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Communty hopes Preston Parks are developed in a rural way

PRESTON _ New parks in Preston should encompass the

community's rural character, history and vision of its future.

That was an overriding message of people who spoke to King

County government officials at a public meeting on Sept. 13 at the Preston

Community Center. County staff organized the meeting to draw ideas for

its master plan on two new and two existing parks in Preston. Staff is

using the 1996 Forest Gateway Vision for Preston as a starting point.

The existing parks _ the Preston Community Center and the

Preston-Snoqualmie Trail _ were barely mentioned by the 40 or so people

present. But they had plenty to say about the proposed Preston Mill Site

and Preston Athletic Fields parks, both in the idea stage.

Develop the parks in a rural way, not in a style or scale to meet

suburban needs, urged Laury Istvan of Upper Preston.

"That subtlety is important in what we do out here," Istvan said,

noting that it may mean walking a little farther or acknowledging that there's

a cougar in the nearby woods.

"We want a lot, but we don't"

Paul Carkeek

Preston resident

A key question is how appealing to make the parks, Mitchell Hill

resident Hank Greenwalt said. Perhaps parks developers need to decide

how many people the parks and community can handle, then scale

development to that level, Greenwalt said.

Connie Zimmerman, project manager from the county's Division

of Capital Planning & Development, and Tom Exton of the county parks

staff, ran the meeting. Zimmerman said she'd collect comments through

the end of September (e-mail at

connie.zimmerman@metrokc.gov, Fax (206) 296-0186, mail to 320

King County Administration Building, 500 Fourth Ave.,

Seattle, 98104). The comments will be used to create a

draft proposal, followed by another public meeting.

Past uses of the two new parks sites were reflected in comments on

rural character and historic perspective. The Mill Site Park was a working

mill for nearly 100 years and some of the old mill buildings were left

on the site. The athletic fields site contains a

house that's a landmark for many.

For the Mill Site Park, one idea that's been floated is to include a

working steam mill, which could be used to cut dimensional lumber for

special jobs. The park site includes frontage on the Raging River and

was once connected to a railway.

"King County grew up around timbering, and a mill was one part of

that," Istvan said. "You could tell this

whole story around the mill. … It ties in

with the history of Preston."

The Mill Site, with its land along the Raging River, could be a

chance to show the relationship of man and his environment, Carkeek

said. Preston residents are interested in the fate of the old red farmhouse,

now on the athletic fields site. Jennifer Laine of Preston said the

house could be moved to the Mill Site Park and

used as a museum.

"There are a lot of mill pieces scattered around that people want a

place to put," Laine said.

Doug McClelland, president of the Preston Community Club, noted

that the house is a visual landmark as an entrance to Preston.

"It's one of the few historical homes you actually see,"

McClelland said.

As for the athletic fields, McClelland said there's a need

for baseball/softball and soccer fields, but it needs to fit in its rural

neighborhood.

"It's not a Marymoor Park," McClelland said. "It's not a

30-acre (athletic) complex filling every inch."

Other suggestions for the Mill Site: Rebuild the old hotel, provide

river access for kayaks or anglers, a playground, horseshoe pits, a

skate park, a picnic area, an animal farm, workout stations, a jogging

trail, a neighborhood garden, an area for artists,

a blacksmith shop and unstructured open space.

For the athletic complex, McClelland suggested

integrating parking needs with the existing 1,000-plus spaces in the adjacent

industrial park.

Another key component is whether to have lighting, which would

allow increased usage but could be a bother to people in the surrounding

neighborhood.

McClelland also suggested the planning should recognize the

importance of adjacent lands and how county purchases of nearby land

for salmon habitat could influence the parks needs and uses.

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