Preston parks renamed to honor visionary Jim Ellis

Parks in Preston will be renamed to honor Jim Ellis, a civic leader and regional conservation activist.

The decision came after the Metropolitan King County Council approved the name changes this week. The Preston Mill Park, Preston Athletic Fields and the Jim Ellis Preston Community Center will all be known as the Jim Ellis Memorial Regional Park at Preston.

“This honors Jim’s extraordinary life and work, and his family’s deep appreciation for the Preston community,” a press release from the Mountains to Sound Greenway — an organization Ellis founded — states.

Jim Ellis and his brother Bob built a cabin by hand on the Raging River in the late 1930s as teenagers. His brother died in World War II, and Jim Ellis was devastated. His wife suggested he turn to civic leadership, the press release states.

Ellis led efforts to preserve forests, rivers, farmland and parks in King and Kittitas counties. He was a bond attorney and helped negotiate the cleanup of polluted Lake Washington, created civic infrastructure and parks, preserved farmland and led efforts to build a new convention center in Seattle, the press release states. In 1991, he was the founding president of the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust, which has the vision of creating a greenway across the Cascade Mountains.

In 1997, a collaboration between the county, state and Preston community and the trust led to the vision of the park complex. Since then, surrounding forest lands have been conserved through public ownership and the Preston Athletic Fields were developed in partnership with the Eastside Football Club.

Ellis passed away in 2019. More information can be found on the Mountains to Sound Greenway website.