New Sammamish park names panned

March 5, 2013

By Caleb Heeringa

New: March 5, 1:36 p.m.

The Sammamish City Council gave its blessing to the first set of improvements to the city’s newest park, though several councilmembers continue to question the scope of long-term plans for the property.

Southeast Eighth Street Park, which is being donated by local resident Mary Pigott piece-by-piece to the city over the next decade or so, will receive 40 roadside parking stalls, improved trails and new restrooms as part of the plan. The city hopes to begin designs this summer with construction likely following in 2014.

The $457,000 project focuses only on “Site A” – the only parcel currently open to the public, just south of Southeast Eighth Street. Councilmembers were generally supportive of the improvements, but several had qualms about longer-term goals and the $3.9 million total price tag in the park’s master plan. That’s a common refrain from several on the council, who have raised red flags about similar long-term plans at Sammamish Landing and Beaver Lake Park.

“The problem with our master plans is that I think we overplan financially from a cost standpoint,” Councilwoman Nancy Whitten said. “It’s too much to accept a $3.9 million plan for a park that was supposed to be passive.”

The broader plan calls for the 51-acre property to serve as something of a nature-themed educational experience, with elevated walkways bringing users through wetlands and the tree canopy and an “educational circle” allowing student groups to come and learn. The park also contains several buildings, including a newer home on the north property that could be used as some sort of senior activity center and several older buildings on the southern parcel that could host heritage-themed events, including the recently moved Reard House.

Parks Director Jessi Bon and City Manager Ben Yazici repeated a common refrain: that master plans reflect broad goals that could take 20 or 30 years to accomplish as money becomes available.

The city adopted the master plan process for its parks shortly after the city incorporated to make sure any parks improvements were being coordinated with the future in mind rather than in a haphazard fashion, Yazici said.

Councilman Don Gerend said the the long-term vision of the plan reflects Pigott’s request for how the property be used. He noted that the city had already trimmed down its initial designs for the land, which included a community orchard and small outdoor amphitheater.

“I am comfortable with this design,” Gerend said. “The citizens have been asking what vision we have for (the park.) The first vision felt too intensive, so we modified it and scaled it down.”

The question of what to do with the buildings on the property continued to give several councilmembers pause. Initial attempts to turn the Reard House and nearby Tanner House into heritage-themed event halls that could be rented met fierce opposition from neighbors just north of Southeast 20th Street, who complained that the resulting traffic would ruin the residential character of their cul-de-sac filled neighborhood.

The result leaves the buildings in a bit of a limbo – the Sammamish Heritage Society continues to use grant money to repair the outside of the home, but there are no immediate plans for what to do with it once it is restored. The master plan does call for 10 parking spots to be added near the home – considered a bare minimum for access to the southern parcel. The property contains other outbuildings that could be torn down as a part of development.

Whitten said it makes no sense to agree to a long-term plan for the property that leaves out crucial details about what to do with the buildings.

“Instead of ducking the issue I think we need to take a position as part of the master plan,” she said.

Bon said the city is in a unique position in that it doesn’t currently own the property in question. The south parcel is due to be donated to the city in the next three to five years.

“We don’t own this property,” Bon said. “I don’t think it’s appropriate to plan to tear down structures we don’t even own yet. When the property is transferred, we’ll have that discussion.”

Whitten also took issue with the plan to install “waterless restrooms” similar to one that was recently installed in Evans Creek Preserve. The restrooms are essentially pit toilets, and thus don’t require a sewer connection, but use solar-powered ventilation to cut down on odors and remove the moisture from human waste.

“I’m tired, as a woman, of having to use second-class bathrooms,” Whitten said. “It’s an unpleasant experience to go into a waterless bathroom. It may be more appropriate at Evans Creek Preserve that’s out in the county, but this is in the middle of the heart of the city.”

Gerend countered that the city hopes to eventually connect the park to Lower Commons, which has nicer bathrooms available.

The council approved moving forward with the first phase of park development on a 4-3 vote, with Whitten, Mayor Tom Odell and Deputy Mayor Ramiro Valderrama opposed.

