Ask the City Council to fund vital Finn Hill park and traffic projects – Please act by Tuesday, July 21

Ask the City Council to fund vital Finn Hill park and traffic projects – Please act by Tuesday, July 21

Dear Finn Hill neighbors and friends:

Kirkland’s City Council will discuss the city’s preliminary 2015-2020 Capital Improvements Plan at a study session in City Hall on Tuesday evening, July 21. The Finn Hill Neighborhood Alliance board of directors has just sent comments on the plan to council members about two important Finn Hill projects that need funding:  expansion of Juanita Heights Park and completion of the Juanita Drive improvements recommended by the Juanita Drive Corridor Study.

We hope you’ll take a few minutes to the read the FHNA letter (click to view PDF) and present your own views to Kirkland council members before their study session on Tuesday. (Contact information appears below.)

Capital Improvements Plan

The draft Capital Improvements Plan lists all of the capital projects that the City would like to undertake between now and 2020. These cover parks, transportation, public safety, surface water management, and utility services. Not surprisingly, the list includes more projects than the City can fund from its own resources or even from identifiable external sources (such as state or federal grant programs). Thus many of the projects that appear in the plan are actually unfunded – and unless the City is committed to funding them, they won’t come to fruition.

The good news for Finn Hill is that the plan lists a number of valuable neighborhood initiatives as funded projects: “quick wins” for Juanita Drive safety enhancement, surface water management projects, crosswalk improvements, and trail connectivity projects.

The plan also lists land acquisition for the expansion of Juanita Heights Park at the southern end of Finn Hill (Goat Hill) and long term improvements for Juanita Drive as projects that the City should undertake. However, these two projects are unfunded. FHNA is urging the Council to classify them as funded projects.

Juanita Heights Park Expansion

Juanita Heights Park is a small 5 acre parcel of pristine woodlands sitting on the eastern side of Finn Hill, just north of Goat Hill.

The park is a hidden gem. It will become more accessible once the City opens an entry point on 124th and 89th Place. But its real potential lies in the fact that another 8-12 acres of beautiful woodlands lie to the immediate south of the park. If these can be preserved as open space, we can protect the eastern flank of Finn Hill from development and establish a hiking trail that connects the top of the hill, from the park down to Juanita Beach. Read the flyer (click to view PDF) that summarizes this opportunity.

FHNA has been talking to the owners of the woodlands that we’d like to preserve, and we’ve also spoken to the City and County about funding for parcel purchases. Several property owners are interested in selling their land for to be held a public open space, and we have a recommendation from County staff that money be granted for such acquisitions.

It’s great that the City supports this effort enough to list it in its Capital Improvements Plan. But moral support means nothing without some funding as well. In fact, the absence of a municipal funding commitment may be read by others (property owners or other funding sources) that the City is not committed to the project.

We need the City of Kirkland to set aside some funding for expanding Juanita Heights Park before the adjacent woodlands are cut down for new homes.

Juanita Drive Improvements

Many of you have commented to the City on how safety on Juanita Drive can be improved. Your comments were addressed in the Juanita Drive Corridor Study recommendations, which the Council adopted last year. Some of the recommendations outlined low-cost, easy-to-implement improvements: better lighting and crosswalks, for example. Those “quick wins” are funded in the Capital Improvements Plan. Unfortunately, other more costly enhancements – such as realigning intersections or creating separated bike lanes and pedestrian paths — remain unfunded.

FHNA’s letter asks the City to fund these important initiatives, so that Juanita Drive will be safer for drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians.

Contact City Council Members

FHNA’s letter to council members urges them to identify funding for the expansion of Juanita Heights Park and to fully fund improvements for Juanita Drive. If you agree, please tell your council members right away. You can email them at CityCouncil@kirklandwa.gov.

Thanks!

Scott Morris, President

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Post by FHNA President, Scott Morris

Scott Morris

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