Recap of Friends of Big Finn Hill Park Trails 2017 annual meeting

Recap of Friends of Big Finn Hill Park Trails 2017 annual meeting

Bill Blanchard opened the well-attended meeting at 7:05 by welcoming attendees and guests. After a brief presentation outlining the origin, vision, accomplishments, and challenges of the Friends of Big Finn Hill Parks Trails group, Bill called the evening’s guests to the stage.

Kevin Brown, Director, King County Parks and Recreation Division
Michael Cogle, Deputy Director, Parks for the City of Kirkland
Jon Pascal, Kirkland City Council

Jon Pascal, Kevin Brown, Michael Cogle.

Jon Pascal, Kevin Brown, Michael Cogle.

 

Each of the guests introduced himself with a personal story of their interest in and commitment to green spaces. They also addressed some of the challenges facing parks in our area of Kirkland.

Kevin brought up the multiple large parks in the area, and the desire to make them more connected. He also identified as a challenge the lack of large, flat areas suitable for ball fields or community centers; most remaining green space is heavily sloped or otherwise unsuitable for such use.

Michael spoke of the goal for a park to be within a quarter mile/ten minute walk from every residence. On Finn Hill, some areas—particularly in the North and East—don’t meet that criteria. He agreed with Kevin’s assessment that most remaining vacant land is not the sort that could be easily converted into a pocket park.

Jon advocated the importance of preserving green space as a way of preserving the unique character of Finn Hill, while recognizing the challenge of putting those spaces to such use that they address the needs and desires of diverse groups within the neighborhood.

Jon then went on to talk about the city’s broad areas of focus when considering how to deal with serving the needs of a growing population, namely: Acquisition, Maintenance, and Enhancement. Acquisition being adding additional park space; Maintenance being keeping existing parks at their current level of quality; and Enhancement being developing ways to accommodate more users in existing spaces.

Kevin outlined the County’s vision of its role as a regional provider of parks and green spaces, and as examples listed Cougar Mountain, Marymoor Park, and the Burke Gilman trail. The County park organization has shifted away from programing and local parks; private organizations and local cities can better serve those needs.

Bill Blanchard closed the meeting with a Q&A session with questions from the audience. Some highlights from the answers:

Landslide: Multiple geoengineering studies have been conducted and the city, county, and developer are cooperating on mitigation, restoration, and prevention of further damage. Impacted trails have been reopened.

Decision process for placing new trails, and Juanita Drive crosswalk: Collaborative effort between governmental agencies, experts, and neighbors. Bill invited all who are concerned or who have opinions on such matters to attend the open meetings for Friends of Big Finn Hill Park and Trails. Maps of all proposed changes are posted online at http://kingcounty.gov/services/parks-recreation/parks/trails/backcountry-trails/big-finn.aspx.

City of Kirkland taking over management of Big Finn Hill Park from County: A possibility, but not in the near term. Jon pointed out that it took 15 years for Juanita Beach Park to transfer to the City. Any such takeover would require additional ongoing City resources, and additional ongoing City costs. Which means additional budget would be required, likely through a ballot measure. Currently, Big Finn Hill Park is paid for by a County-wide parks levy.

How to get involved: volunteer for work parties, come to monthly meetings, stand to serve on a committee. Michael Cogle pointed out the high value of the Friends of Big Finn Hill Park Trails, and how everyone in the neighborhood benefits from volunteerism. Not every park has a “Friends of” organization, and those parks that do, benefit greatly from them.

Kirkland Police Captain St. Jean was the final speaker of the evening, invited at the request of Friends of Big Finn Hill Park to address community concerns about policing within the park. The Captain confirmed that Kirkland PD does not actively patrol the park, as it is County jurisdiction. That said, Kirkland PD does respond to emergencies within the park as needed.

FBFHPT CommitteeBill closed the meeting with an expression of appreciation for all who attended, and invited the audience to vote in electing committee members for the Friends of Big Finn Hill Park and Trails organization. Janice Gerrish was elected At Large, and each of the other elected individuals represented a specific interest group:

Bob Gerrish – Dog Walkers
Bill Blanchard – Neighbors
Troy Kasper – Mountain Bikers
Jeanette Leach – Walkers

http://kingcounty.gov/services/parks-recreation/parks/trails/backcountry-trails/big-finn.aspx

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