By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News
Want more top stories? Sign up here for daily or weekly newsletters with our top news.
Questions still remain, however, over how the proposed renovation of the 147-acre Lincoln Park would be paid for and how the planned removal of its tall fir trees and park revegetation would be handled.
The city Parks, Recreation and Beautification Commission voted 5-1 at its Thursday meeting to recommend the Lincoln Park master plan, subject to negotiations between city staff and the Port of Port Angeles over how trees will be removed from the park.
A final decision on exactly how many trees will be removed has not been made, said Corey Delikat, parks and recreation director.
The decision ultimately will be up to the City Council, he said.
The Port of Port Angeles and the Federal Aviation Administration have pressed for the removal of park trees that grow into the eastern approach to the port-owned William R. Fairchild International Airport, which lies just west of the park.
About 1,300 feet of the airport’s 6,347-foot-long main runway is blocked from use because of the trees immediately to the east.
Separate from the issue of removing the trees, Delikat said he’s glad City Council members will be presented with a plan he thinks is in line with most of what the community wants for Lincoln Park.
“Regardless of whatever happens out there, we have a plan for Lincoln Park,” Delikat said.
The removed trees would be replaced with ground-level vegetation and different species of trees that do not grow as tall as the existing ones, according to the master plan.
First phase proposal
At Thursday’s meeting, Juliet Vong, president of Seattle-based HBB Landscape Architects and the contracted designer for the Lincoln Park master plan, presented a proposed first phase of park improvements that Vong said was reorganized from the initial first phase to focus on park changes could be more easily maintained with existing city staffing.
The first phase of improvements, which Vong estimated to cost $14.3 million, focuses on the entry area to the park off Lauridsen Boulevard and includes upgraded parking areas, a new trail system, ballfields and the estimated cost of tree removal and revegetation.
Vong made clear, however, that the city still needs to seek funding opportunities for all the park improvements.
“There is absolutely no guarantee of funding for any of this right now,” Vong said.
Parks Commissioner Fowler Stratton, who voted against the recommendation, expressed concern that the city would spend too much on the first-phase improvements and not able to fund upgrades to the east side of the park.
Delikat said the central portion of the park would include many of the most-asked-for upgrades, those that the Parks and Recreation Department is most able to take care of now.
“What I want to do is focus on what I can maintain,” Delikat said.
Nathan West, community and economic development director, added that city efforts to improve Lincoln Park will not stop at the first phase.
“By no means have we given up on the whole park,” West said at the meeting, “but at this time, it’s really important to communicate what we think will be the best first option for moving forward.”
Concerns over cost and the tree-removal portion of the park plan historically have drawn the strongest criticism from residents and were expressed by a handful at Thursday’s meeting.
Lois Danks, who has lived adjacent to Lincoln Park for 25 years, said she’s concerned that the final plan could be left unfinished if the city runs out of funds.
“That’s my worry about it,” Danks said.
Devon Graywolf told commissioners she thought the port’s support of the tree-removal portion of plan could lead to the international airport eventually expanding into the western portion of Lincoln Park.
“The port is attempting a complete takeover of the park by destroying 4,000 trees,” Graywolf said.
Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.