Downtown refuge comes together in Issaquah
After 20 years of land acquisition and planning, Issaquah opens a new park where the main and east forks of Issaquah Creek meet in the Olde Town area.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Downtown Issaquah, where city officials are planning for high-density growth, now has a park that will be a place of refuge from the urban pace of life.
Construction fences have been removed, and a community celebration was held Wednesday at the 15½ acres of lawn, garden and forested creeks in the Olde Town area.
Neighbors have been exploring the city’s newest park, picnicking at tables built of wood grown on the same land, tossing baseballs, climbing kid-size boulders and taking meditative walks.
The picnic shelter is designed to look like the 1896 sawmill — later turned into a barn — that stood on the property before it deteriorated to the point where only a few items could be used in the new building.
Two metal likenesses of bald eagles, which swivel on posts like weather vanes, were installed this week to discourage geese that have begun leaving their calling cards on the ground.
Just across Rainier Boulevard North from the Darigold plant, the park is at the confluence of the main and east forks of Issaquah Creek.
Parks and Recreation Director Anne McGill calls the new park the crown jewel in a future “green necklace” of parks the city hopes to link with shaded trails for pedestrians and bicyclists.
“I think it’s one of those parks that as years go on it’s going to be more appreciated. As our town gets taller and more dense with people, people are going to be drawn to it as a place of respite,” McGill said.
The park doesn’t have a name yet — or at least not a single, official name.
Portions of the park, assembled by the city over the past 20 years, have their own names.
Two years after the city named its 1993 purchase Issaquah Creek Park, the late Julia Pritt donated land, with the stipulation that it be named after her granddaughters Cybil and Madeline.
Vern Anderson gave another parcel to the city in 2008, specifying that it be named after his grandfather, Tollë Anderson.
Until a citizen advisory committee comes up with something more definitive, city officials have been calling the combined properties “the Confluence area parks” or sometimes just Confluence Park.
Cybil, Madeline and Tollë’s names will be incorporated in some way into the larger park and its signs.
Under conditions of Pritt’s donation and a grant for purchase of some of the land, the park will be used for passive recreation. Two old farmhouses may be renovated for classes or meetings, however, and a small area may be turned into P-Patches or a demonstration garden in a partnership with Seattle Tilth.
The land was acquired through donations, county and state grants, and a 2006 voter-approved city park bond issue.
If city voters approve a $10 million park bond issue in November, $900,000 of the proceeds will extend trails in the new park, build a bridge across Issaquah Creek, remove blackberries and return a stretch of the creek to a natural state.
In the future, city officials want to expand the park by moving an adjacent maintenance facility. That land could be turned into a playground and parking lot and connected to the rest of the park by a second bridge, McGill said.
Keith Ervin: 206-464-2105 or firstname.lastname@example.org