Sports park options discussed

June 5, 2008

By Jim Feehan

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If you build it, they will come.

That was no more apparent than when 50 people showed up to a June 2 meeting at City Hall to discuss the future of a proposed regional sports park in southwest Newcastle.The city has entered into an agreement with MacLeod Reckord, a Seattle landscape architectural firm, to design a sports park facility at the former state Department of Transportation site on Southeast 95th Way.

The 32-acre site borders May Creek Park and has some ravines and steep slopes, with about 14 acres available for sports fields, said Ed Macleod, landscape architect at MacLeod Reckord.

“This meeting is not just about athletic fields, but also potential amenities in the park,” he said.

Potential amenities could include restrooms, lit ball fields and hiking trails among others.

The wooded area with some open meadows was a former gravel pit for the Interstate 90 construction project at Mercer Island.

A steering committee was formed in April to determine the best use for the space. The committee is made up of representatives from sports groups, Newcastle Parks commissioners and Parks Department staffers.

The committee looked at several configurations of fields from baseball only to a multipurpose field. The committee also looked at whether to use grass, a synthetic surface or a combination of both. More traditional sports activities were considered, as well as emerging sports in the area.

“Lacrosse is becoming more popular in high school and at the club level,” Macleod said.

In addition to sports fields, so-called “passive uses” (jogging, walking paths) are also under consideration. 

Neighbors said they enjoy the peace and quiet along Southeast 95th Way and voiced concerns about additional traffic, lighting, parking and vandalism at the park. Residents asked if surveillance cameras could be installed and if the park could be encircled with fencing.

Still other neighbors, who live in unincorporated King County across the street, feared Newcastle would annex them.

“We have no plans to annex,” Newcastle Mayor Ben Varon said. “Rest assured, we’re not going to come knocking on your door.”

Paying for the park could come from a bond or levy, the state, the county or corporate funding, Varon said.

“We’re looking at private funding, too,” he said. “We need to find ways to find those dollars.”

A public meeting is set from 6-8 p.m. July 29 at City Hall.



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