Park Lane advisory group to discuss trees, community engagement at Kirkland Library

Kirkland's consulting arborist Scott Baker, left, prepares on May 6 a Park Lane tree for a stress test. The stress test's results are one of the metrics the design team is using to determine the viability of Park Lane's trees.
— image credit: Contributed photo/City of Kirkland

The Park Lane Advisory Group will discuss the most recent developments in the continuing redesign of Park Lane at 10 a.m., on May 21 in the Kirkland Library.

Kirkland residents and business owners are encouraged to attend as well.

One of the topics the advisory group will be discussing is how to create a series of community-engagement events out of the four-month construction process that begins January 2015.

Field trips are one way, say project staff.

"We're going to be installing some interesting green technology along Park Lane," Kirkland's Park Lane project engineer Frank Reinart said. "One example is the bioretention technology that allows tree roots to grow deeper into the ground, rather than directly beneath the surface of the street and sidewalk. This technology will be visible for a very brief time, which offers a brief opportunity for the public to learn how we can more seamlessly incorporate natural infrastructure into our built environment."

Another idea is to use the construction fence as a community canvas of art, created by Kirkland residents.

"These are ways to engage residents in the construction process," Reinart said. "We are sure there are other ideas out there. And that's what we will be discussing Wednesday."

The advisory group will also be learning about the safety of some of Park Lane's older street trees. Some of those trees are nearing the end of their lives.

"These trees would live for only another five, 10 years max," said Eric Schmidt, the Park Lane design team's principal landscape architect. "To save this green canopy and park-like atmosphere for now and the next generation, we need to improve the conditions of the healthy trees and replace the ailing ones.

Of course, several of them-about a dozen of them-have already reached the end of their lifespans. The city of Kirkland replaced most of those trees already. A few summers ago, however, the tree in front of Cactus fell.

"There wasn't even a breeze and during Summerfest, a giant limb fell down," said Bonnie McLeod, owner of McLeod Insurance, which operates on Park Lane a few paces west of where the tree fell. "It happened at night. People are saying, 'Why are we taking down these trees.' Well, it's because of the danger."

Landscape architect Schmidt will present the design's solution for the ailing street trees at the May 21 advisory group meeting.

The May 21 meeting is the second of a half-dozen advisory group meetings the city of Kirkland has planned throughout the design process of Park Lane.

The city is redesigning the vital pedestrian corridor into a plaza-style street, with drivers, walkers and cyclists all traveling on the same level. Rather than using a curb and sidewalk to separate walkers from drivers, the design will rely on landscaping, bollards and surface textures.

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