Issaquah’s potential state park annexation is given more time for discussion

August 27, 2014

By Peter Clark

New: Aug. 27, 12:24 p.m.

Zoning questions held off an Issaquah City Council move toward annexing Lake Sammamish State Park.
At the Issaquah council’s Aug. 4 meeting, they deferred action on the next step in the process of annexing the park to their Sept. 8 meeting, citing a desire to study the issue further.
The park would still be owned and operated by the state, but would be considered to be in Issaquah instead of King County for purposes of permitting.
The proposal came up in April after the state parks department presented the idea to city officials.
Issaquah’s Long Range Planner, Trish Heinonen, said the idea came from last year’s securing of $5 million for improvements to the 512-acre state park.
“The state parks and the city started to talk to each other because there was the threat that the state, next year in their budget discussions, might pull the funding for some of the improvements that have been going on.” Heinonen said.
She added that the city’s annexation would streamline the shared goal of city and State Parks officials to encourage more use in the park through development.
“The reason they approached us was partnership,” Heinonen said. “We’d been partnering with them on the advisory committee and they wanted to partner with us on the permitting.”
The action discussed in the Aug. 4 meeting would authorize Mayor Fred Butler to submit a notice to the Washington State Boundary Review Board for King County, while the council and State Parks works out the terms.
“I’ve reviewed this really closely and really the zoning and the critical areas are my only concern,” Issaquah City Council President Paul Winterstein said.
As city and State Parks officials work to bring economic development opportunities to the park, Winterstein and other council members worried how the current zoning would affect their efforts, especially considering adjacent wetland areas.
Because of the zoning questions and other council concerns regarding what Issaquah residents would get out of an annexation, the council ultimately decided to move the topic to the Sept. 8 work session. Councilman Tola Marts endorsed the further discussion “in the spirit of measure twice and cut once” and to collect any additional public comment.
Should the council adopt the letter of intent in time, Heinonen said she hopes the staff can present the city’s case to the Boundary Review Board during its October meeting and have a recommendation by November. If the board were to give a recommendation, the City Council would then need to hold a public hearing before making a final decision.
“I think it’ll be a better-run park under our jurisdiction,” Heinonen said. “We just want to get it done hopefully before the legislative session.”

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