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Wednesday, November 26, 1997 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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New Parks, Ballfields To Grace Issaquah -- `Grand Ridge Park' To Link Issaquah Plateau, Greenway

Seattle Times Eastside Bureau

ISSAQUAH

Hikers will have a new oasis of trails and trees to roam through because of a deal aimed at preserving open space between a large developer here and local government jurisdictions.

King County Executive Ron Sims yesterday accepted a 1,250-acre parcel of land donated by Port Blakely Communities, the developer of Issaquah Highlands (formerly Grand Ridge) on the eastern edge of the city.

In addition to that, Port Blakely gave the city of Issaquah 275 acres of land, about 100 of which will be used for parks and ballfields.

As part of a compromise to develop a major subdivision on the rural side of the urban growth boundary, Port Blakely agreed to donate the large tracts of land for public use. It's an example, say county officials, of King County's 4 to 1 program - for every acre of land Port Blakely develops, four acres will be kept as park land.

Named "Grand Ridge Park," the 1,250-acre tract is the fourth-largest park in the county's park system. The tract stretches from north of Issaquah near the bottom of Duthie Hill Road south to Interstate 90.

County officials say it will be a major regional trail-connection linking the Issaquah Plateau to the Mountains-to-Sound Greenway, a project intended to connect the region's large patches of open space. The largest is Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park, which has 2,962 acres.

The county plans to offer tours of the wildlife in the new park, said Al Dams, King County Parks and Recreation Department spokesman.

Issaquah will also get much-needed land for new ballfields. Flooding in recent years has turned many of its existing fields into sludge.

County officials and the developers are eager to see how the 4 to 1 program works out at the Issaquah Highlands.

"It'll be a lesson on how well urban villages can work," said Judd Kirk, president of Port Blakely Communities.

"Our job was to try and find the right balance, given the competing interests," he said.

When completed, Issaquah Highlands will have 3,500 homes on about 2,000 acres of land. About 30 percent of the development would be affordable housing.

Putsata Reang's phone message number is 206-515-5629. Her e-mail address is: prea-new@seatimes.com

Copyright (c) 1997 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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