The Kirkland City Council voted unanimously at its March 20 meeting to name the pavilion at Marina Park in honor of Allen Locke, recognizing the role of Kirkland’s first city manager in shaping the city’s waterfront.
“Al visualized Lake Washington as Kirkland’s front door, he visualized parks, activity centers with play areas and a pavilion,” former Mayor Bill Woods wrote in a letter to the Kirkland Park Board. “This is only a small part of what Al did for the city during his 20 years for service.”
Councilmember Tom Neir said that Locke, who served as city manager from 1965 to 1985, was a “founding father of our modern Kirkland.” Locke helped create Marina Park and expanded parks throughout the city, from less than 30 acres in 1968 to over 70 acres in 1980, including 12 acres of waterfront parks. He passed away in 2014 at age 82.
Woods, former Mayor Bob Neir and former Kirkland Fire Chief Bob Ely presented the request to name either Marina Park or the pavilion to the Kirkland Park Board last June.
Woods wrote that when Locke started working in Kirkland, “our waterfront was a mess, much of it looked like a garbage dump.” The site where Marina Park lies today was a dumping ground for raw sewage — not fit for swimming or boating at the time, according to a city press release.
“Locke looked beyond the industrial wasteland and saw potential,” the press release read. “He crafted Kirkland’s first master plan for parks, setting the stage for the city to receive a $328,000 federal grant which funded the development of Kirkland’s iconic downtown waterfront park in 1970.”
In October, the park board asked staff to survey community members on what they thought about the idea, and to research the cost of naming or renaming a park or park facility. The response was mixed, and in February, the board voted 5-3 against the name change. It later voted 7-1 to install educational signage about Locke at Marina Park.
Councilmember Penny Sweet said she was “disappointed in the lack of historical connection that came back in the comments” and that Locke was a “treasure” in the community. Councilmember Jon Pascal said he respected the hard work of the park board to collect community input, but his decision was influenced by his research on Locke and his legacy.
“If any resident took the time to learn the history here, I don’t see how they could reach any other conclusion,” he said.
Councilmembers Neir and Toby Nixon suggested that the city merge the two proposals, both naming the pavilion and facilitating an educational effort or the placement of commemorative signs, which the council then approved.
Councilmember Jay Arnold said he was “proud and pleased” that the “very thing that is on the city’s logo will be named after Al Locke.”
Mayor Amy Walen echoed that she was “very happy to honor Mr. Locke,” noting that the “city manager in our form of government does all of the work.”
See www.kirkland.gov for more.