Facilities for teens and seniors emerge as a priority for Sammamish residents
By JAKE LYNCH
Sammamish Reporter Editor
February 24, 2010 · 9:12 AM
More programs and facilities for seniors, a cultural/performing arts center, a swimming pool, and the preservation of existing green spaces are emerging as some of the priorities of Sammamish residents as the city continues its series of public meetings to discuss its parks and recreation plans.
City Parks Department staff kicked off the "Have a Say in How We Play," program on Monday night, with about a dozen residents gathering at Discovery Elementary to discuss what they liked, didn't like, and hoped to see in the future in the parks and community spaces on the Plateau.
On Tuesday night, a smaller group of four or five residents met at Sunny Hills Elementary to add their input.
Their comments ranged from the cynical and critical to the positive and complimentary. Already City of Sammamish Parks Director Jessi Richardson can see a pattern of similar concerns emerging.
"As a young city, we are continually being pulled in all sorts of directions," Richardson said, adding that this public input process was vital for staff and councilors to understand what truly were the priorities of city residents. "It doesn't mean we can do everything, at 100 percent, but it means we can start to prioritize things."
One of those priorities will likely be the construction of a new recreational swimming pool.
Said one resident "I spend six days a week in the summer driving to Bellevue to use the pool there, because I don't do lakes," adding that this was a financial drain as well as a convenience issue. She added she would be happy to pay a membership fee to use a pool in Sammamish, particularly an outdoor pool. "And Pine Lake is useless in the summer, because you want the sun, and there are too many trees."
One resident felt the focus on parks development so far had been on children.
"There is a huge population of older residents who need to be considered," she said. "The things we enjoy in our parks are serenity, beauty, and peace. We use them to relax, and to enjoy the wildlife. I really feel like we are being bypassed - that a lot of the parks we had are being turned over to the kids."
One of the buzzwords in city planning at the moment again raised its head - connectivity. There was consensus among the small group on Tuesday that the city should work on making it easy and safe for residents to walk or ride to parks on the Plateau - including safe access along 212th Ave. SE to Ebright Creek Park, across 228th Ave. SE on the way to Pine Lake Park, and a trail link from Beaver Lake Park to Beaver Lake Preserve to its northeast and Soaring Eagle Park. The comment was also made that it would be great to be able to walk down off the Plateau to access the East Lake Sammamish trail.
Another message the city is hearing is that there needs to be more recreation options for children and young adults.
"The only thing for our teens and tweens to do up here is the skate park, or the Safeway and QFC parking lot," said one parent, adding that "it would be nice if there were more all-weather ball fields instead of the muddy swamps we have now."
There were a number of complaints about the Sammamish Commons near City Hall, with residents feeling it was unappealing, and didn't have the facilities to attract young families.
The meeting was also an opportunity for the Parks Department to correct some rumors. One resident said she understood the city was planning on forcing events, such as the Concerts in the Park series, from Pine Lake to the Sammamish Commons.
"I can assure you that's not in our plans," Richardson said.
Of course, all of the cities plans for its parks and cultural events are contingent on funding and revenues, an issue which at times threatened to gridlock Monday night's discussion. But Richardson said before any serious discussion on where the money would come from, the city needed to accurately prioritize what improvements it should be making.
On the positive side, there was a great deal of praise for the city's volunteer coordination program, its focus on replacing invasive species with native plants, and the exhibitions staged in City Hall by the Sammamish Arts Commission.
The "Have a Say in How We Play" series will continue at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, at Cascade Ridge Elementary.
Monday, March 1 - City Hall
6:30 – 8 p.m.
Wednesday, March 3 - Beaver Lake Lodge
6:30 – 8 p.m.
Monday, March 8 - Blackwell Elementary
6:30 – 8 p.m.
Thursday, March 11 - Rachel Carson Elementary
6:30 - 8 p.m.
Saturday, March 13 - City Hall
9 – 10:30 a.m.
Wednesday, March 17 - Samantha Smith Elementary
6:30 – 8 p.m.
Thursday, March 18 - Margaret Mead Elementary
6:30 – 8 p.m.Contact Sammamish Reporter Editor Jake Lynch at email@example.com.