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City of Kirkland buys 6 acres of land, furthers FHNA’s preservation goals

Finn Hill Neighborhood Alliance board member Ellen Haas, Jon Pascal, and residents Melissa and Reuben Dokoozian stand at the top of the Inglemoor Highlands greenbelt. - Raechel Dawson/Kirkland Reporter
Finn Hill Neighborhood Alliance board member Ellen Haas, Jon Pascal, and residents Melissa and Reuben Dokoozian stand at the top of the Inglemoor Highlands greenbelt.
— image credit: Raechel Dawson/Kirkland Reporter

The Kirkland City Council approved the purchase of a 6 acre piece of land, deemed the Inglemoor Highlands greenbelt, in eastern Finn Hill today that will help preserve the neighborhood’s natural areas.

The acquisition can be credited to the Finn Hill Neighborhood Alliance (FHNA) when board members brought the forested ravine to the city’s attention last May.

“When the Denny Creek Neighborhood Alliance was looking to transition to become the neighborhood association for Finn Hill, one of the things we wanted to make sure was that we were looking out for all of the neighborhood,” said Jon Pascal, FHNA member who serves as vice chair on Kirkland’s Planning Commission. “(We’re) looking for opportunities primarily for open space preservation and public ownership and land … We took a tour with a bunch of board members (to look) at different areas of Finn Hill and we came across this area.”

Seven months later, city officials bought the land for $4,700 at a December 2012 auction, using funds from surface water management.

“The city saw this more as a surface water management opportunity to maintain this corridor because it is important to drain the water (and preserve) water quality,” Pascal said.

Jenny Gaus, a surface water engineer supervisor with the city, said there are several drainage pipes in the land, and public ownership will make it easier to maintain those.

The land, located at 88th Avenue and Northeast to 100th Avenue, was formerly owned by a Spokane woman, who had apparently stopped paying taxes three years ago.

Melissa Dokoozian, a homeowner whose house sits atop the ravine, said the woman once came to her home asking to look at the property with hopes to develop, but as soon as she saw it, it seems as though she changed her mind. Pascal speculates she stopped paying taxes because the land wouldn’t amass any real value due to its unique terrain.

The 6 acres house douglas firs, western hemlocks, red cedars and maple trees at the base of the ravine. The trees surround Juanita Creek and is home to dear, raccoons, coyotes, beavers and wild fox - among others.

“To have cedars, firs and hemlocks is actually somewhat distinctive of the Holmes Point area,” said former outdoor educator and FHNA member Ellen Haas. “It’s good diversity.”

Pascal said FHNA board members have prepared a preliminary list of high value areas, such as open space and park land, that they hope to work with the city on in the future as more park levy funds become available. Members hope to “help meet the city’s goal of providing an active park within a quarter mile distance to all residents,” according to the FHNA website.

“It’s a good example of being opportunistic and working with the city, really embracing the Finn Hill area and understanding what our wants and needs are,” said Pascal. “I think there’s opportunities to band together to maintain these areas the best we can.”

The property joins 16 acres of Kirkland-owned land, resulting in 22 acres of public open space in the city.

To help the FHNA preserve and restore Finn Hill natural areas, email board@finnhillalliance.org. For more information, visit finnhillalliance.org.

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