City Council approves design process for Sammamish Landing parking, access ramp

December 19, 2013

By Ari Cetron

New: Dec. 19, 11:16 a.m.

Councilman John James wanted one more shot.

On Dec. 10, in his last meeting on the Sammamish City Council, James requested the council discuss the idea of funding a parking lot at Sammamish Landing Park, along with a ramp to make the facility handicapped accessible.

The park sits on a narrow strip along Lake Sammamish at the northern edge of the city. It provides the only public access to the lake within city limits. On Oct. 1, the city’s Parks Department came to the council to request $882,000 in funding for a parking lot, $550,000 for a ramp to make the park handicapped accessible, and $553,000 for a restroom.

At the time, the council was generally opposed to the restroom, and wasn’t too keen on the parking lot. The ramp is required under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, but the council didn’t seem particularly impressed and was hesitant to spend money on it.

At the time, James had wanted to see the proposal come up again before the end of the year, and he made sure it came up at the last meeting of 2013. Since Oct. 1, there had been some changes around the park area.

In spite of there being no official parking, the park has been wildly successful. Many park goers park on 187th Avenue in Redmond and walk back, or try and park along the East Lake Sammamish Parkway.

Redmond recently added bike lanes to 187th, which has essentially removed any parking from that street.

The result is a potential safety hazard as people try to park on other nearby streets and dart across the parkway – children in tow – to reach the park.

Councilman John Curley said the city had built a park that’s lovely but dangerous.

“We’ve created a petting zoo with alligators,” he said.

Curley said he was not happy with spending the money for the parking lot, but he could not vote against something he saw as a safety necessity.

Councilman Ramiro Valderrama saw it differently. While he said it might be a worthy project, he said it should be incorporated into the city’s usual budget process.

Valderrama and other council members also suggested asking Redmond to chip in, since many of the park users are Redmond residents.

In 2008, Redmond donated to Sammamish about half of the land on which the park sits.

Councilman Tom Vance blasted the idea of requesting help. He noted that Sammamish residents frequent parks in other cities which they don’t pay for, so it’s foolish to start demanding other cities pay for parks in Sammamish.

Mayor Tom Odell wanted to wait before finalizing a plan. He recognized that parking and an access ramp are needed, but felt it would be better to wait and try to find a better way of going about it.

The council chose to take a step toward building the lot. It authorized funding the design costs of the parking lot and ramp – an estimated $150,000 – on a 5-2 vote. Valderrama and Odell were opposed.

The council will still need to authorize funding construction, once design work is complete. If all goes smoothly, there’s a chance the lot could be open by the end of summer 2014.

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