When I started researching this column about the history of parks in our community, I imagined I would tell you about Port Blakely and the City of Issaquah setting aside more than 1500 acres for open space and parks. Or that we have 28 parks, even one big City park with lighted sports fields. But as I looked through pictures to include with the article, I discovered that the parks mean so much more to me than stats and locations. Our neighborhood parks have been a major character in my family’s story.
When we moved to Issaquah Highlands with three young children and a fourth to come, we knew that they would need more space to play than the 1900 square feet we could afford. We found the perfect house that bordered a pocket park, or shared yard, and just a block from Kirk Park. In the early days, if the kids were bouncing off the walls, Paul would assign laps around the pocket park. They would happily go outside, run their laps and return…or get distracted by other neighbor kids and stay to play in the park.
We also took family walks to Kirk and Grandview Parks. As the kids got older, they could play on the play equipment while Paul and I walked the gravel trail.
When we wanted to play H-O-R-S-E we simply walked up to the basketball court in Magnolia Park. Or, for tennis we took rackets and balls to Black Nugget Park.
One warm Memorial Day we didn’t have any plans, so we packed a picnic and walked to Central Park. After sandwiches and popsicles, we played whiffle ball on the baseball field. Lizzie chased the ball while Paul pitched to the older kids.
I also remember a time we convinced the kids that Kathy’s Trial was a short-cut to their Aunt and Uncle’s house in Ashland Park. It was a little more primitive than we were expecting as we climbed over fallen trees and walked on planks over standing water. It took much longer than if we had stayed on the sidewalks but was an adventure we won’t forget. That trail became a favorite place for Nathan and his friends in middle school.
When Lizzie was in preschool, I babysat a boy her age. They loved playing at the parks close by, but the Firehouse Park was Blake’s favorite. When we stopped and played at that park, there was a chance the fire trucks would be out being cleaned and he could visit them.
I love living in a place where outdoor recreation can be found in every neighborhood. The Highlands is unique in its quantity and variety of parks and trails. Port Blakely and the City of Issaquah purposefully planned the Highlands as a community with lots of common space, play space, and natural beauty to draw people out of their homes to create memories with their families and connections with each other.
This is part 5 of a 7 part series about the history of Issaquah Highlands, conceived and produced by volunteer writer and resident, Kathryn Dean, to help celebrate Issaquah Highlands’ 20 year anniversary. The first residents moved into their homes in September 1998.