 

Creative names for Sammamish’s next park

  • Sammamish Eden
  • Serenity Park
  • 51 Acres of Kindness Park
  • Friendship Park
  • A Park for Everyone
  • Awesome Park
  • Park Awesome
  • Dude Park
  • Epic Park
  • Odd Park
  • Perfectly Playful Park
  • Pumpkin Pie Park
  • Sonics Park
  • The Legend Park
  • Zebra Park

 

Back to the drawing board

The committee tasked with coming up with a name for Sammamish’s newest park narrowed down a list of 100 potential names to eight options, but none of the options sat well with the city council.

The committee will go back to the drawing board after none of the name suggestions seemed to fit the 51-acre parcel. The committee’s suggestions included: 51 Acres Park, Big Rock Park, Heritage Park, Big Meadow Park, Owl Pond Park, Backyard Trails Park, Sammamish Backyard Park and Sammamish Trails Park.

Big Rock Park seemed to garner some attention, but the fact that Duvall already has a Big Rock Park took some of the enthusiasm out of the idea.

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Comments

6 Responses to “New Sammamish park names panned”

  1. Michael Sullivan on March 5th, 2013 2:03 pm

    You have got to be kidding me. Park names? Second class bathrooms? If this is what the Sammamish City Council is spending their time discussing, allow me give them a few suggestions for topics to talk about that are a bit more impactful and pertinent to the citizenry at large:

    - What on Earth is going on with our town center project? How is it possible that we’ve made next to no progress here in the span of about a year since Ace Hardware got kicked out of their lease?

    - What is the City’s plan to maintain open space? Development after development after development is going in and frankly most people in Sammamish are growing tired of it. People move to Sammamish because they like having some open space. Might I suggest that the city consider building a town center if they are concerned about the tax revenue impact of slowing new housing?

    - When can we expect coordinated traffic signals along 228th Avenue? The situation on that road is laughable on the weekends, when on-demand traffic from side streets often causes cars on 228th to stop at 5+ lights on a single trip. It makes Redmond Way through downtown Redmond look well thought out.

    - Why hasn’t anyone asked questions about why it took six minutes for Sammamish City Police to respond to a suicide call at Skyline, when that building is literally across the street from the police station?

    - Why is the gate at the rear exit to Eastlake High School always open on the weekends despite the sign on the gate stating it should be closed?

    When the council answers those questions, then they can start talking about waterless bathrooms.

  2. Scott Hamilton on March 5th, 2013 9:01 pm

    Given that the names suggested were truly awful, maybe the park with no name should be named The Park with No Name.

  3. Ex-Sammamish Resident on March 6th, 2013 7:20 am

    Agree with Michael Sullivan – this is what the city is concerned about? I used to live in Sammamish, but I left and moved Seattle many years ago.

    Even after many years, whenever I read anything about the place, I’m reminded why. The leadership (and so many of my neighbors) were pretentious, out of touch, and overly concerned about things that wouldn’t even be worth discussing most places. I see nothing has changed.

    Sammamish was a nice place before it was incorporated, but you’ve turned a quiet rural getaway into a soulless city of McMansions. It’ll never be the quiet place it was before incorporation, nor can it be a true suburban oasis (like Redmond, Issaquah, or even Duvall) due to the limited transportation infrastructure available to get there. Instead it’s doomed to a purgatory, something in-between, with the worst of possible destinies.

  4. Art Francis on March 6th, 2013 7:33 am

    Here are a few new park names for consideration

    Sammamish Greens Park
    Plateau Park
    Hiltop Park

    Even better, why not sell the naming rights, charge an annual fee like Safeco Field and use the payments to fund the improvements you are looking for? Why must you keep going after more dollars from the people when there are plenty of private dollars available? I am sure there are plenty of Microsoft dollars on the plateau willing to have a park named after them and pay the improvements if their name is on the park? Think outside thebox for a change, no always inside my wallet!

  5. Jon Anderson on March 7th, 2013 10:28 pm

    Ex-Sammamish Resident -

    Excellent points.

    Ouch! The emperor has no clothes…

    Soulless city is right. It starts and ends with the residents – if you’re one of them, you need to start some serious introspection. The city of Sammamish is getting an ugly reputation.

  6. Mack Dunbar on March 10th, 2013 12:27 am

    Art Francis’ suggested names are excellent,.

    I also agree with Art’s suggestions to incorporate sponsored names into the options. Good call.

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