An aerial view of the 27.9 acre Eagle Ridge Park off of Soper Hill Road.
After months of discussion and much research and help from the public, a Master Plan has been developed for Lake Stevens’ own Eagle Ridge Park located off of Soper Hill Road.
The Lake Stevens Park Board envisions the 27.9 acre park to include covered and uncovered picnic tables, an interpretive center, an amphitheater and even an outdoor classroom along with play equipment and trails.
While much of this vision won’t be complete until around 2020, the City will continue to apply for grants and find other opportunities to complete the Board’s vision.
As part of the planning process, the Lake Stevens Food Bank asked that the Board, and then the City Council, consider allowing them to use the existing ‘pole barn’ as their new facility.
On Monday, Dec. 6 the City Council voted on the adoption of the Master Plan. There was however, a “proviso” added to the motion which split the council’s vote 4-3.
Councilmember John Spencer made the motion that the master plan be approved with the proviso that the pole barn remain an option for the food bank use and at such time as the food bank submit its sufficient info that they can work within the concept that they would then take up the question of amending for adoption in the annual comprehensive plan.
Basically, Spencer asked the food bank to do more research and planning and then if they still continue to feel that the pole barn is a feasible space, come back to the council.
“There are obviously many hurdles to overcome for the Food Bank to use the pole barn. I placed the caveat into the resolution to give the Food Bank the opportunity to give us firm proposals that we can consider, rather than speculating that it won’t work,” Spencer explained. “I guess you could say that I’m a guy that likes to hear why something can work. If it doesn’t make sense, then we can make the decision to not go forward with their proposal. But until we see something that is well thought out and firm, we should leave the door open. Clearly, the onus is on the Food Bank to prepare a proposal that fits with the park concept.”
Spencer, along with Suzanne Quigley, Mark Somers and Neal Dooley, voted to accept the Master Plan with the proviso. Marcus Tagent, Kim Daughtry and Kathy Holder voted to accept the Master Plan as is.
Each of the councilmembers expressed their concern for the Food Bank and their hopes that they are able to find an adequate space so that they can continue to serve Lake Stevens’ residents. However, three of the councilmembers feel that Eagle Ridge Park is not the place.
“We’re increasing their square footage very little (by 300 square feet),” Daughtry said. “We need to follow the Park Board’s decision. They put a lot of time and effort into it.”
Marcus Tagent felt the cons outweighed the pros when it came to putting the Food Bank in the par.
“First and foremost, I think there is an immediate need for a new food bank,” Tagent said. “At the time, the Food Bank hadn’t done any studies and they weren’t sure even how many parking spaces they would need. I didn’t want to have a park built around a food bank.”
On a Staff Report dated Nov. 8, 2010 it reads, “After considerable deliberations, the Park Board continued to express preference that the Food Bank not be located on the Park property. An additional concern with allowing a non-park, non-recreational use on this site relates the source of the funds that were used to purchase the additional part of the property. Since the funds came from Park Mitigation fees collected from new development for park impacts in the City, a legal opinion on this subject was provided by the City Attorney.”
Councilmember Dooley is concerned about the use of park mitigation fees being used for something other than parks.
“I want the Food Bank to completely look at all the hurdles and expenses that they would have to accomplish to be in the park,” he said. “They would also need to have the funding to be able to hold the city harmless for refunds of park mitigation funds.”
The Food Bank is continuing to look at other options but feels that the pole barn may be the best fit for their needs. While the building is only a few hundred square feet bigger, it is designed differently than their current space at Ebenezer Lutheran Church.
“Right now we are in the mode that this (Eagle Ridge Park) is what we think will work for us,” Mitch Robinson, member of the Lake Stevens Food Bank Board said. “It’s about the same size but my proposal would be to put the refrigerator and freezer outside – they are inside now. We are trying to do what we have the money to dream about. I think the staff is trying to figure out how to be proactive. The park is not the perfect situation but we can make it work and make it better. We are kind of committed to pursuing that. We think that we are going to have to look at what they (the City) are going to require.”
Until further studies are complete and other options are looked at, it is still a guessing game where the Food Bank will end up.
“I know of two other possible options out there that may work, but it is too soon to tell if they can work,” Dooley said. “That was one of the reasons that I voted yes, so there would be more time for the other options to be explored. I would only want the Food Bank in Eagle Ridge Park if all options have been exhausted and we are not at that point yet.”
The future of the Food Bank at Eagle Ridge Park is still unanswered but the Park Board’s vision there is one where learning, family memories and a eco-friendly environment can co-exist.
“My vision is in-line with what the Park Board has developed. It will be a great park for people of all ages to enjoy and meet neighbors of Lake Stevens walking, playing or using the planned garden area. I want the park to serve all of our citizens,” Spencer said.
For now, the Food Bank will keep pursuing their options, Robinson said.