Finn Hill Park & Recreation District asks: What would YOU do with $185,000?

Finn Hill Park & Recreation District asks: What would YOU do with $185,000?

Dear Finn Hill friends and neighbors: The Finn Hill Park & Recreation District (FHPRD) has $185,000 that it wants to designate for Finn Hill park and open space projects by November 7. The FHPRD commissioners have identified uses for the money but they would like to give the public a final opportunity for suggestions.

Read on to learn more – and please plan to attend the FHNA meeting on November 6 to hear from the commissioners directly and to offer your ideas.


Since 2003, the FHPRD has maintained O.O. Denny Park with funds paid by Finn Hill residents through a special property tax assessment. The vote for the Kirkland park levy in 2012 gave the City the financial resources to take over O.O. Denny Park maintenance (which it began to do in April).  As a result, the FHPRD has stopped collecting the property assessment and is dissolving itself at the end of 2013.

The good news is that the FHPRD commissioners – all elected volunteers – have not only kept the park in good shape but they’ve also managed to build up a reserve fund that they plan to transfer to the City for improvements to Finn Hill parks.

The fund is $185,000 and the commissioners invite final input on how it should be spent. They’ll give a presentation at our November 6 neighborhood meeting and welcome your suggestions.

Some rules:

By law, the FHPRD can’t just hand the funds to the City without restrictions. The commissioners want to ensure that the money is spent in Finn Hill for parks and for the benefit of the residents who paid the property assessments to the FHPRD. In brief, the commissioners want to the money to be spent:

·         On Finn Hill parks or open space. (Note: this excludes Big Finn Hill and Juanita Woodlands, which are King County parks.)

·         For capital projects, like land acquisition or park amenities. (So that the money doesn’t “disappear” into ongoing park maintenance costs, which are already covered by the Kirkland park levy.)

·         On stand-alone projects that can be completed, or at least launched, quickly. (So that the money doesn’t “disappear” into a long-term capital project that has to be funded from a variety of sources.)

Suggested Projects – Sprinkler system and a second shelter in O.O. Denny Park

The commissioners have determined that two good uses for the funds are the installation of a sprinkler system for the main lawn in O.O. Denny Park (to keep it green in the summer, using Kirkland’s rights to Lake Washington water) and the construction of a second shelter north of the park’s existing shelter. Surplus money can be used to improve access to the newly expanded Juanita Heights Park.

The commissioners haven’t heard other specific suggestions from residents, but they’re still open to good ideas.

Deadline – November 6:

The FHPRD has to tell Kirkland how to spend the $185,000 very soon, so that all of the paperwork can be approved before the district dissolves at the end of the year.  The FHPRD commissioners will take recommendations through November 6 – the date of our neighborhood meeting.

Three ways to submit ideas:

·         You can make comments on the FHNA website or by a reply email. (We’ll pass your comments along to the commissioners.)

·         Or you can go to FHNA’s November 6 meeting to hear the commissioners’ presentation and offer your own suggestions right there. (Meeting details on our website and provided in a separate email.)

·         Or you can attend the FHPRD’s own public meeting on November 7. That will be your last chance to comment.  The commissioners plan to make their final decision at the November 7 meeting.

Because the FHPRD commissioners need to make a decision quickly, they are asking that suggestions be  positive (i.e. for a project rather than against one) and as specific as possible.

So, if you’ve been harboring a great idea for a park or a park improvement in Finn Hill, NOW is the time to tell the FHPRD.

Please add your comment below.

Best regards,


Scott Morris

Finn Hill Neighborhood Alliance – President

(formerly Denny Creek Neighborhood Alliance)| 206-972-9493

PO Box 682, Kirkland WA 98083



16 Responses to “Finn Hill Park & Recreation District asks: What would YOU do with $185,000?”

  1. Jon Pascal says:

    I would like to see the money spent on improving and rebuilding the trails into Big Finn Hill Park from O.O. Denny Park. This could include regrading, construction of turnpikes, boardwalk, interpretive signage, and trailhead markers where the trails begin/end at 72nd Avenue and 76th Avenue. An agreement with KC Parks would need to be worked out, but those trails are in desperate need of repair and formal marking. It would also be good to develop a trail plan for all of Finn Hill to identify how we could connect our neighborhood through a series of trails utilizing the various greenbelts, public right of way, open space, and parks that exist in our neighborhood and immediately adjacent. I envision a neighborhood connected with a series of trails from eastern Finn Hill to 100th Avenue, or from Juanita Heights Park down to Juanita Village. Such a network can be done faster and at less cost that building miles of sidewalks. We need a trail plan so that we can identify how we begin implementing such a vision.

