75% want facility; City Council to seek ballot measure
In response to overwhelming public support for a proposed Aquatics/Recreation/Community (ARC) Center, the Kirkland City Council authorized staff to develop a ballot measure to present to Kirkland voters in 2015 or 2016. Additionally, the City Council decided to eliminate the north side of Juanita Beach Park as a potential site based upon concerns over traffic impacts and the loss of open space. The Council maintained the North Kirkland Community Center site as an option and directed staff to further explore privately-owned sites in the Totem Lake area. At its March 17, 2015 Study Session, (video link) the City Council was presented with research of privately-owned properties and results from three public opinion surveys: online, telephone and mobile device text. Each survey reflected support for the proposed ARC Center with varying support regarding location and cost. Survey results are contained in the staff memo to the City Council (PDF). The City Council expressed interest in exploring a ballot measure that would propose the creation of a Metropolitan Park District (MPD) to finance the ARC Center and to have it on the ballot as early as November 2015. An MPD may be created for the management, control, improvement, maintenance, and acquisition of parks, parkways, boulevards, and recreational facilities. Further, the Council re-affirmed its interest for the City seek community partners for the ARC.
Mayor Amy Walen acknowledged the investment into the project and community awareness about the proposed facility and expressed support for the MPD ballot measure sooner rather than later. “It’s time to call the question of our community,” she stated. “The Metropolitan Park District gives us the opportunity to ask the question and to have flexibility in siting the facility.” she stated.
An MPD is allowed by State law, requires at 50% voter approval, and allows for the collection of property taxes to fund parks and recreation, including maintenance and operations. A city or county may initiate the formation of a district by adopting a resolution submitting its proposal district boundaries.
Analysis was conducted on properties located near Totem Lake Mall at Totem Lake Way and 120th Avenue NE and another close to the City’s Kirkland Justice Center (Christ Church of Kirkland property) as there was interest of the property owners. The Kingsgate Park and Ride, owned and operated by the Washington State Department of Transportation, and a building in the PAR MAC business center were not studied further as there was no interest by the property owners.
In reference to the Totem Lake site, Council Member Toby Nixon expressed that “it has the potential to be a great catalyst for development in the Totem Lake area. If you think about the potential to build that facility and build out some or all of the Totem Lake Park Master Plan at the same time, it becomes a real draw for redevelopment of that area. It would be a desirable place for people to live and businesses to locate.”
The Council’s direction implements most the recommendations of the City’s Park Board. The City Council will consider a resolution at one of its April meetings that will formally remove Juanita Beach Park and define next steps.
For background information and to receive updates via email, go to www.kirklandwa.gov/kirklandarc.