Kirkland City Council reviews Totem Lake Park design

Due to budget constraints, the city will explore alternative locations for the planned sprayground.

A new park in Kirkland is moving forward, most likely without one of its major planned elements, after another review by the city last month.

The Kirkland City Council discussed the first phase of the plan for Totem Lake Park, which is located in the heart of the Totem Lake Urban Center, on Sept. 4. Feedback on the 30 percent design earlier this year prompted the project team to include a sprayground (an interactive water features geared toward children of all ages), along with a playground, boardwalk, asphalt path and restroom building, in the plans. Other planned improvements are lawn areas, seating, picnicking amenities, parking and street lighting.

The park is expected to be a destination for residents, shoppers and employees at the Totem Lake Mall and users of the Cross Kirkland Corridor (CKC). The council adopted a master plan for the park in 2013, purchased a few acres of property for park development in 2016 and 2017 and is expecting to acquire the 17-acre lake property from the King Conservation District this year.

Given the accelerated pace of private development in the Totem Lake area, particularly multi-family residential development, the council gave staff direction to expedite the plan by first developing the upland parcel, or former Yuppie Pawn site, and the east boardwalk connecting the park’s north trail system to the CKC.

With the most recent construction estimate significantly exceeding the budgeted amount, the council decided to nix the sprayground in the 60 percent design, along with some other optional features such as Wi-Fi and artistic railings for the boardwalk.

The Rotary Club of Kirkland Downtown had expressed interest in helping to fund a sprayground for Kirkland’s park system and was planning to fundraise $350,000 for the project. Some council members were attached to the concept for Totem Lake Park, though city manager Kurt Triplett said other locations could be explored given the space and budget constraints of the project. He also said that an expanded playground could be installed at Totem Lake Park as an alternative to the sprayground.

Initial cost estimates indicated that the sprayground would cost approximately $1.5 million, and the total budget is about $7.9 million.

As with other large-scale park master plans, implementation typically occurs in several phases over a long period of time, according to the council’s agenda bill. Phasing and prioritizing decisions are considered by the council as part of the budget and capital improvement plan (CIP) processes.

The project team — led by the landscape architectural firm The Berger Partnership — began working on the design in 2017 and reached the 30 percent design milestone in March 2018.

The 60 percent design was presented at Le Tour de Totem Lake event on July 28 for further input from the community. Themes included positive feedback on the play structure and sprayground and interest in incorporating educational components about wetlands and their role in the environment.

Part of the 60 percent design included public art pieces by Canadian artist Jill Anholt. The art committee selected the concept enwww.kirklandreporter.comd “Trace,” which features a series of brightly colored vertical markers located along the new boardwalk. When viewed from a certain sightline, they take the shape of recognizable birds and animals found in the wetland, “piquing the public’s curiosity to explore the area more closely,” according to the design description.

“The appearance of these outlines, like the animals themselves, are fleeting and transitory, requiring careful observation and a particular point of view in order to see them,” it continues. “Trace encourages visitors to pause and look deeper into the landscape, enhancing their understanding and curiosity for Totem Lake Park’s ecology.”

The park is now moving toward 90 percent design, with final design and permitting scheduled to be completed this month with an anticipated bid opening in February 2019 and a construction start of spring 2019. The park opening would occur in the spring or summer of 2020.

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