UPDATE, March 20: The Kirkland City Council on Tuesday night ratified the purchase of 2.31 acres of woodlands in six parcels to be added to Juanita Heights Park on east Finn Hill. “This acquisition allows the city to improve the park, including a new entrance off of NE 124th Street and 89th Avenue,” said Jennifer Schroder, Parks and Community Services Department director. “Park visitors will have easier access to a neighborhood park.”
A 3.45-acre woodland park perched on the southeast slopes of Finn Hill would grow by 67 percent if the Kirkland City Council adopts a recommendation by the Parks Department to buy 2.31 acres adjacent to it for $660,000.
The president of the Finn Hill Neighborhood Alliance is urging members to support the addition to Juanita Heights Park, writing that east Finn Hill lacks protected open space and the park plus the adjacent land are in the midst of a threatened green belt.
Juanita Heights Park was transferred from King County ownership to the city of Kirkland when annexation of the Finn Hill area took effect on June 1 of 2011. An adjacent six parcel totalling 2.31 acres is currently owned by a couple who contacted the city in the interest of selling it to Kirkland. One of the parcels has a rental home on it, but the rest, along with the existing park, is a mix of second-growth Douglas fir, western red cedar, bigleaf maple and other native vegetation.
The purchase would be made with existing city acquisition funds, plus money from the Kirkland Parks Levy approved by voters last year - it would be the first acquisition of land from the levy.
The new lands would move the city toward its goal of having parks accessible within one-quarter mile to all residents, and would improve the access to Juanita Heights Park, currently reached at the end of the end of a cul de sac, 89th Place NE. The new parcel would provide an improved parking and access spot, near NE 124th Street and 89th Place NE. Part of it could also be developed as a neighborhood playground in the future.
Scott Morris, president of the Finn Hill Neighborhood Alliance, sent a note to group members urging their support, writing, “It’s vital to do everything we can to set aside properties on this side of the hill for recreational use.”
The city council will hear the Parks Department recommendation (see attached PDF file) at its meeting Tuesday night beginning at 7:30, at City Hall.
If approved, it would be the second woodland acquistion on Finn Hill this year. The council in February approved the purchase during a foreclosure sale of a nearby wooded ravine. For a Patch story on that, click here.