Maple Valley pushes forward with park site plans

The city of Maple Valley is going forward with creating site plans for two underused pieces of city property that could become parks in the future.

The city of Maple Valley is going forward with creating site plans for two underused pieces of city property that could become parks in the future.

The two properties in question are Henry’s Switch and several parcels adjacent to one another that the city had purchased at the intersection of 216th Avenue and 276th Street that parks and recreation director Greg Brown said has “no real name.”

“Both of these sites were purchased by the city over a decade ago and (the city) never got around to what the use should be,” Brown said.

Earlier this year the city completed an update to its Parks, Recreation, Cultural, and Human Services plan that was adopted by the city council in late February. The plan is a six-year, comprehensive plan that, “guides the City’s efforts and establishes a path forward for providing high quality, community-driven parks, trails and recreation programming,” according to the city website.

The plan document stated that it, “inventories and evaluates existing park and recreation areas, assesses the needs for acquisition, site development and operation and offers specific policies and recommendations to achieve the community’s goals.”

To date, the city has nine parks, special facilities and natural areas that total about 320 acres.

The Henry’s Switch site is approximately 15.5 undeveloped acres, while the 216th Avenue/276th Street site is just more than five undeveloped acres.

Brown summarized the plan recommendations in relation to the two properties by saying, “It said that the city should develop site plans for both of these properties.”

After the plan update was approved in February, Brown went back to the City Council and sought the council members’ direction on what to do next.

That decision was to get feedback from the community on what they would like to see done with the properties.

“The park plan is meant to be this guiding document that is fairly vague and then we are supposed to fill in the details with other processes,” Brown explained.

To that end, the city held an open house at Lake Wilderness Lodge on June 25 to present some ideas and see what the community thought.

City staff is currently compiling feedback from that meeting and will be present the results to the city parks commission July 23. The commissioners will make a recommendation about what steps to take next.

“Do we hold another open house, do we put a survey out to residents, do we contact groups that came to the open house or that we know of that have specific interests in the properties to make presentations to the commission?” Brown asked. “I don’t know what those next steps will be.”

Brown added that a “typical” master plan can take between six months and a year to complete, but he hopes that due to the minor scope of the projects that a recommendation could be made to the city council sometime this fall.

“These are relatively small properties,” Brown said. “It’s really going to be more low-level use…we’re not envisioning this will become a community center or active sports fields.”

Brown did say that the possibilities include a dog park or creating other, small community parks. He also added that the city does not have a budget for construction at the parks.

“It’s not proposed at this stage to do any building,” Brown said.

He also explained that donations and community work parties could do things like add gravel parking, fences and signage to the properties.

“It doesn’t require millions of dollars,” Brown said.