City of Ellensburg Provides Clarification on Craig Avenue Fire Lane and Future Reed Park Master Plan Update
ELLENSBURG, Wash. — To highlight several facts about recent concerns related to City of Ellensburg actions that impact parking and traffic flow on Craig’s Hill, two issues must be addressed: fire lane revisions to comply with International Fire Code and the ongoing Reed Park Master Plan process, currently underway.
1. Fire lane revisions along Craig Avenue are scheduled this month to protect fire access to the American Legion facility. The International Fire Code requires a 20-foot clear lane for the safety of those assembling in the American Legion Hall and other buildings with this type of use. Craig Avenue is the sole public street access road to the historic American Legion facility.
Compliance with International Fire Codes is required for all public and private buildings. After receiving complaints about blocked fire lanes, City staff consulted with the Fire Marshal to delineate the 20-foot required lanes. It was determined the current configuration was insufficient and would require new signs and pavement markings, which would reduce the amount of legal parking stalls along Craig Avenue, near the American Legion. Recognizing this action would reduce on-street parking along the public street where patrons and other Reed Park visitors are accustomed to parking, notice was provided to the American Legion with a proposal to work with their leadership on solutions to retain some legal on-street parking.
A formal letter was sent to the American Legion on June 28, 2023, that provided notice of the City’s future action to clearly mark and protect the fire lane on Craig Avenue. An alternative was proposed by the City to retain several public parking stalls along Craig Avenue if the Legion provided an easement for the City to pave a portion along the edge of the American Legion’s current parking lot. That option was declined on August 8, 2023, by Legion Commander Hill requesting, “the park and parking remain the way it has always been.”
Taking no action to remedy a known fire lane access issue is not an option because of the fire risk it creates for the Legion, nearby homeowners, and the area in general. With no other options available to remedy the 20-foot fire lane protection and delineation, the City must proceed to mark and enforce the legal fire lane. This work will be completed within the next few weeks.
2. Why is the City exploring improvements to Reed Park through a Master Plan process? The City's interest in making changes at Reed Park is to address longstanding concerns from the neighborhood about how the park is used, and to enhance the park experience for all Ellensburg residents. Throughout the planning process—which began in early 2022—City staff have been mindful of the impacts a new park design may have on the community as whole, the surrounding neighborhood, the fairgrounds and rodeo, and the American Legion. Stakeholders from these groups, among others, have participated in shaping the designs and goals of the project.
All proposed Reed Park design options allow for some legal parking along the bluff.
The Reed Park Master Plan has not been adopted. A preferred plan considered by the City Council on March 6, 2023, was returned to the Parks & Recreation Commission for further discussion and evaluation. Since that time, City staff met with American Legion representatives to review their concerns with the draft Park Plan. Staff have also worked with the design consultant to develop revised plan options that shift the balance of interests and flow for vehicular traffic, pedestrian safety, and create several more legal parking spaces along the bluff. A revised plan proposal will be available next month.
The next public open house to review Reed Park Master Plan options is scheduled for October 18, 2023. Members of the public are invited to attend this open house on Wednesday, October 18, 2023, City Hall Council Chambers, 501 N Anderson Street, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. to review previous versions of the Reed Park Master Plan design options and comment on the new hybrid option as well. Community feedback will be incorporated into the Master Plan considered by the City Council later in the year.
The American Legion Hall is an important community facility for our local Veterans. Ellensburg Mayor Nancy Lillquist states, “We hope that the American Legion will continue to serve the community well into the future and appreciate all that our Veterans have done in service to our country. The fire lane safety issues have been brought to our attention by concerned community members and for the safety of those who use the American Legion Hall we cannot allow those parking violations to continue.”
Please visit the City’s website to review proposed Reed Park plans or contact the City Manager’s office for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org or 509-962-7221.
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