  2. JenB says:

    I would like to see more tot-lots in the Northeast area of Finn Hill. The City has a goal of enabling each person to have access to a park within a quarter-mile of where they live. Consider buying a lot and offering children an opportunity to play in a park in one of the Northeast neighborhoods.

  3. Ellen Haas says:

    I would like to see the money spent on some of these projects: (these range along trails in OODenny which are named on the new map. Some are in Denny, some in BFH. If Kirkland can arrange with King County to maintain the BFH part of Denny park, all these would be fundable with FHPRD funds)
    1) signage in the park, large sign with historical info in waterfront park, 4 signs in inland park – marking entry to Sue MacDonald area, marking Sylvia and two larger trees, marking erratic rock and glacial evidence at horseshoe bend, marking forest diversity at overlook on upper loop trail.
    2) restoration and development of flat area by stone bridge where multiple trunked alders have fallen and been covered with blackberries. Clean out beer cans and fire pits, clear blackberries, stabilize bank, install amphitheater-like sitting area with some cover.
    3) restoration and development of area across grassy lawn and uphill from inland parking lot – kids have made trail and trampled area up there. Improve hillside trail, make nice sitting area with lake overlook.
    4) restoration and development of the area above the huge fallen tree near Sylvia. Kids have trampled widely up there. Clean up, restore hillside trail, create nice sitting area.
    5) rather than a shelter, add a second playground in the waterfront park. People are asking for more swings, wider slides, a spider web climber, a zipline sliding device, monkey bars, and for a rustic playscape like the one developed by parents at Sandburg.
    6) I like irrigating the lawn at waterfront park.
    7) Use funds to improve Juanita Heights park.

  4. Warren Raven says:

    Center turn lane from the Kenmore line to just after the wooded area at the south end of Holmes Point drive. Bike lane with guard rail between the car lane and bike lane. Need a Stop light with turn lanes at Juanita Dr and NE 132nd Street. Bridge over Denny Creek at that same location connecting NE 132nd to all the way to 72nd Ave NE. With side walk and enough room to park a car on the street so people can bike or walk in the woods. A bridge-cross walk over Juanita drive at NE 132ne Street so kids can walk to school. CSE and FHJH. Saving bus money. Next a metal fence all along Juanita beach so no one can just walk into the street. Dig under Juanita drive so people can cross where the old entrance to Juanita Beach was. Put the new parking lot on the tennis court side of Juanita beach and dig up the old one so we can have grass and big concerts on the beach to make money for the city.

  5. Warren Raven says:

    Can a raised boardwalk be made from the top of Denny Creek at Juanita Drive to the Lake? On the West side of the Creek. So everyone can walk and ride from top to bottom without erosion happening with just a dirt path. Keeping the Creek in view the whole time.

  6. Kathy Schuler says:

    Consider applying the funds to the following:

    Acquire a parcel in the northeast corner of Finn Hill for a park/tot-lot. This area of Finn Hill is in need of park open-space. The residents in this area, according to the goals of Kirkland Parks and Community Service, should be within a quarter mile access of a park.

    A trail plan is needed to connect the parks and open spaces on Finn Hill. The most pressing need is to create a trail from Juanita Beach to the top of Finn Hill.

    Convert the A-Frame structure on the Juanita Heights Park property into an Environmental Center usable by groups for workshops, meetings, and summer adult, youth and children’s classes.

    Juanita Heights Park was originally 3.45 acres and was expanded by 67% with the acquisition of 6 parcels of 2.3 acres in March 2013. A quarter-mile loop trail exists in the original park. The funds can be used to develop a trail into the newly acquired 2.3 acres.

