Kirkland council contemplates progress on 132d Park project

The project has been under discussion since 2015.

At its Oct. 1 meeting, the Kirkland City Council was updated on the 132nd Square Park master plan, which seeks to upgrade the ball fields, playgrounds and trail system characterizing the property.

Council voted on how it would like to progress with the plan at its Oct. 15 meeting, after the Reporter’s print deadline.

The decision follows a period that began in March, during which the city received feedback from businesses, stakeholders and residents around the city.


The park, which stretches about 9.76 acres and is used by the community at large as a multi-purpose resource, was identified by the parks and community services capital improvement program (CIP) for a playfield renovation project (PK-0134) in 2015. The project was then recommended to move forward by the Kirkland park board and was found to be in line with the goals outlined in the 2015 parks, recreation and open space (PROS) plan.

The PROS plan is a six-year guide designed to improve parks and recreation services in and around Kirkland.

In November 2015, it was decided by the park board that the 132nd Square Park playfield project should be combined with a stormwater retrofit project, which would provide water quality treatment as well as infiltration and flow control. This particular project would affect about 50 acres of the upstream area.

City officials had already been seeking to serve the Totem Lake basin through a retrofit project and found that 132nd Square Park made for an ideal installation location. It would require, though, a temporary excavation of the fields, with reconstruction happening after retrofit implementation.

To fund this, the city’s public works department applied for and then was provided with a contingent grant award of about $2.5 million by the State Department of Ecology (DOE). But due to fund reduction and a general decline of revenues in the state, the projects had to be put on hold in part due to the legislature’s inability to finance it.

Funding was restored in January 2018. In April 2018, at a parks and human services committee meeting, staff analyzed the cost of synthetic turf versus natural grass sports field. They also continued to look at why combining the two projects would be beneficial. It was determined that, by entwining the two projects, the process of permitting, administration and construction would be more efficient and would provide an opportunity to replace the natural grass with turf.

“Land is very difficult to come by and develop new spaces,” Mary Gardocki, parks planning and development manager, said. “We have the opportunity through capacity on a field space to increase level of service.”

On June 19, 2018, council was informed of the benefits of combining the projects. The discussion resulted in a proposal for artificial turf at the park, which would become part of the 2019-20 CIP program. It was formally adopted in December 2018, with the master plan process moving forward from there.


During the community engagement process throughout this year, it was frequently heard that the use of a turf field would have the potential to exclude or thwart the “unprogrammed play” that drives a lot of visitations to the park. It was also regularly brought up that the renovation would impact the use of the park by lower-income families in the area, with an emphasis on residents of the Kirkland Heights Apartments, which are located near the park.

In response, city staff said unprogrammed play would still be available regardless of whether fields of use at the park were made of turf or natural grass and that it will be reaching out to residents of the Kirkland Heights Apartments to get a better sense of what their needs are. Council will be informed of the feedback once it’s finalized.

Moving forward

Four options were considered at the Oct. 15 meeting; councilmembers will vote on one option.

In the first, council would approve the master plan with edits recommended by the park board. The park board, in total, has recommended about five edits. During phase 1 of the project, there would be added construction of a casual sledding hill in order to continue the trend of community sledding during the winter months. Additionally, there would have to be an inclusion of the park board in the design process and overarching program operation. It would also be required that there be an annual review of further phases and new-found priorities. In addition to a subcommittee of park board members being brought together before construction phase 5, council would need to thoroughly examine the benefits of both synthetic turf and grass options for the playfield down the line.

The second option would entail the adoption of the plan without any edits, which is currently recommended by city staff. The third involves passage with edits from the council. At the Oct. 1 meeting, there was a proposed amendment to include in the plan language specifying unstructured and unprogrammed community use regulation; it failed in a 2-4 vote as many councilmembers felt the topic should be addressed on a city-wide rather than park-specific level.

The fourth option would give council the ability to ultimately reject the master plan and rethink how to progress.

After councilmembers further discussed the importance of unprogrammed community use, which has been one of the biggest concerns voiced by residents, Sweet concluded the conversation by noting that, regardless of what decision is made at the Oct. 15 meeting, she’s looking forward to the finished product.

“I do believe this is going to be a beautiful park when it’s done,” she said.

For more information about the project, go to the council meeting agenda item online.