city license.

The law is meant to crack down on a rash of criminals posing as salespeople and violators can be arrested and charged with a misdemeanor crime.

 

A threat and an attack

Sammamish was not without its share of high-profile crimes in 2012. In May, 16-year-old Troy Alexander Lewis was arrested after groping a 10-year-old girl and 26-year-old woman in two seemingly random attacks just hours apart. Lewis pleaded guilty to several charges in connection with the attacks and received four years of probation and required therapy.

In September, 16-year-old former Skyline High School student Parker N. Mace was arrested after allegedly threatening on an online message board to shoot people at the school.

School officials elected to cancel classes that day due to the threat. Mace was charged with felony harassment and his case is pending.

 

City considers

fire service change

City councilmembers pondered a split from Eastside Fire & Rescue, the consortium of neighboring cities and fire districts that has provide fire service to the city since incorporation.

City leaders say the agency’s assessed value-based funding model leads to the city paying for a disproportionate share of fire stations it shares with Issaquah and King County Fire District 10, which serves Klahanie. Councilmembers have tempered their rhetoric in recent months as EFR partners meet regularly to discuss potential changes to the way it charges partners.

 

Ace Hardware has hard time

Sammamish residents packed City Council chambers in December to demand that the city do more to help Ace Hardware, which could not agree to the terms of a new lease with its commercial landlord for its longtime home in the Sammamish Highlands Shopping Center last year.

A plan to build a new facility in Town Center fell apart because of the costs of storm water ponds and structured parking and a lack of collaboration with neighboring properties.

Owner Tim Koch and a development team have targeted another parcel, just north of Mars Hill Church on 228th Avenue, though the plan will require emergency changes to zoning code and flexibility in the city’s environmental regulations.

The council is scheduled to take up the matter in January.

 

Town Center to get another look

After several years of waiting for the commercial real estate market to recover from the Great Recession while no projects broke ground, the city council heeded calls for another look at its Town Center Plan in December.

The council approved re-examining the plan in conjunction with an updated economic development plan to be produced next year.

The location and levels of density and requirements for structured parking will all be on the table.

 

Reach reporter Caleb Heeringa at 392-6434, ext. 247 or cheeringa@isspress.com.

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