The event featured the grand opening of the Chainline Brewing Company's "Chainline Station," featured inside a railroad caboose. (Photo by author)

Eastside residents, elected officials, and business leaders gathered yesterday evening to celebrate the reopening of Feriton Spur Park in Kirkland. The northern portion of the park had been closed for the last year as Google’s Kirkland campus underwent further development. Its reopening marks another key addition to Eastrail, a 42-mile right of way that, when fully complete, will provide people walking, biking, and rolling with connections to Renton, Bellevue, Kirkland, Snohomish, and Redmond.

The newly expanded park contains a regulation-size pickleball court, a grassy amphitheater, a splash area, and a community garden operated by Seattle Urban Farm Company. Food from the garden is to be regularly donated to Hopelink, a nonprofit working to reduce poverty in King and Snohomish counties. Immediately adjacent to the garden is Chainline Station, a new location for Chainline Brewing Company that hearkens back to the corridor’s previous function as a key industrial railway. Alcohol is served out of an old Northwest Pacific Railway caboose, and visitors can imbibe inside the rail car or outside in the expansive beer garden, which has been modeled to look like a train station.

Kirkland Mayor Penny Sweet marked the occasion by welcoming the organizations who had contributed to the park’s development, as well as by acknowledging the elected officials from nearby jurisdictions who were in attendance.

“I believe this occasion is an opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the spirit of collaboration that has developed and continues to grow among Google, SRM, and the city for the enhancement of our community,” Sweet said. To Bellevue Councilmembers in the crowd, she had a slight dig: “They’re really jealous this evening.” Unlike Bellevue, whose Eastrail portions are owned by King County and Sound Transit, Kirkland chose to purchase its trail segments in 2011 and has since been implementing its vision for the corridor through regular improvements. Much of Eastrail in Bellevue, especially in the Wilburton neighborhood, is still composed of dilapidated rail tracks.

King County Council Chair Claudia Balducci, formerly the Mayor of Bellevue, acknowledged Kirkland’s leadership on the region’s rail-to-trail conversion. “We didn’t join in early. We did not have the vision in Bellevue that Kirkland did. But this is an inspiration,” Balducci said. “I’m proud to be here on behalf of King County where our vision for this entire 42-miles rails to trails conversion was born. Together with city partners like Kirkland, Bellevue, and Redmond, we’re creating a major active transportation superstructure, where you will be able to get out of your car and get out on foot or bike…People will come from all over to enjoy what we enjoy in our own backyard.”

Elected officials from multiple cities join with Eastrail Partners Executive Director Katherine Hollis on the amphitheater stage. (Photo by author)

Paco Galanes, Google’s Site Lead, shared, “We are very proud of our partnership with the city to bring this new park here for all the people in Kirkland. We call Kirkland our home, and we hope to keep growing here.” Earlier this year, Google opened two new buildings at the nearby Kirkland Urban site, with two more to come in the next few years. Dave Thompson of SRM Development, the company behind the Feriton Spur project, pointed out the uniqueness of the trail-oriented park and introduced Amber Mikluscak, the artist contracted to complete a sculpture for the amphitheater. Parts were taken from the Kalakala, a ferry that operated on Puget Sound in the mid-20th century, and restored to create a colorful piece that’s over fifteen feet tall.

The sculpture forms a natural frame around the amphitheater stage. (Photo by author)

Feriton Park may be a unique gem in trail-oriented development on the Eastside, but the goal is for it to not be the only example for long. Special care is being given during the Wilburton rezone process in Bellevue to support trail-oriented development that will hopefully create similar community spaces in the growing neighborhood. During an interview earlier this year, Executive Director of Eastrail Partners Katherine Hollis shared her thoughts on the placemaking possibilities of Eastrail in the Wilburton area. “I think the Wilburton segment of Eastrail is unique in that it’s the most city-center section of the trail. When we think about what trail-oriented development can be…and how we want to think about Eastrail being more than a trail, that’s going to start in the Wilburton area.”

When asked how the possibilities in Wilburton compared with those created by the (then upcoming) Feriton Spur Park, Hollis chuckled, “Oh we’re doing more in Wilburton.” For fans of community-oriented placemaking around trails, those improvements can’t come soon enough.

Article Author

Chris is a UW Environmental Sciences graduate who moved to Bellevue in 2015. When he's not busy being an urbanist fox on the internet, he's working on the Eastside to support efforts reducing greenhouse gas emissions and going to city council meetings to denounce the hegemony of automobile infrastructure. Follow him on Twitter at @Deutski1.