Hicks Lake barbecue brings together neighbors, community activists

Story and photos by Deanie Schwarz
Reporting for White Center Now

A picnic with free barbecue brought out a hungry and hardy crowd to enjoy Hicks Lake at Lakewood Park on a slightly chilly Saturday afternoon. Smoke billowed from burgers on the grills as neighborhood folks milled around the tables to chat and learn about where things now stand with Lakewood Park and where they might be headed.

Frana Milan, program manager for the Enterprise and Partnerships Unit of King County Parks and Recreation Division (pictured above with civilian-attired King County Sheriff’s Office community officer Vary Jackson), was available to receive first hand the feedback from the community about the proposed trail improvement around the north and west side of the lake.

In a conversation with community members, Milan explained the different responsibilities for different county agencies discussing the future plans for Hicks Lake and the surrounding natural systems. It is the Water and Land Resources Division within the Department of Natural Resources and Parks that addresses the stormwater management issues and has lake-ecosystem experts on staff.

Milan explained further, “I always like to say that Water and Land takes care of nature for nature’s sake and Parks takes care of nature for people’s sake.” A map was available to instruct the picnicgoers and the other groups present about the complex context of neighboring stormwater systems, wetlands and lakes.

North Highline Unincorporated Area Council president Christine Waldman led a large contingency from the North Highline group working their way through the tables. She observed that Friends of Hicks Lake‘s Dick Thurnau had successfully brought together for the first time these varied groups which can together face a long-standing problem which they all agree must be addressed. “It’s been long enough. Something really needs to be done.”

Thurnau’s passion for the Hicks Lake area is legendary around here. Many other group representatives nodded and spoke in agreement about the need for some kind of formal recognition for the tireless decades of volunteer work he has done on behalf of the area. His two daughters were on hand assisting him in his work during Saturday’s event. One had flown up from California to help him with the coordination and planning because, she says, “It is so important to him.” Dick, along with Sherry Williams (with him in the photo above), enjoyed the crowd’s anticipation as they drew raffle tickets for a much desired prize of smoked sockeye salmon. A number of other items were raffled off as well to some lucky picnicgoers.

Williams is deputy director of TAF (Technology Access Foundation) and said the groundbreaking for the new TAF Community Learning Space is still on track for next April, with completion of the “warm shell” by the following fall of 2011. To be located in the northeast quadrant of Lakewood Park, the building will be built green and developed in phases following the initial structural development. ( The term “warm shell” describes the future large building edifice and its completed systems, but does not include specific classroom equipment or furnishings.)

Additional feedback on plans for Lakewood Park, Hicks Lake and/or surrounding parks can be provided to the county through this website: parksfeedback.com.

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