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Mill Creek City Council approves East Gateway Urban Village park plan

The new park will be easily accessible from existing Mill Creek neighborhoods and will feature two lawn areas, a Bocce Ball court with seating, and a central meeting area with a playground, picnic bench shelter, and restrooms. There will be a number of parking stalls next to the park in order to facilitate community access.
The construction of Mill Creek's newest park should start this spring. Image credit: Core Design.

The Mill Creek City Council unanimously approved the plan for the City’s newest park at their regular December 10, 2013, meeting.

The new park will be easily accessible on foot from nearby existing Mill Creek neighborhoods and will feature two lawn areas, a Bocce Ball court with seating, and a central meeting area with a playground, picnic bench shelter, and restrooms. There will be a number of parking stalls next to the park in order to facilitate community access.

Mill Creek’s Park and Recreation Board selected the concept for this park plan on November 14th after a number of public meetings. They approved the finalized park master plan at their December 4th meeting.

Polygon Northwest will design and build the 1.26-acre East Gateway Urban Village park (the new park has not yet been named) during the first phase of their mixed-use development. According to Tom Rogers, Mill Creek’s Community Development Director, park construction may begin in the spring.

Councilmember Kathy Nielsen commended Polygon Northwest and the Parks and Recreation Board for their hard work and hopes the new park will attract customers to the new commercial development nearby, “I believe the fact that we are providing some unique play equipment… people will coming to this park for the amenities that are here and hopefully will support the commercial part of the site.”

Polygon Northwest is building an 18.5-acre multi-use development with 29,000 square feet of commercial capacity, 122 townhomes/condominiums, 180 apartments, and the neighborhood park in Mill Creek’s East Gateway Urban Village.

Kimberly Allen, Mill Creek’s Hearing Examiner, granted the development’s binding site plan, which included the requirement for Polygon Northwest to design and build the park, last summer.

Mill Creek’s Community Development Department guided Polygon Northwest through the park planning process beginning with a public brainstorming session at Heatherwood Middle School on October 2, 2013. Rogers said, “The participants developed three park design concepts and submitted ideas for park improvements.”

According to Rogers, Joshua Beard, the Registered Landscape Architect hired by Polygon Northwest, developed two park options, “Option A was characterized by two distinct open lawn play areas with the play equipment and picnic shelter located in the middle of the park. A restroom was located adjacent to but separate from the play area and picnic shelter.”

“Option B showed a larger single open lawn play area with the play equipment located in the northwest portion of the park. Both a restroom and picnic shelter were centrally located with the play equipment.”

“Both options included a landscape buffer adjacent to the residential use to the east, a public plaza, benches, tables, and walking paths.”

Mill Creek’s Parks and Recreation Board are the lead decision makers on new park designs. According to Rogers, they discussed the two park options at their regular October 21st meeting and, “suggested several refinements to the plans.”

Mill Creek reached out again to the public to inform them of the two park options and to get feedback at another public open house on November 6th. Rogers said that over 20 residents attended the open house, “… and made a number of suggestions on play equipment and other amenities. Comments on play equipment included a desire for swings and for facilities suitable for those with disabilities.”

According to Rogers, at their November 14th meeting the Parks and Recreation Board reviewed the two park options and, “… appeared to be overwhelmingly for Option A, with centralized location of the play equipment and the two distinct lawn areas.”

“It was the Board's opinion that two smaller lawn areas allowed for two group activities to occur simultaneously, while the single play area may make it difficult for more than one group at a time to use the lawn area.”

“The Parks and Recreation Board did recommend modifying Option A by combining the restroom and picnic shelter locations. The Park Board also discussed the types of play equipment and other amenities that should be provided in the park. Much of the discussion was focused on what activity should be placed in the area identified as a recreation area. Bocce ball was ultimately chosen because of its popularity, it can be played by all age groups, and it is relatively easy and inexpensive to maintain.”

According to Rogers Mill Creek City Councilmembers Kathy Nielsen and Bart Masterson contributed significant time in the park planning process as Park Board liaisons.

The following list includes the features that the Parks and Recreation Board requested be incorporated into the neighborhood park:

  • Gathering area to include decorative hardscape and seating.
  • A combined restroom and picnic shelter building (one table ADA accessible) with barbeques, and a drinking fountain.
  • Two grass areas for play.
  • Walking paths with one loop internally located (not adjacent to street) for young children.
  • Picnic tables (one ADA accessible).
  • Benches.
  • Bike racks.
  • Play equipment for ages 2-5 years.
  • Play equipment for ages 5-12 years.
  • Swings (for all ages including one ADA accessible).
  • Spinner toy (ADA accessible).
  • Landscaping around detention vault vents.
  • Bocce ball court with seating/screening wall near the vents on the south side of the park (with a future court location reserved).

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