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Faced With Significant Opposition, LFP Council Prepared to Shelve Current Park & Ride Proposal

About 60 residents, many of whom live on or near 41st Ave. N.E. and 44th Ave. N.E., speak out against proposed Park & Ride spaces on residential streets

A proposal by the city of Lake Forest Park to put a total of 62 Park & Ride stalls for bus users in residential neighborhoods along 41st Ave. N.E. and 44th Ave. N.E. is now dead after the LFP City Council meeting Monday evening.

The Council heard a report from city engineer Neil Jensen and a consultant from Otak, a Kirkland-based architecture and engineering firm about the project. Both did not stick around for public comment, which featured oppostion from most residents, not surprising considering the outcry at the Aug. 23 meeting when the controversy first reached a crescendo.

During the discussion, Councilmember Sandy Koeppenol suggested that the Council shelve the Park & Ride plans and task the Local Government Committee with coming up with a different solution. Councilmember Don Fiene drew applause from many of the 60 residents in City Council chambers when he said the Council should address the policy issue of using residential streets for a Park & Ride at its Thursday meeting.

The Council is expected to vote on a resolution Thursday to send the issue back to the Local Government Committee, and find an alternative. The Local Government Committee is chaired by Fiene and includes deputy mayor Catherine Stanford and Councilmember John Wright.

In 2009, the city of Lake Forest Park, under the leadership of then-Mayor Dave Hutchinson, citing high traffic volumes on State Route 522 through LFP, lobbied for and got a $500,000 grant for a Park & Ride  from the House Transportation Committee, chaired by Rep. Judy Clibborn.

But since 2009, the Council has been unable to find a way to put the money to use. Two years of negotiation with the Lake City Elks Club stalled and now that property is up for sale. Madison Marquette, which owns and operates Lake Forest Park Towne Centre, never warmed up to the idea of giving up parking spaces for the Park & Ride. And now the latest attempt, which proposed putting 38 spaces on 41st Ave. N.E. and 24 spaces on 44th Ave. N.E., has proven to be immensely unpopular with neighbors.

John Davis, who lives on 41st Ave. N.E., said putting Park & Ride spaces in a residential neighborhood, would be "unprecedented in the Seattle area and the corridor we live in," and "would have very negative impacts."

"Cannibalizing our community is not the answer," he said.

Lorri Bodi, who also lives on 41st Ave. N.E., said she supports the idea of a Park & Ride, but not in a single-family neighborhood. She noted that the proposal the project would only increase the spaces there now by a dozen. Other neighbors said some commuters already park there on the street and they don't have a major problem with that. The city's project would be unsafe for children in the area, disturb existing wetlands and seemed generally unnecessary to most who spoke.

"We've pretty much exhausted," the options in Lake Forest Park, said Deputy Mayor Catherine Stanford, who has worked for three years trying to find a solution. "I'm happy to hear new ideas on it."

Cobbling together spaces somewhere else could be a solution. The city could continue to talk to Windermere, which has offices in Lake Forest Park Towne Centre, and could supply about 25 spaces for Park & Ride users.

The city also could approach the owners of strip club Déja Vu on Bothell Way N.E. which has a large, often mostly unused parking lot. That hasn't happened yet, possibly because it looks unseemly to some to give public money to a strip club and locating the project there.

One proposal, that is not in Lake Forest Park, but appears viable is the Church of the Redeemer in Kenmore. Former city employee, LFP resident and church member Sarah Phillips told the Council the church was not opposed to having a gravel lot there converted into 60 Park & Ride spaces. It's on the 522 Plan as a designated Park & Ride and despite some grading issues, a new traffic light going in at 61st and 182nd makes that a more attractive option.

Whatever happens the city is on borrowed time. The grant has been extended a couple times before but there's no guarantee that the Legislature won't reclaim the money next session because it hasn't been used yet, Stanford said.

Hugh Glass September 26, 2012 at 05:20 AM
"The money given to the city by the state was to be used to develop a Park and Ride. That is what residents are asking the city to do." Ok - where? They've been looking at this for three years - Windermere and Town Center are the obvious choices, but they don't want it located there. Strip club? Cemetery? Kenmore? There's only so many places around here where you can park that many cars.
Kerri September 26, 2012 at 03:10 PM
The city has an excellent opportunity to build a park and ride right next to Lake Forest Park in Kenmore. It is just as close to many of the residence as the "road improvement" plan for 44th and 41st. The Deja Vue has never been looked into for a park and ride. They dropped the Windemere plan because the manager was "lukewarm" to the idea. There are options. Hopefully the city will move quickly on the Kenmore church lot, before it is lost as was the original Elks idea. The targeted streets are available for parking for commuters now, yet they are not choosing to do so, because they are inconvienent. Spending money to put a curb on these streets is a waste of the government's money.
Marilyn McGuire September 26, 2012 at 03:13 PM
Thanks to the Mayor and City Council for "shelving" the proposed idea of a Park and Ride on residential streets and taking another look at the options. The Town Center is the obvious location, but there are others as well. I'd like the city to approach Madison Marquette again, owners of the Town Center, and try to work out a deal. Since the Church of the Redeemer in Kenmore is open to a Park and Ride, let's move forward there while continuing to explore other locations.
Gretchen Bennett Guethner September 27, 2012 at 04:38 AM
I also commented at this meeting, speaking for myself as a part of the vast majority of LFP residents who don't live on 41st Ave. or 44th Ave. We've been waiting for years for the opportunity to reduce our commute costs.
Morgan Kellock September 28, 2012 at 01:12 AM
Many of us who stood up for the residents of 44th and 41st Avenues don't live on those streets. We are another part of the "vast majority of LFP residents" who believe solutions to commuter problems need not come at the expense of our neighbors. You will never truly improve your quality of life by degrading someone else's. Some of the seniors on 44th have lived there since before LFP was a city, before there was a mall paved over the wetland, and before Lyon Creek was poured into a ditch. Let them live their lives in peace. Other better options for Park & Ride locations ARE available and we should take them. ~Morgan Kellock

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