The city of Auburn plans to build a community park at 104th Avenue Southeast along the Green River to expand and create safe public access to the river for water-based recreation activities. COURTESY PHOTO, Washington State Recreation and Conservation

The city of Auburn plans to build a community park at 104th Avenue Southeast along the Green River to expand and create safe public access to the river for water-based recreation activities. COURTESY PHOTO, Washington State Recreation and Conservation

Community park along the river

City receives $500,000 state grant to build a 14.73-acre community park at 104th Avenue Southeast along the Green River

For decades, the beach at the bend was a gathering place for river bums and assorted denizens of the Green River.

But for neighbors forced to contend with the noise and problems, and for motorists threading their way past the dozens of cars whose owners had parked them haphazardly on the west shoulder of 104th Street to get to the spot, it was a nightmare.

Well, that was then.

Last week, the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Funding Board announced that the city of Auburn would be on the receiving end of a $500,000 grant to help build a 14.73-acre community park at the site at 104th Avenue Southeast, about a quarter mile north of Porter’s Bridge.

“We’re excited about developing a site that is often used by local residents and at the same time, taking care of the dangerous parking situation along 104th Street,” said Daryl Faber, director of the city of Auburn’s Parks, Arts and Recreation Department.

Construction should begin in 2020.

Plans call for a 34-stall parking lot, improved access to the river, a .68-mile soft-surface trail that loops through the site, and added park amenities, such as a picnic shelter, an interpretive kiosk, signs, a drinking fountain and a restroom. The project will also remove invasive plants and replant native species.

Development of the park also will help alleviate unauthorized activities at the site that harm the environment and the surrounding communities.

The grant is part of $126 million the state has awarded to 333 projects throughout Washington that build and maintain outdoor recreation facilities and conserve wildlife habitat and working farms and forests.

Auburn’s project was among $13.4 million awarded to projects in King County alone.

The total project cost is estimated at $1,126,251, and Auburn will contribute $626,251 it has accumulated over the years in park impact fees. Those are the fees that developers pay during construction to cover the estimated impact of their projects on schools, streets, parks and other urban amenities.

The 2015 Auburn Parks & Recreation Open Space Plan identified the site as a top priority for development. The city acquired the proposed future park site from Washington State Parks (seven-plus acres) and King County (7-plus acres) with the condition that the property be protected as a parkland in perpetuity.

King County transferred the western parcel to the city via an intergovernmental land transfer agreement more than 10 years ago, and the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission later transferred the eastern portion.

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ROBERT WHALE, Auburn Reporter
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