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Kingsgate petition seeks to keep Kirkland neighborhood’s name as is
At least 100 Kirkland residents have signed a petition to make sure the Kingsgate name remains.
Michelle Burdue, organizer of the petition, said the name “Kingsgate” has been around for 50 years. Business owners have registered with the Department of Revenue using “Kingsgate” in the business name, she said.
“There’s a lot of people who signed the petition who aren’t happy that another group of people can change the name so easily,” Burdue said, who’s lived in the Kingsgate area, not the Kingsgate subdivisions, for 30 years. “It’s documented on all the maps online or printed, we just have good history. Plus, all the businesses that include the Kingsgate name, we don’t want to offend them, we want to keep them.”
Charlie Wilson, the owner of Kingsgate Carwash, said he feels like the Kingsgate voices aren’t being heard.
“It’s been Kingsgate for 1,000 years,” he joked, adding that he has two Kirkland businesses that have the Kingsgate name. “Changing the name isn’t going to change the demographic.”
While the city of Kirkland never officially changed the Kingsgate neighborhood name, what has changed is the implementation of a Kingsgate area neighborhood association called the Evergreen Hill Neighborhood Association. The association began after the city of Kirkland annexed the area in June 2011.
The Evergreen Hill Neighborhood Association works for the community in the Kingsgate neighborhood, which covers everything east of 116th Way Northeast and north of Northeast 132nd Street and Northeast 128th Place in the city boundary.
But at a recent neighborhood planning meeting for the annexed areas on Feb. 19, city staff asked the dozen or so attendees what the Kingsgate neighborhood should be called.
Kirkland City Councilman Toby Nixon, a Kingsgate resident himself, said the topic sparked a discussion and he encouraged Burdue to start an online petition as a way for people to express their feelings on the topic.
City of Kirkland Planning Director Eric Shields said the neighborhood’s name hasn’t officially changed but explained there may have been some confusion because some recent city documents have called the neighborhood Evergreen Hill.
“Now we’ll be extra careful,” he said in response to learning of the petition.
But the question remains on what residents’ want.
At a Feb. 21 Council retreat, Council members and city staff spoke about possibly including the question in a second citizen survey that addressed the community’s thoughts on the planning and permitting process, Nixon said, adding that more details would come after the next neighborhood planning meeting, set to take place in a couple of months.
The final decision on the name change will likely be part of the comprehensive plan update in early to mid 2015 and will be made by the Kirkland City Council. The update will include opportunities for the public to weigh in.
“The key thing we want to get across is the interim decision has not been made and the city is asking what they want it to be,” Nixon said. “We want to get as much input from people as we can.”
Fifty years ago, when the Kingsgate area was in unincorporated King County, the Kingsgate developments were built in various subdivisions. Other neighborhoods such as Firloch, High Woodlands and Upland Green were also built in the area.
The 2011 annexation added several new neighborhoods, such as Kingsgate, Finn Hill and North Juanita, to the city of Kirkland.
The Finn Hill Neighborhood Alliance became the neighborhood association for Finn Hill and North Juanita was absorbed under the Juanita Neighborhood Association.
Several years before annexation, the Totem Lake Neighborhood Association was expanded to include Kingsgate, as many of the members lived in the Kingsgate area, Nixon said.
Once Kingsgate was annexed, the members of the Totem Lake Neighborhood Association were given the opportunity to form a Kingsgate area neighborhood association.
“Only a fourth of homes [are] in that homeowners association that has Kingsgate,” Nixon said, who was on the board of the Evergreen Hill Neighborhood Association for five years before he joined the Council. “The majority of people on the board don’t live in the [Kingsgate subdivision].”
Also, some members were concerned that naming their association “Kingsgate” would confuse people with the many Kingsgate homeowners associations.
So, a search for a new neighborhood association name transpired.
The board researched Kingsgate’s history for months, even consulting with the Kirkland Heritage Society to learn the name of the original settlers.
“None of the names rolled of the tongue and appealed to the people,” Nixon said. “There was an area known as Tinkham Hill, there was Lake Wittenmeyer [now known as Totem Lake], nobody wanted that.”
The board eventually voted that the associations name would be Evergreen Hill because when they described to people where their neighborhood was, they would often say they were located on the hill behind EvergreenHealth Medical Center, if “Kingsgate” wasn’t recognized.
“Things get decided by who shows up and a simple majority vote,” Nixon said.
Lynda Haneman, the current vice chair of the Evergreen Hill Neighborhood Association, said the association attempted as much public outreach as they could at the time.
“It’s easy for people to complain, not so easy for people to participate,” she said, adding that the association was responsible for putting benches around the Kingsgate and putting a playground at the 132nd Square Park with city funding. “We wanted to have a name that holds where we are within the city of Kirkland. We wanted to have something that was a more neutral name for the neighborhood association, one that was more inclusive.”
Evergreen Hill Neighborhood Association Chair Johanna Palmer could not be reached for comment.
Haneman is a realtor for Coldwell Banker Bain who lives in the Firloch neighborhood in Kingsgate. She said that many people don’t realize there’s about 352 homes that belong to Firloch because many signs were taken down long ago.
“How do you pick one name that everybody identifies with other than Kingsgate?” she asked. “I look at this as a teaching moment. If people have that much interest in the [neighborhood] identity, that gives us an opportunity to reach out to them.”
Haneman said the neighborhood association is sensitive to the actual name of the neighborhood.
“People think we as a neighborhood association are trying to change the name of the neighborhood and we’re not,” Haneman said, adding that the association doesn’t want to be divisive and looks forward to talking to the community about this.
Being an actual Kingsgate neighborhood resident, Nixon admits he was for putting “Kingsgate” in the association’s name because of its 50-year history.
“In our area, things that have been around 50 years are old,” he said, adding that its quite different from European communities that date back to the 1600s. “It’s been a great neighborhood to rase kids in, a great neighborhood that cares about the community, it’s a walkable neighborhood and I’d be happy to keep the name. But I also respect the majority’s wishes.”
To sign the petition to keep the neighborhood’s name as Kingsgate, visit http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/kingsgate-wants-to-keep-the-name.
To get more information or join the Evergreen Hill Neighborhood Association, visit evergreenhillna.org.
Check www.kirklandreporter.com in the coming months for more information about the citizen survey or the next neighborhood planning meeting.