Protecting open space from future development was the priority of City Council members when they voted at their February 6 meeting to purchase 4.1 acres of land for the price of $620,000, to nearly double the size of Juanita Heights Park.
“As the City faces the challenges associated with a thousand new people moving to Puget Sound every week, we continue to strategically expand our parks and preserve our remaining forested open spaces so our growing population has more places to recreate, gather, or seek solitude” said Councilmember Jon Pascal, Chair of the Public Works, Parks and Human Services Committee. “This purchase will not only expand Juanita Heights Park and preserve crucial wildlife habitat, it will also enable the City to explore the possibility of building a walking trail to better connect the Finn Hill and Juanita neighborhoods.”
Juanita Heights Park is located in Kirkland’s Finn Hill Neighborhood and was transferred to the City by King County following annexation in 2011. The 6-acre park is currently comprised of ten separate tax parcels, several of which were acquired by the City to expand the park between 2011 and 2014. This purchase will expand the park to 10.1 acres.
The added 4.1 acres consists of undeveloped and forested open space, and contains informal trails connecting to the trail system within the existing park. Expansion of Juanita Heights Park has been part of a discussion on a comprehensive park acquisition plan in order to preserve and protect the existing forest, and is identified in the City’s adopted Parks, Recreation, and Open Space (PROS) Plan.
Funding for the acquisition included a grant from King County’s Conservation Futures Tax program. The purchase was strongly supported by the Finn Hill Neighborhood Alliance and is consistent with the recently adopted Finn Hill Neighborhood Plan. In a letter to the City Council, the Alliance president Scott Morris noted that “one of the pillars of the neighborhood plan is the preservation of woodlands and green spaces that remain on Finn Hill. The acquisition of the property will be extremely helpful in our efforts.”