As a community, we need to ask ourselves what we want for our future
For Kirkland, the past decade has been one of many ups and downs. We have watched our services levels decline as our taxes continue to rise. Some would say that Kirkland missed much of the last economic wave as we fought amongst ourselves with lawsuits and building moratoriums. Conflicts over development issues have caused many to wonder what the future holds for Kirkland in the next decade. Are we against all development or just opposed to certain developments? Should we prepare now to take advantage of the next economic wave or should we leave that others in the region.
The conflicts over development are fresh in our memories, and they express a schism in town over how Kirkland should move forward.
Is Kirkland a little city with a big appetite for growth, or are we just a bedroom community? Do we look to the future with a sense of hope and opportunity, or do we fear change and the unknown? Are we content playing second fiddle to Bellevue or do we want to challenge them on regional issues... or does anyone outside of City Hall even care?
We have many challenges ahead. Big changes are coming just a few months from now when the population of the City of Kirkland will grow to over 80,000. Providing services to the 33,000 people Kirkland will annex on June 1 will be no small feat. City Hall's attention will rightly be focused on expanding services. What impact will the influx of new Kirkland voters have on our city council?
It will likely wont be until the end of the decade until we see completion of the Kirkland Parkplace redevelopment. The start of that almost mythical redevelopment project called Totem Lake Mall may be even further in the future.
What do you want Kirkland to be like in the next decade? The policy choices we make today will shape our city of tomorrow.
Before we can make decisions about tomorrow, we need to assess where we stand today. Over the past four months, Kirkland Views have been gathering statements from Kirkland citizens, asking them to describe their city. Below are 44 descriptions of Kirkland today as submitted by local residents. How many of the following descriptions about Kirkland have you heard before? How many do you agree with?
- Kirkland was founded by wealthy British landowners
- Kirkland's story is that of the blue collar working man
- Kirkland's traditional bungalows are being replaced by "mega mansions"
- Kirkland is "progressive"
- Kirkland is green
- Kirkland's Moss Bay Days were a time of celebration and civic pride
- Moss Bay Days were better referred to as Moss Bay Daze
- Kirkland needs to be more family friendly
- Kirkland is a hamlet
- Kirkland was to be "the Pittsburgh of the West"
- Kirkland is a bedroom community
- Kirkland is becoming a "Bellevue"
- Kirkland is "the Sausalito of the Northwest"
- Kirkland is a downtown on the lake
- Kirkland is a developer's nightmare
- Kirkland is all about process
- Kirkland is strengthened by its strong neighborhoods
- Kirkland is Balkanized by it's neighborhoods
- Kirkland is neighborhoods
- Neighborhoods provide a counter balance to development interests
- Neighborhoods have too much power
- Totem Lake is Kirkland's economic engine
- Totem Lake is a sleeping giant
- Totem Lake is an underachiever
- The first three words out of City Hall are NO, NO and NO
- Downtown is Kirkland's living room
- Downtown is quaint
- Downtown needs to grow and promote economic activity to thrive
- Downtown development needs to maintain the "bowl" shape by limiting building heights
- Downtown needs more population density
- Downtown needs more parking
- Downtown needs to be a pedestrian-only car-free zone
- Annexation will bring more new blood, new ideas and new opportunity
- Annexation will give Kirkland more clout regionally
- Annexation will cost too much
- Kirkland historically has grown through annexation
- Kirkland cherry-picked its annexation areas in the past
- Kirkland parks are our "crown jewels"
- Kirkland parks maintenance should be farmed out to private contractors
- Kirkland is about art, culture and galleries
- Kirkland needs more tourism
- Kirkland is broke
- Kirkland has a Napoleon complex
- Kirkland is my home
If nothing else, these descriptions tell us that Kirkland is a vibrant community. The mix of answers is quite varied and includes both harsh criticisms and inspiring perspectives of our city.
The future is ours to shape. It is our responsibility to leave Kirkland a better place than when we found it. By addressing these issues, we hope to encourage the dialog about Kirkland's future.
[box]There are many histories of Kirkland, each one different; some based upon historical records, others based upon memories of days long gone bye. One recommended source of information about Kirkland's past is the Kirkland Historical Society (KHS). Matt McCauley shares his research from the archives of the Kirkland Historical Society in the series, A Look To The Past: Kirkland, found on these pages. It is a series of stories about the people who founded our region and well worth reading.[/box]