Photos by Jerry Gay
Ric Harter may have to leave Gracie home in Mill Creek when Angle Lake Park closes for several months. Harter works at Kiel Mortgage next to the park and they take a walk in the park a couple days a week. Now they’ll have to come up with a Plan B.

SeaTac’s Angle Lake Park closing until summer

Angle Lake Park in SeaTac will close until summer.

According to SeaTac Parks director Kit Ledbetter the park could close for construction as early as Monday, Feb. 25. He said closure signs would be posted at the park, located at 19408 International Blvd. S.

When it reopens in time for SeaTac’s annual International Festival on June 29, the park will sport a new water spray play area.

The play area will also be open in time for the Fourth of July fireworks display on the lake. Lawmakers also have discussed holding an Independence Day carnival on the city-owned Hughes property south of the park.

Parks directors in neighboring cities tell Ledbetter that their water spray features are the most popular summer attractions in their parks.

Ledbetter said in his 35 years as a parks employee, the Angle Lake water spray is one of his top one or two projects.

He predicted that on a warm summer day, the water feature could attract up to 300 children. It will provide families with nonswimmers or young children an alternative to going into the lake at the popular city destination, Ledbetter noted.

The City Council unanimously approved the project on Feb. 12.

Other improvements include two rental picnic shelters, a new pathway system, removal of the old roadway, regrading south of the stage area and a new irrigation system. The contractor is insisting the park be closed for safety reasons because of the extensive construction activity.

Because of budget constraints, the city won’t be able to build a new dock and lifeguard building or make improvements to the boat launch during this phase, according to Ledbetter.

However, because the winning bid came in $375,000 under budget, council members suggested the extra funds could be used to replace the lifeguard building. City staff was directed to draw up a proposal for the additional funds.

Council members had questioned whether the water feature should go to a park that doesn’t already have a lake. The late Councilmember Joe Brennan, who championed the water spray feature, envisioned it in Valley Ridge Park.

But Ledbetter said King County’s health code requires the feature to be within 100 feet of a restroom. Valley Ridge and Sunset parks have restrooms but no adjacent space for the water spray. North SeaTac Park also has a restroom but it is too isolated for safety, according to Ledbetter.

Angle Lake is also centrally located in SeaTac, Ledbetter noted.

Lawmakers had also questioned whether there was a demand from residents for the spray area.

Ledbetter replied that while residents had not been specifically surveyed about the water spray, the city’s parks master plan, which had utilized a citizen survey, found that Angle Lake and Valley Ridge parks were the most visited. Swimming and cultural arts were rated highest among recreation programs, he noted.

Ledbetter also reported the city received 11 bids for the project. Henderson Partners submitted the lowest bid at $1.4 million including contingency and taxes. The winning bid was $375,00 under budget.

Councilmember Dave Bush suggested about $250,000 of the savings could go to replacing the lifeguard building.

Councilmember Rick Forschler asked about replacing the dock.

Ledbetter noted the dock could last another 5-10 years and would be more expensive to replace. Planning and design for a new lifeguard building could be completed by July or August, he noted.

Deputy Mayor Mia Gregerson suggested looking at what pending projects in other departments could be funded with the extra money.

Councilmember Terry Anderson questioned whether there would be enough parking in the redesigned park.

Ledbetter said about one-third of the park will be devoted to parking. He noted the park is on the International Boulevard bus route. Also overflow parking is available on weekends and special events at Alaska Air Lines headquarters next to the park.

Ledbetter also reported the city will save up to $50,000 by buying the water spray equipment directly from Waterplay Solutions Corp., the firm selected to build the spray play area.

Council members also granted an easement from the park’s main road to a planned hotel, south of the park.

The council had previously approved the easement in 2009 for a proposed Residence Inn. However, because of economic factors, building permits were not issued and the agreement ended in 2011.

Ariel Development, the same developer as before, was seeking a new access easement for a Hyatt Place in the same location.

The developer was asking for use of the traffic-signaled South 195th Street that leads into the park. There would be a driveway and fire access road from the park to the eastern portion of the hotel.

In exchange, the developer will allow the city to build a pedestrian trail in front of the hotel along the lake. The developer will also pay the city $32,000. These are the same conditions approved in 2009.

Economic development director Jeff Robinson assured lawmakers the trail would remain even if the hotel closes.

The proposed hotel would have 150 rooms. Developers estimate the hotel would employ 60-70 fulltime employees as well as a number of part-time workers.

We encourage our readers to comment. No registration is required. We ask that you keep your comments free of profanity and keep them civil. They are moderated and objectionable comments will be removed.