Mountlake Terrace city officials have set Sept. 14 as the latest date they hope to have the new Ballinger Lake Park open to the public for hiking and casual use.
Curt Brees, Assistant City Manager / Parks, Recreation and Public Works Director, made the announcement at the Recreation and Park Advisory Commission (RPAC) meeting Tuesday night at the Recreation Pavilion.
Brees and Ken Courtmanch, the city’s Parks and Property Management Superintendent, helped lead discussion with RPAC commissioners, members of the Neighborhood Parks Improvement Subcommittee and interested meeting attendees concerning both short-term and long-term plans for the former Lake Ballinger Golf Course property at Tuesday’s meeting. After concerns about park rules, access and garbage collection were addressed, Brees and Courtmanch shared the city’s goal of opening the park by Sept.14.
“A lot of people want to know ‘when can we use the site – when can we get out there,’” Courtmanch said. “We want people to be able to use it.”
The former golf course property has been closed to the public since last November.
Brees and Courtmanch will meet with the city’s Planning Department on Wednesday to verify there are no further city, county or state codes that need to be addressed that could prevent an opening of the 42-acre site for public use. Then signs with park rules listed and fence gates will be prepared. “It might take us a few weeks to get signs made and maintenance issues handled,” Courmanch explained.
Plans call for the current fencing that encircles the site to remain in place, with three pedestrian gates allowing access. A four-foot gate near the city’s Ballinger Park Boat Launch and Fishing Access Park would be opened, as would a gate just east of the Ballinger Lake Clubhouse, and an eight-foot gate along the park’s west boundary. Each gate would be modified to allow pedestrian access but prevent bicycles or motorized vehicles from entering the park.
Three larger gates around the park that currently allow maintenance and emergency vehicles entry would remain locked in the current plans for the site.
Signs listing park rules will be posted at each pedestrian entrance, as will garbage cans and eventually recycling containers. Current plans call for no other garbage receptacles to be placed in the park as city officials want to promote a “pack it in, pack it out” policy concerning garbage collection. “It’s not an unreasonable expectation of the public to expect them to pack it out,” said Brees.
Other rules that are expected to be adopted for Ballinger Park include:
* Do not disturb natural areas, nor feed or harass wildlife
* No open fires/cooking/fireworks
* No overnight camping
* No smoking
* No alcohol
* No unauthorized motorized vehicles
* No biking
* Pets must be leashed at all times/owners must pick up after their pets
* No golfing / organized sports
“We have to remember that it’s a wildlife area and trails, and that’s what it should be used for,” Courtmanch added.
The trails will initially be grassy areas that have been mowed at a shorter height than the natural vegetation growth that is expected at the site. Some areas of the park will be deemed as off-limit “sensitive” or “native vegetation” areas. One of the bridges that cross Hall Creek on the grounds will be fenced off as it has become unsafe to use.
The push to have the site open by Sept. 14 at the latest is to coincide with a city volunteer work day that is scheduled for that date. The National Day of Service – Park Cleanup Day event is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m.; residents are encouraged to volunteer in this community cleanup effort at city parks and open space in remembrance of Sept. 11.
City officials left open the possibility of Ballinger Lake Park being opened for public use before Sept. 14 if all preparation work is completed before that date.
— By Doug Petrowski