Sammamish Parks plan approved after testy exchange

July 9, 2014

By Ari Cetron

New: July 9, 11:59 a.m.

It was only supposed to take a couple minutes, but instead. approval of a long-term plan for parks improvements turned into a testy exchange between the Sammamish city manager and a city councilman.
The council ended up approving the parks’ capital improvements plan on a 5-2 vote, with councilmen Ramiro Valderrama and Tom Odell dissenting at a July 1 meeting.
The council had previously discussed the issue in a June 10 study session. The six-year plan lays out a wish list of new parks-related features and suggests when the city might begin to study or build them.
It does not appropriate any funds for any of the projects; that must still happen through the normal budgeting process. If everything were to be built as scheduled, the plan would cost $35.7 million over those six years. Of that, $22.6 million would go to the new Community Center.
Valderrama criticized the plan. He said it simply lays out what the city wants to buy, but does not list what the priorities are. He argued that the City Council needs to know those priorities, and to be able to place them within a larger budget context, in order to make decisions about which ones to fund.
City Manager Ben Yazici appeared frustrated with the line of questioning, since many of these issues had already been raised during the study session.
“We had that very discussion, here, two weeks ago,” Yazici said. “I’m trying to understand what are the new questions here we haven’t discussed.”
Others on the council generally agreed the city should have a broader discussion of parks, including taking a longer-term look and prioritizing the plans.
“Is it too big a wish list?” said Councilwoman Nancy Whitten.
However, Whitten said, that discussion should wait for another time.
Odell said he did not feel comfortable voting on the overall plan until details of some specific projects had been fleshed out.

Projects
The approved plan calls for a series of projects to be undertaken next year. Again, each of the items must still be approved during the city’s budget process.

  • $340,000 for a bathroom at Sammamish Landing Park. Of that, $100,000 is related to the cost of making a connection to a sewer line.
  • $200,000 would fund projects at Beaver Lake Preserve, including restoration of the picnic meadow and some trail work.
  • $25,000 for trail work at Evans Creek Preserve.
  • $300,000 for a trail connecting the Sammamish Commons to Big Rock Park.
  • $250,000 for land acquisition.
  • $21.7 million for the Community Center.
  • $50,000 to begin a study for a potential indoor field house on land owned by the YMCA near Pine Lake Middle School.
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