By Richard Van Winkle, News of Mill Creek.
After numerous discussions over the past few months, at their December 6, 2017, regular meeting, the Mill Creek City Council unanimously chose “Exploration Park” as the new name for the park in the North Point neighborhood.
According to a City of Mill Creek news release, “The name was chosen because the natural play park’s community-selected features create opportunities for child exploration. This includes a large play lawn; a natural play area for children, including a climbing hill with embedded slide, logs and rocks; a frog pond; a short tunnel; and some benches and picnic tables for relaxing and eating.”
Unlike a number of other Mill Creek neighborhood parks, there are no restrooms or large covered picnic areas.
According to an October 2016 news release, “The Parks and Recreation Board wanted to ensure all the park design concepts recognized this was a local neighborhood park, not a community or ‘destination’ park that would draw many people from neighborhoods too far away to walk. Their concern was this would exacerbate the already limited parking capacity of the park and the adjacent streets.”
“Exploration Park will be a great addition to the City’s current park system and will incorporate many new natural play features trending in the national parks and recreation industry,” said Brian Davern, recreation and tourism manager. “This project so far has revealed a high level of civic engagement by our residents, which is indicative of our strong community spirit.”
Exploration Park will get the features mentioned above with a significant upgrade in the summer of 2018.
According to a briefing given to the city council by City Manager Rebecca Polizzotto on June 27, 2017, the park’s design and construction was estimated to cost between $869,526 and $1,066,526. The is above the $530,000 budget approved by the city council in 2016.
Fixed-cost bids were solicited and received by the city, but the final numbers have not yet been presented to the entire city council in a public forum.
The 1.2-acre North Pointe neighborhood park was dedicated to the City by the neighborhood’s housing developer in 2006.
Interim park improvements simply consist of lawn, perimeter landscape beds and street trees. Poor drainage has limited the use of the park during the wet season.
In 2016, the Parks and Recreation Board, city staff, and several members of the Design Review Board developed four design concept alternatives for the final development of the park for public review.
The city solicited significant public input, which showed a preference for the natural play park concept. The city council formally adopted this concept at their September 27, 2016, regular meeting.
Broad community input was also solicited from the public to get suggestions for naming the new park. City staff obtained survey results via the city website and by polling visitors to the 2017 Mill Creek Festival and Town Center Art Walks. A total of 75 name suggestions were received.
Out of these 75 names, the Park and Recreation Board chose Discovery Park, Beaver Park, and Penny Creek Park as their recommendations to the city council.
At least one of the city councilmembers disliked each of the recommended names when Polizzotto presented them at their December 5, 2017, meeting.
After a brief discussion, they chose Exploration Park as the park’s new name.