We’re just hours away from the Sammamish City Council update by City Staff and the County staff over the pending development of Section 2A (7-11 area to the Issaquah City Limits) of the East Lake Sammamish Trail.
In my own comments planned for tonight during Public Comment, I will be giving an abbreviated version of what’s below (as much as I can in 3-5 minutes):
- I walked Section 2A last week with Council Members Tom Odell and Bob Keller; and with King County Parks official Kevin Brown and Odell; and I met with Sammamish assistant City manager Laura Philpot. These meetings and field trips were very useful to gain an understanding going into tonight’s City Council meeting about just where things stood. Fundamentally, I expect the testimony of Philpot and Brown to summarize the discussions I had with them. Comments at tonight’s meeting by Odell and Keller will likely include some of their observations from the field trips. Having said this, I still have concerns.
- Trail width: I still believe the County is too inflexible about the width. I give Brown points for adjusting the alignment slightly here and there to save trees and avoid wetland impacts, but the County remains fundamentally committed to the 18 ft. wide design. This demonstrates inflexibility for the tightly constrained Section 2B. Other sections of the ELST (as I’ve noted, and as also noted elsewhere by SHO) demonstrates the County can alter the width. The only conclusion one comes away with is that it doesn’t want to on ELST.
- Width is not about paving, it’s about shoulders: I must emphasize that when I, or others, talk about the trail’s width, we’re talking about being flexible on those six feet of shoulders, not the paved portion (except in 2B, where in some areas there are physical constraints on the width of even the paved trail).
- Width is a design preference: The County says it doesn’t want a trail design that goes in-and-out and meanders all over, and there are good reasons for this. On the other hand, there are good reasons for flexibility on the design.
- This is about not just the property owners: While the adjacent property owners get all the headlines and make all the noise, my concern is the environment–I don’t live on the trail and don’t have a dog in the fight over legal issues, encroachments and the like. Rather, I’m concerned that not all that can be done is being done to protect environmental issues. Why isn’t there pervious surface for the trail? In Section 2A there are spaces where wetlands can be created to enhance stormwater treatment from runoff not only from the trail but also from East Lake Sammamish Parkway. Reducing the size of those gravel shoulders helps reduce impervious surface area. Lake Sammamish is what’s known as a 303(d) lake (highly sensitive). We need to do our utmost to protect this lake.
- It’s about ambiance and even the health of trail users: Trail users like shade and the trees make for a more attractive trail. The County seems to have come around on this one.
- Give County benefit of the doubt: Well, not really. At the Feb. 17 Council meeting, Deputy Mayor Kathy Huckabay suggested giving the County the benefit of the doubt that Section 2A will proceed better than Section 1.
- This is a privilege, not a right.
- County forfeited this on Section 1 through its heavy-handed approach, missteps, and overkill (literally in this case) on tree removal. Close City monitoring is now required. The County has to earn the privilege back to have the benefit of the doubt.
- City forfeited this on Section 1, too. The City’s muffed, benign neglect response and oversight on Section 1 means that our citizens giving the City the benefit of the doubt is–doubtful. The City has to earn the privilege back to have the benefit of the doubt and citizen trust. Forceful oversight on Section 2A is going to be the test.
- Section 2A gives each the opportunity to earn some of this back
- To whom should the benefit of the doubt go? Forget giving the benefit of the doubt to the County. It’s time to give benefit of the doubt to the people, our citizens, the Council’s constituents and the Council’s voters.
- Give the environment the benefit of the doubt.