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Mill Creek City Council approves North Pointe neighborhood park design

The Mill Creek City Council unanimously approved a North Pointe neighborhood park design at their regular September 27, 2016, meeting. Mill Creek’s Parks and Recreation Board recommended the chosen Natural Play Park design after months of discussion and public review.
Newly approved North Point Park design. Image courtesy of the City of Mill Creek.

The following comes from the September 27, 2016, Mill Creek City Council agenda summary.

The City of Mill Creek owns and maintains ten neighborhood parks and one community park.

Of the ten neighborhood parks, only North Pointe Park does not have any park improvements beyond a grassy open area.

This 1.2-acre circular shaped park is located one block west of 35th Avenue SE off of 139th Street SE.

It was constructed in 2006 by the North Pointe plat developer. Since the developer fulfilled his neighborhood park mitigation requirements with the dedication of the land to the City, it has remained unchanged as just an open grass area with some perimeter planting beds.

The North Pointe Division is now built out, and many of the area residents would like to see improvements added to the park.

The City's Parks and Recreation Board worked diligently with staff and several members of the Design Review Board over the past six months to develop four design concepts for the park. The purpose of creating multiple park concept drawings was to provide a wide range of distinct design choices for the public to review and comment.

Common to all four designs are perimeter and interior sidewalks for walkers, benches scattered around the park, additional trees, and park signage.

None of the concepts include restrooms or large covered picnic areas.

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.

Discussions of modifying the curb and gutter on North Pointe Circle to increase parking ended when a concept level cost estimate showed the street improvements would consume much of the total park budget.

The chosen Natural Play Park design is a concept that includes a playground area with play equipment and surrounding benches, and an eating area with a small picnic shelter and a few small picnic tables.

The Board revised the initial design to preserve more of the existing open space to maximize the area in which kids can run around and toss and kick balls.

The playground and play equipment element takes less traditional approach with a focus on naturally occurring objects, shapes and topography.

This design brings attention to the natural features of the Penny Creek drainage basin in which the park is located. This is a design concept that is rapidly gaining in popularity throughout the region.

Public input on the park design concepts was actively sought at the Mill Creek Festival and two public meetings held in the park on the evenings of July 28th and August 9th.

The meetings at the park had outstanding attendance and over 127 people provided input on the four different design concepts via a short questionnaire available on two iPads.

The Natural Play Park design was the overwhelming preference of the citizens attending the meetings.

On September 1st the Parks and Recreation Board reviewed the summary of public comments and after a discussion they unanimously voted to recommend the Natural Play Park design concept to the city council.