A new year and a new park for the Preston community

Guest column

By Warren Jimenez, Director, King County Parks

Preston Mill Park has re-opened after almost two years of improvements to this beautiful and historic community space. King County Parks is eager to continue its public partnership in developing even more features that honor the site’s rich past while ensuring a vibrant future.

In addition to a new parking lot, restroom and stormwater infrastructure, Preston Mill Park improvements include a restored tunnel and stairs that will soon be open to the neighboring Jim Ellis Preston Community Center, creating a large shared public space that certainly speaks to Mr. Ellis’ lifelong commitment of improving communities through open space preservation and restoration. The park improvements were developed through King County’s Community Partnerships and Grants program that empowers community partners to develop public recreation facilities on King County-owned lands. King County Parks joined with the Mountains to Sound Greenway to bring community leader Jim Ellis’ and the Preston community’s vision to fruition. Working with an architecture firm, community members developed the conceptual vision for the park, submitting a final plan to King County Parks for implementation.

This work brought forth many amazing concepts for the space. Some early ideas, such as a bridge across the river, amphitheater, etc., were not able to be included in the final community plan due to environmental constraints of the site and funding limitations. The project was also split into two phases. Phase 2 of the community vision includes a picnic shelter and a new open-sided structure to replace the mill shed, pending updated estimates and additional funding.

Due to the need for rezoning, supply chain delays for the restroom as well as environmental and technical challenges at this site, this project has been a long process. We appreciate the unwavering commitment of all involved.

We are especially indebted to Mr. Ellis, the Preston community member who advocated tirelessly not just for this park, but for the preservation of so many important landscapes across King County. Jim was so instrumental to the Preston community that the King County Council renamed the Preston Athletic Fields, Preston Park, and Preston Mill Park to be collectively known as the Jim Ellis Memorial Regional Park at Preston.

This beautiful gathering space is a testament to collaboration, community spirit, and the clarity of Jim Ellis’ vision.

As we celebrate the re-opening of Preston Mill Park, we extend our gratitude to our partners and community members for their dedication and active participation in creating the kind of public spaces we can all enjoy and be proud of.

We are partnering with Mountains to Sound Greenway on a community celebration to formally inaugurate this newly imagined space. Follow King County Parks on social media for updates.

We hope you enjoy your new park!