Kirkland community builds a new gathering place | Editor's Note
By CARRIE RODRIGUEZ
Kirkland Reporter Editor
September 21, 2011 · 12:46 PM
Many years ago, a farmer donated land for what would become 132nd Square Park.
Jan White, who has lived in the Kingsgate neighborhood for nearly 40 years, says the neighborhood decided what amenities they wanted at the park.
White wanted a walking track where kids could cycle and pedestrians could stroll.
Now, every morning, White walks the path at the park with two other women who join her on a five-mile circuit.
Other amenities at the park include athletic fields, a new playground, restrooms and a reflexology walking path where park goers can take their shoes off and walk over different-sized stones.
It was the first time neighbors came together to determine what they wanted in their neighborhood park – but certainly not the last.
King County took out a rotted wooden play structure from the park in 2006. And instead of waiting for the county to build a new structure, the community spoke up and pushed for the structure they chose.
Last spring, Lynda Haneman, a member of the Evergreen Hill Neighborhood Association (formerly Totem Lake), and others canvassed the neighborhood for residents’ thoughts on a new amenity. The result was a set of new swings that were installed.
But White, and other neighbors, including Lesley Schlesinger, have watched as mothers nearly jostle each other to try and get a picnic table for their child’s birthday party.
So when neighbors found out that Tully’s Coffee/Green Mountain Roasters and the Pomegranate Center had put out a request for grant proposals for a neighborhood gathering place, they threw their hat in the ring. Kirkland’s 132nd Square Park was one of four sites chosen throughout the region to become a new gathering place.
The Issaquah-based Pomegranate Center gathered community input on the new place’s design.
“It really was designed by the community and voted on by the community,” said Haneman on Sept. 16, as dozens of volunteers worked to build a new picnic shelter, story circle, performance area and a community banner.
It was amazing to watch the volunteers work so hard – for four days – and finally complete the project on Sunday.
Haneman says six years ago, 132nd Square Park “was just a park.” Now, she said it’s become more of the center of the community.
King County Vice Chair Jane Hague, who was at the park Sunday, said “Our parks are our community gathering places.”
I agree. We have opined on the importance of parks in our Kirkland community before. It’s definitely a subject that deserves more than one mention.
In this case, it was good to see how the diligence of one neighborhood has paid off again and again. Community participation was the most important component of this project from concept, design and review to the actual build of the project.
Kudos to the Kingsgate community for their involvement in this community park.
If you would like to get involved in your local parks, the best place to begin is with your neighborhood association. I encourage you to attend some meetings, get to know your neighborhood leaders and sound off on what amenities are important to you at your local park.
Contact Kirkland Reporter Editor Carrie Rodriguez at email@example.com or 1-425-822-9166 (ext 5050).