  7. Mimi Henderson says:

    Jon I agree with your ideas of connecting our neighborhoods through a series of trails utilizing various greenbelts …I totally agree with your ideas. I’ve been wanting a safe way to walk and/or bike to school from our neighborhood, Hermosa Vista. Currently, the only way my children can get to school is via Juanita Drive.

  8. Mimi Henderson says:

    I agree with you that “the most pressing need is to create a trial from Juanita Beach to the top of Finn Hill.” There are currently greenbelts that could provide access if only someone would create a trail through them.

  9. Mimi Henderson says:

    I would like more pedestrian/bike safe trails. My neighborhood, Hermosa Vista, is very isolated. The only way to get in and out of the neighborhood is via Juanita Drive. My children can not walk or bike to school safely. There are greenbelts that could be used to make safe trails to Juanita Beach and to upper Finn Hill.

    I would also like to see more neighborhood playgrounds to encourage community interaction. We have empty round a bouts that are growing blackberries. I would love to see a small play structure instead of the invasive weeds.

  10. Jeanette Leach says:

    Pocket parks: Kirkland owns a number of small plots of land on the top of Finn Hill that could be turned into parks for playgrounds, dog parks or simply a patch of grass with a bench and few trees. Although Finn Hill has lots of acres of green park, NE Finn Hill is seriously under served by parks and closing this gap should be a top priority.

    Dogs: Over 50% of Kirkland households have a dog, yet the ability to romp off leash legally or walk with the dog off leash legally is not available on Finn Hill. Within Kirkland there is only Jasper dog park.

    O.O. Denny trails have had a lot of work recently with Kirkland Parks funds, but the connections from O. O. Denny though Big Finn to 76th Ave NE as well as the MacDonald preserve trail need considerable work including a couple of bridges and safe stairs. (Although Big Finn is a King County Park, it is within the tax district and is used by the tax payers for the park funds so this could be a cooperative project.)

    Formalize a trail easement with the property owners on 72nd Ave NE for the connection of the “Valley Trail” (out of O.O. Denny) to 72nd Ave NE.

    Trail connection from Hermosa Vista to the top of the Finn Hill – this is likely to require negotiations with private property owners and/or government land owners

    Trail up the ravine in the property near Simonds Rd acquired by Kirkland Parks earlier this year.

    Trail through Juanita Heights down to Juanita. This could be a volunteer project (or series of volunteer projects).

    I would like to see the money spent only within the district where home owners paid into the tax fund and only on park/trail projects. I would be dismayed to see the funds spent elsewhere in Kirkland , on projects outside the scope of parks or dumped into a Kirkland general fund.

  11. Hi Warren: KC Parks recently evaluated the option of making a trail down the Denny Creek ravine from near Juanita drive to connect to O.O. Denny (and then on to Lake Washington). The issues encountered: the ravine is very steep and unstable with several landslides. New trail construction has to be at least 60 feet from the creek (that is horizontal 60 feet). With those two, they decided it was not practical.

    One can walk from the top of the hill down to O.O. Denny and then Lake Washington by taking the path from 72nd (across private property) to the Valley Trail, then O.O. Denny and the lake. The trails are shown in the O.O. Denny brochure (which I’ve tried to attach to the post)

  12. Tracy Doering says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with Jeanette’s comments about the need for legal dog off-leash recreation on Finn Hill and new spaces for dog off-leash areas. We could (should) also allocate space in our existing parks — designated trails and/or limited hours for off-leash recreation. In the 11 years that I have lived in this neighborhood, I have witnessed that dog owners are the biggest park user group, and they are out there in every type of weather, rain or shine. I would love to see limited hours beach/water and trail off-leash access at O.O. Denny to allow neighborhood residents to exercise their dogs before/after work. What’s the cost for that? Signage and volunteer help to maintain an off-leash area, educate and self-police. From input that KDOG has received in connection with Kirkland 2035 planning surveys, off-leash beach/water and trail recreation are at the top of the list of what Kirkland dog owners want. The designated trails or space (including trails)/limited hours model has been successful at parks in many other cities, including Bellingham and Bend, OR (to name a few smaller cities like Kirkland, but there are many more – Seattle, Tacoma, Portland/Vancouver, Vancouver, B.C. and Victoria, B.C.). We need to reduce the carbon footprint and create off-leash areas that people can walk to in their own neighborhoods. Off-leash areas cost so very little in comparison to other types of parks or park infrastructure.

