Conversion of Ballinger golf course to park ‘will take some time’
While the Mountlake Terrace City Council has now given its blessing to convert the Ballinger Lakes Golf Course into a new park, picnickers and nature lovers can rejoice but shouldn’t make any plans to visit the property just yet. “It is likely that there would be some type of a grand opening in 2013, though the park planning efforts will take some time,” City Manager John Caulfield said on Tuesday.
For more than 50 years, the 42-acre property alongside the north shore of Lake Ballinger has been utilized as a nine-hole golf course, but that will now change following the city council’s decision on Monday night to shut down the course and change it into parkland.
Converting the course into a park will take more than just removing tee markers, yardage signs and pins. “There will most likely be a number of issues that would have to be addressed before opening,” Caulfield advised.
The initial work to transform the golf course into a park will be placed in the hands of the Mountlake Terrace Recreation & Parks Advisory Commission (RPAC), a seven-member citizen board made up of volunteers appointed by the city council. The commission, among other duties, is charged with making policy recommendations concerning the parks and recreation services provided by the city. The RPAC will host a number of community meetings to allow public input on what is desired for the park, Caulfield said
The city will also need to develop plans for identifying pathways and amenities (benches, garbage receptacles, etc.), shoreline protection, maintenance management, and park use rules and regulations before allowing public access to the land, Caulfield explained. Other concerns for the city include repairs needed on some of the bridges that cross Halls Creek on the property, and removal of some overgrown vegetation and low-hanging tree limbs throughout the acreage.
In addition, the city wants to develop park closure procedures for when Halls Creek overflows its banks and creates localized flooding on the property, Caulfield added.
Another factor in preparation plans for the property is the city’s continuing study of developing a bicycle/pedestrian trail alongside Lakeview Drive. Initial options for the trail were to place it along the east side of Lakeview Drive so that it wouldn’t infringe upon the golf course, a necessity spelled out in the city’s contract with former course manager Hardy Golf LLC. Now that the property won’t be utilized for golf, city engineers are drawing up a trail option along the west side of Lakeview Drive that may include some portions of the former golf course. This “Lakeview Trail Option D” should be ready for review when the city council gets an update on the project on Jan. 16, Caulfield said.
One issue that won’t affect any potential park opening date will be the city’s current study on rerouting the portion of Halls Creek that flows through the property. City officials are looking at rechanneling the creek that currently flows in a straight line from near the clubhouse south to Lake Ballinger to a meandering model near or into existing small lakes on the property. City officials state that the rerouting of the creek would help alleviate some seasonal flooding in the Lake Ballinger watershed and increase the water quality of the lake. The rerouting of the creek “would not have to be made prior to opening the park to the general public,” Caulfield said, adding that the creek project is anticipated to “take time, possibly several years.”