New Town Center Plan underway in Lake Forest Park

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Aerial view courtesy City of Lake Forest Park

By Donna Hawkey

Lake Forest Park Mayor Jeff Johnson said, “This is the most important thing that has ever happened to this City.” A comprehensive yet fast-track system approach is being utilized in designing a new Lake Forest Park Town Center/ Central Subarea Plan. Up to $450,000 in budget amendment items were just recently awarded to outside City service providers to produce such a plan in record time.

What’s the hurry for? The Sound Transit Rapid time line work is creating a huge push for Seattle and the involved surrounding cities.

Deputy Mayor Catherine Stanford said, “We are not the time drivers on this one.” 

ST 3 Bus Rapid Transit corridor along SR 522
between 145th Street Link Light Rail Station
and Cascadia College
Graphic courtesy City of Lake Forest Park

The Central Subarea Plan will have to take into account the ST 3 Bus Rapid Transit corridor along SR 522 between Cascadia College and the 145th Street LINK Light Rail station. A framework of the plan is due by December 15, 2017 so that the City does not have something imposed upon them by Sound Transit, if they don’t meet their deadlines.

Citizen input work sessions will start to take place soon. Some of the community input so far is for a commuter parking garage, affordable housing, and a possible community center.

Councilmember John Wright said, “We only have one chance to get this right.” 

A Lake Forest Park Steering Committee selected two firms to get this integrated work done right for the community. City Staff and the City Council will be closely involved, too. The public engagement process and the importance of finding ways to have “meaningful conversations” with the citizens as per Councilmember John Resha, was a serious discussion.

Residents living near the Town Center area have expressed their concerns to the City Council and Councilmember Wright firmly reminded his colleagues of that at a meeting last month.

City Council urges all citizens to watch for and attend any upcoming meetings regarding these all important and very involved processes that will also represent a 50-year planning vision for the commercial core of Lake Forest Park.

Deputy Mayor Stanford describes the firms selected as taking on “holistic views” for this City planning. This open and broad thinking approach was also supported by other City Council members.

The firm Makers Architecture and Urban Design, will be responsible for the public engagement process and members of the LFP Steering Committee said they also liked them because they did not come in with any preconceived notions of what the final plan could look like.

Lake Forest Park Town Center
Photo by Steven H. Robinson

In this holistic described process, Makers will also consider the health of the City’s streams, creeks and the parks. Any transportation mobility work done within the City’s Safe Streets / Safe Highways projects will be considered as well and they will work closely with the Merlone Geier Partners who own the largest portion of the Town Center land.

The broad thinking concept, the overlaps in integration needs, the pace and complexity of the timing constraints, and a City Staff already considered overloaded with work, moved the City Council to also hiring a project management firm.

Shiels Obletz Johnsen will provide direct oversight to Makers through a project manager function. In this overseeing capacity, a project manager will look across all aspects of the projects to make sure all the pieces that need to interrelate happen as needed and on time.

Also, a project management oversight service can help identify any further collaboration possibilities, or other innovative new ideas can emerge which could otherwise be lost in day-to-day work schedules. Lake Forest Park would not be in a position to hire this kind of skill and expertise within a typical City work plan, said Councilmember Resha.

Washington State also wants the City’s culvert projects to be completed by 2019, so aggressive timing for all these large projects have created the need to plan quicker than ever in the City of Lake Forest Park’s history.

The detailed recent discussions can be heard by listening to the City Council videos dated August 22 and September 14, 2017 found on the city's website - agendas are now linked to the videos so you can listen to just the part you are interested in.

Donna Hawkey is a LFP resident and can be reached via


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