Council lukewarm on Sammamish Landing improvements

October 6, 2013

By Ari Cetron

New: Oct. 6, 2:17 p.m.

Sammamish Landing Park will likely not be getting new restroom facilities, and a potential parking lot is in limbo after the Oct. 1 City Council meeting.

City parks officials presented the council with a plan to build a new 35-stall parking lot, access for disabled people, and a restroom structure at a total cost of nearly $2 million.

The City Council pounced on the plan. While they acknowledged the need for parking, they questioned the price tag, and particularly questioned the idea that a new restroom facility would cost about a half-million dollars.

The park is located on the shore of Lake Sammamish at the northern edge of the city. It opened this year and provides the only public access to the lake within the city limits.

When the city began building the park, they had – and still have – land across East Lake Sammamish Parkway they’ve intended to use as a parking lot. The council initially balked at the price tag and went ahead building the park without any parking. The park has been wildly popular, and a victim of its own success. There’s no nearby parking and residents have either been lining the parkway or 187th Avenue in Redmond.

Now Redmond has plans to alter 187th, making parking there problematic, and making the need for parking more acute, particularly as the park’s popularity grows.

“We know that the usage will increase,” Sammamish City Manager Ben Yazici said.

Yazici noted that the money to provide a solution is not in the current budget, but could be paid out of reserves at the end of the budget year. The city is projecting about $14 million in budget reserves at the end of the calendar year, in addition to existing reserves.

Parks department officials estimate the parking lot will cost $882,000; the restroom $553,000 and the handicapped-accessible ramp another $550,000.

Parks Director Jessi Bon said the restroom costs could be most easily dropped from the budget. The parking, she said, is a need, and the ramp is mandated under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

Councilwoman Nancy Whitten was not happy with the costs, or the funding sources.

“I think there’s creep in spending the $14 million,” she said.

She also noted that many of the people who use the park are from Redmond, and believed Redmond should chip in to help defray the parking costs. Other council members agreed with Whitten that Redmond should chip in, as well as King County, since many who use the park are also users of the nearby Lake Sammamish Trail.

City Manager Ben Yazici said that he would discuss the matter with Redmond, since that’s what the council wants. He said, however, that Redmond has been a great neighbor which already provided much of the land for the park. He further noted that Sammamish residents frequent parks in other cities, and those places don’t ask Sammamish for money.

“You can’t just draw the boundaries at your city limits,” he said.

While most of the council was unhappy with the proposed construction, Councilman John James said the city should build the parking lot, since it had created what he called a public safety hazard in building the park without a parking lot.

However, he attacked the proposed restroom, noting that there are many homes in Sammamish that cost less.

Anjali Meyer, the city’s parks program manager, explained that the restrooms themselves – including two stalls for women, a stall and a urinal for men, and public showers – would cost $200,000.

There would be another $120,000 in utility work, since the sewer line is on the opposite side of the parkway, and then an additional 20 percent for soft costs like design work, 10 percent for contingency funds and another 9.5 percent for sales taxes.

The council was hesitant to commit to any part of the project, noting the ballooning costs for the Community Center, currently expected to run $4 million over its $30 million budget.

The council decided to put the improvements on hold until after the community center’s next design review meeting, so they can better gauge available funds.

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