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County plans future of Kayak Point Park

 

Christopher Andersson

Jagger Holly plays at the beach of Kayak Point on March 8.

Snohomish County Parks officials hope to make improvements to Kayak Point Park and have begun planning a vision for the future for the area.

Parks officials met with the public on March 9 to begin gathering feedback for a master plan for the park.

The process began when county officials were working at the beach/day-use area of Kayak Point Park and recognized some needs for the park, said Sharon Swan, a principal park planner at Snohomish County Parks and Recreation.

"The park was originally built and dedicated in the '70s and so it's well-used and well-loved, but there are some various issues that have come up that we wanted to address," she said.

Some locals said that there was some upkeep needed at the site.

"I haven't been here in years and it's a lot different from when I was a kid. I always had great memories, but it's good to see it's not completely run down. For $10 a day you'd think it would be a little more pristine though," said local Anthony Holly.

Swan said that improvements to the beach/pier area will likely come first, but county officials are now looking at expansions for the future as well.

"We want it to be a place that people can use and love well into the future. So we need to take care of the part people use now, which has some issues and positioning for future expansion," she said.

There has been interest in adding trails and more campgrounds, she said.

"We don't want to start doing that without having a vision for the whole park," she said.

"You just want to make sure you have a plan for the future so that when you develop something you're not precluding another use in the future," said Jim Brennan, a landscape architect at J.A. Brennan Associates, a Seattle landscape architect company who are developing a plan for the county.

Brennan said he hoped to keep the site's rural qualities.

"We know there's a lot of development coming to this area but [Kayak Point] still has, in our mind, a rural character," he said.

Additional trails and campsites are some of the biggest pieces that could help develop those qualities, he said.

The total number of campsites would be limited by the amount of staff available to take care of them, said Swan, but there is room to expand currently.

The current sites also need traffic improvements.

"Our existing campground was built in the '70s so a lot of the turning radiuses are not sized for the RVs we're seeing now," said Swan.

Brennan also sought input over whether the public preferred campsites that were isolated or close together, or something in-between those extremes.

Camping in the area is currently scarce, said Swan.

"It's nearly impossible to get a reservation in this area for camping once summer starts, so there's a lot of demand for it," she said.

The 300 acres of Kayak Point also have wetlands which Brennan said his team will preserve.

"We want to be good stewards of the land," he said.

Tanja Wilcox, a landscape architect at J.A. Brennan Associates, said that trails can cross the wetlands, "but you might need to do a little mitigation," she said.

Mitigation might include focusing some native planting around the trail areas, she said.

There is also a significant area of what appears to be old growth forest, untouched by logging, said Wilcox.

"We have walked through the areas and not seen any signs of stumps. They have these great big beautiful trees," she said.

"I'm pretty good at forest stuff and can usually tell if it's been logged and there were not any stumps," said Brennan.

Wilcox said there are many areas that have been more recently logged that could be developed while leaving the area of old growth untouched.

Another potential development for the park includes a community center, which could serve a number of functions for groups coming to Kayak Point, said Brennan.

Officials also took feedback on a number of other activities being considered including open meadow fields, kid's activity items and picnic shelters/tables.

Christopher Andersson

Jim Brennan, a landscape architect at J.A. Brennan Associates, talks with locals about the future of Kayak Point during a public meeting on March 9.

More immediately though, Snohomish County officials are looking at improvements to the day-use area of the park.

This includes improving the boat launch, reconfiguring parking, providing additional recreational space and addressing some problems with the shoreline, said Swan.

Officials are now looking through design possibilities for the area. Once finalized, they "we will need to identify funding for the project," said Swan.

"It could be finished as early as 2019 depending on our grant cycles," she said.

The "logical next steps," said Swan, could be renovation of the ranger's office or expansions to the campgrounds.

"These will be approached piece by piece as we have funding available," she said.

More information and updates about Kayak Point planning process can be found at snohomishcountywa.gov/3711/Kayak-Point.

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