The Metropolitan King County Council on Monday unanimously approved the controversial transfer of a 30-acre parcel within Soaring Eagle...

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The Metropolitan King County Council on Monday unanimously approved the controversial transfer of a 30-acre parcel within Soaring Eagle Park to the city of Sammamish. The city plans to use a portion of the parcel to build athletic fields.

The proposed transfer drew opposition from rural and community groups who said it threatens “high-value habitat,” disrupts a contiguous forest and sets a dangerous precedent because, for the first time, the county would be transferring land outside the urban-growth boundary to a city for its use.

The council also adopted legislation prohibiting the city from constructing new roads and sewer lines through the park and requiring the city to solicit input from user groups in developing the park’s master plan.

Jennifer Harrison-Cox, director of Partnership for Rural King County, a grass-roots conservation group, said she hopes the county will adopt legislation permanently protecting more than 500 remaining acres of open space in the park.

“This property was purchased as open space, and it’s being used as open space, and currently it’s not protected,” Harrison-Cox said. “And that’s very concerning.”

When the county originally purchased Soaring Eagle Park, it mapped out a master plan to use 80 acres for recreational use. As the county struggled with budget shortfalls, it looked to transfer park parcels to adjacent cities willing to take on the cost of developing them.

Soaring Eagle Park, at 25992 N.E. Eighth St. in Sammamish, sits alongside the county’s urban-growth boundary and serves as a buffer between a rural area and the forest-production district to the east. The area Sammamish plans to develop is at the south boundary of the park adjacent to the Trossachs Boulevard access road.

Amy Roe: 206-464-3347 or aroe@seattletimes.com