More than 75 citizens turned out on Tuesday evening for the kickoff public meeting to explore the future of Ballinger Park.
Formerly the Ballinger Golf Course, the City of Mountlake Terrace acquired the property in 2013 to develop as a public park and recreational space. The city subsequently contracted with the Berger Partnership, a Seattle-based design firm, to develop a master plan to reinvent the site as a public park.
After studying the site and assessing its potential from an array of angles, the Berger design team planned three public meetings to solicit ideas and suggestions from interested citizens. Tuesday’s meeting was the first of these. It’s goal was to come up with a list of priorities from the audience that the design team would then incorporate into the next phase of the design.
The evening began with a short introduction by the design team outlining the history of the site and the particular features which give it potential as a new public space. They stressed the value of the open, rolling terrain for exploring and as a meditative space. The north shoreline was identified as a prime ecological area, supporting a variety of resident and migratory wildlife.
Attendees then broke into smaller groups, each led by a member of the Berger design team, to develop answers to four questions:
- How do you use the park today?
- What new park element is most important to you?
- What is the most important ecological improvement to you?
- What makes the park special?
After spending 30 minutes developing responses, the groups came back together to share their suggestions Top on all lists was to keep the area low-key and natural with meandering paths, footbridges and with opportunities to observe wildlife. Within this theme, citizens hoped the design team could include such amenities as enhanced handicapped access, climbable art, picnic shelters and exercise stations.
“We’re committed to citizen input throughout the process of developing this plan and folding it into our overall comprehensive plan,” said Ken Courtmanch, Mountlake Terrace Superintendent of Parks and Facilities. “Our Recreation Parks Advisory Committee (RPAC) has been involved from the start, which helps ensure that it will fit harmoniously into our larger open space plan.”
Andy Mitton, a member of Berger Design Team, sees this as a critical piece of the process. “The ideas we’re getting tonight will form the basis of moving ahead with the next phase, where we will fold these ideas into three alternative plans that will be presented in our next public meeting in about a month.”
At that meeting citizens will again be asked to weigh in and provide guidance on which of the three alternatives should be the basis of the final plan, which the team will modify accordingly and present at a third meeting to be held this summer.
“We have a strong environmental and conservation ethic in Mountlake Terrace,” said Edith Duttlinger, Senior Planner with the Mountlake Terrace Community and Economic Development Department. “I’m really seeing that at work here tonight with the great turnout and the quality ideas being generated.”
Learn more about Ballinger Park and keep up to date on the planning process here.
– Story and photos by Larry Vogel