Communty hopes Preston Parks are developed in a rural way
October 2, 2008 · Updated 3:26 PM
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"
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
firstname.lastname@example.org, 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,"
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
"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
Another key component is whether to have lighting, which would
allow increased usage but could be a bother to people in the surrounding
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.