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Public to gather at Doris Cooper Houghton Beach Park to celebrate its new namesake
The Kirkland City Council renamed Houghton Beach Park to “Doris Cooper Houghton Beach Park” at its April 17 meeting. And on July 21, many of Doris Cooper’s friends, family members and the general public will gather at the park to mark the occasion.
The ceremony begins at 10 a.m. at Doris Cooper Houghton Beach Park, 5811 Lake Washington Boulevard N.E.
“I can’t think of a lady who deserves it more,” said City Councilwoman Penny Sweet at the April 17 meeting. “I would have changed the name of Lake Washington Boulevard to Doris Cooper Boulevard.”
Seven decades ago, Houghton Beach Park wasn’t a park at all. It was an oil tank farm. Pipes and oil consumed the shoreline. It was an industrial place. It had been since World War II. But in the late 1960s that began to change. Three women organized a telegram campaign to Rep. Tom Pelly, R-Wash., for a federal grant that would help transform the abandoned tank farm into one of the city’s most visited places.
One of those women was Doris Cooper. Cooper followed that telegram campaign with efforts to acquire and build a park at Houghton Beach, to acquire the Yarrow Bay wetlands, to coordinate the Moss Bay Celebration, to serve as a member of the Houghton Community Council, the City Council and as Kirkland’s first female mayor.
“I think one day a statue of Doris Cooper will … be in the city,” said Councilman Dave Asher at the April 17 meeting. “And possibly at this park. She has contributed so much for so long and to so many people.”
Cooper passed away April 29, 2011. And yet, her work at Houghton Beach and throughout Kirkland has inspired one last change to the park she helped champion. On April 17, the council voted unanimously to rename the park to Doris Cooper Houghton Beach Park.
As a result of that decision, the city is replacing the existing park sign with a new one that reads “Doris Cooper Houghton Beach Park.” It is also installing an interpretive sign that describes Cooper’s contributions to the park.
“She was a friend and a mentor and I’m so happy about this,” said Deputy Mayor Doreen Marchione.