If the new Ballinger Park in Mountlake Terrace had a guestbook, there wouldn’t be too many entries in it after the grounds’ first week open to the public; in fact, the park has most likely had more visitors of the webbed-boot, clawed and four-legged kind than of the human kind.
The former golf course at 23000 Lakeview Avenue was opened on Sept. 14 as a “passive park” by the City of Mountlake Terrace. The property had been closed to the public since November 2012.
The grounds show little resemblance to its former manicured condition when it was the Ballinger Lake Golf Course. The former tee boxes and fairways have only been mowed sparingly by City of Mountlake Terrace park staff, and the greens have been left untouched and are now dried out patches of brown turf.
City officials plan on only minimal maintenance to the grounds, allowing some grass and brush to grow naturally while mowing pathways through the park for visitors to traverse. Volunteers from the neighborhood near the park have been removing some blackberry bushes and invasive plants from the property during monthly work parties.
Jack Nordblad of Mountlake Terrace and Walkin – who just goes by the one name – of Edmonds had the park to themselves when they visited mid-week. “It’s neat and exciting that the place is open,” Walkin said. “I’ve been here every day since in opened.”
While geese and ducks are abundant and easily seen at the park, Walkin said he has also caught glimpses of owls and a family of coyotes on the grounds.
Simply exploring the 42 acres has been a draw for Nordblad. “I had been coming here to play golf for 25 years,” he said. “It’s great to be able to see some areas of the place that you wouldn’t when you were golfing.” On this day Nordblad and Walkin were checking out a Halls Creek culvert down a secluded trail at the park.
Ballinger Park has three entrances for visitors – a gate just east of the Ballinger Lake Clubhouse, another at the adjacent Ballinger Park Boat Launch, and a third along the west boundary near the Interurban Trail. The park is open dawn to dusk for passive activities; the city asks that visitors pack out any trash they generate while on site and avoid environmentally-sensitive areas on the grounds.
— Story and photos by Doug Petrowski