    As to the proposal for another shelter (or any other structures) at O.O. Denny, I really don’t see a need for additional structures, except the signage and improvements to the trail that Ellen suggested (especially the improvements to the trail area). It would be so disappointing to me if O.O. Denny took on the look and feel of a manicured park with too many structures. I love that it is natural and rustic, and I hope it stays that way. If any playground equipment is added, please, please keep it as natural-looking as possible so that it blends with the environment.

    I also agree with the comments about connected trails, including from Juanita Beach up the hill. We are so fortunate to live in this wonderful neighborhood with its beautiful green spaces, but with our narrow winding roads, we could do a much better job in connecting trails so that people can walk the neighborhood without fear of being hit by a car.

  13. This is really cool–love the blogging, & this windfall $$ could truly beautify these parks. I’d like to see the money spent on:

    1. A GAZEBO park shelter in O.O.Denny park designed with a view of Mt. Rainier, sited probably near the shore. A well-designed structure lined with inside benches would be in constant use, as the other shelter is.(I’d leave out the sprinkler system as this would only be useful for a month or so). Could we add a second gazebo in another park, for good measure?

    2. SIGNAGE throughout O.O. Denny Park and other parks (which may cost in the hundreds, not thousands); agree with Ellen Haas on a large sign with historical narratives in the waterfront park, marking the original Denny family’s land and homestead (captions already written) and other signs.

    3. Sculptures and artworks. Why is it that none of the parks in our area have any public art? It’s a noticeable absence, considering all the artists living here. I’d like to see some sort of Call for Public Art (bronze, stone, mixed media, murals). Could this be part of the Gazebo structure?.

    4. A Community Center/Environmental Center/{Museum?}, suggested by Kathy Schuler, is a great idea, especially if it could be accomplished quickly and could tap future funds for continued maintenance.

    5. BENCHES alongside trails so people can stop and rest and enjoy the lookouts/ravines. I like using the $ for trail restoration but would rather dedicate more money to new structures (and public art) that couldn’t otherwise be funded so easily perhaps.

  14. Sherry Rind says:

    There are any number of desirable things to spend money on for park improvement and there are a few necessary things. What would get the most use–shelters or improved trails? Judging from the number of people I see, I’d say trails.

    There’s another necessity: a fenced off-leash dog area. I can’t speak for the other parks, but I know that most people who take their dogs to Big Finn Hill Park view all the playfields and even the trails as an off-leash area. Why not? Nobody enforces the leash law, nobody seems concerned about dogs running loose in play areas meant for people, and dogs do need a place to run.

    But that place should not be just anywhere in any park. There are many, many dogs in Kirkland and only one off-leash area. Setting aside an off-leash area will serve the dog owners of Finn Hill neighborhoods as well as those people who want to walk and play in the parks without being interfered with by loose dogs, including those of us who keep our dogs on a leash.

    It’s well known that leashed and off-leash dogs do not mix well. The off-leash dogs gallop up to the leashed dogs, wanting to sniff and play and generally ignoring the calls of their owners. The leashed dog is prevented from responding in like manner and using the same “dog language” to communicate with the loose dog. The person holding the leash, who may have been working on training or trying to keep up a certain pace, is prevented from continuing the walk in the way she had intended. The result is anything from a few minutes of chaos to a real threat (yes, that happened when two dogs converged on mine).

    We can solve these problems and keep our parks cleaner for people by providing a place for dogs to run.

  15. Stephanie Develle says:

    Our neighborhood (Upper Holmes Point, accessed by car only via 138th Place/72nd Avenue) has NO playgrounds or parks. Crossing Juanita Drive, to go to Big Finn Hill, with small children is terrifyingly dangerous.
    Two suggestions:
    1) buy the vacant (and ivy-infested!) lot at approximately 12753 72nd Avenue Northeast and convert it to a natural playground, with lots of neighborhood help, or another in another space
    2) pedestrian bridge over Juanita Drive and the creek at 132nd, as Warren Raven suggested.
    I know both of these are long shots, but they would add so much to our neighborhood!

  16. Stephanie Develle says:

    Eradication of ivy and other invasive plants, and planting natives.