Mercer Island parks officials say they are heading into the last of three public workshops tonight with a fairly clear idea of how residents want one of the city's largest parks...
Mercer Island parks officials say they are heading into the last of three public workshops tonight with a fairly clear idea of how residents want one of the city’s largest parks — now home to tree frogs and birds, with trails, a swimming beach and a fishing pier — to look and feel in the future.
Luther Burbank Park’s nearly 1-mile-long Lake Washington shoreline would be protected from further erosion. Boaters could launch canoes and kayaks from its dock. Seasonal concessionaires might sell snacks or rent paddle boats.
The bottom line: Most of Luther Burbank’s 75-plus acres would remain as they are: undeveloped, in their woodsy, lush natural setting.
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“We see some merit in making some improvements in certain areas but not widespread, major change,” said city parks director Pete Mayer, describing the theme of draft design guidelines generated from dozens of residents who attended the first two workshops.
In the nearly two years since the city took the park over from King County, residents have shown support for local control by approving a temporary maintenance levy that raises $415,000 a year.
That levy will expire in 2009. City leaders want a plan in place long before then for how the city will continue to pay the park’s $400,000 annual maintenance bill and make whatever additional improvements or changes are decided on.
Luther Burbank could follow in the steps of other Puget Sound parks and add a marina, restaurant or other commercial development to bring in money. Or residents could choose to tax themselves again to pay for the park’s upkeep or opt for some combination.
For now, representatives from the parks department are meeting with residents, business owners, service clubs and others, Mayer said, to solicit ideas.
After tonight’s workshop, city leaders will review public input and decide which projects they may pursue and whether to create a master plan for the park. Mayer said the parks department likely will present the community-design guidelines to the City Council at a study session scheduled for Feb. 7.
Regardless of what the council decides, Mayer said, the design guidelines have given the department perspective on what residents want from their city parks.
Karen Gaudette: 206-515-5618 or firstname.lastname@example.org