Debra Sinick

Kirkland Parkplace and The Trail-Will Kirkland, Washington Win or Lose?

In Exploring Kirkland, Kirkland WA, rails to trails, WA on June 11, 2008 at 11:04 pm

I realized this past week what we in Kirkland, Washington could lose when I was standing in the middle of a new shopping/destination center, Blue Back Square, in my home town, West Hartford, CT.  I was back east for a high school reunion (which could be another complete blog post. Yes, it was only yesterday!)  

West Hartford is a suburb of Connecticut’s capital city, Hartford.  It boasts a wonderful center (it’s never referred to it as downtown) which has reinvented itself over the last 20 years as a destination place.  Growing up, West Hartford Center had a department store, lots of shops, and few restaurants.  We went to the center to shop, not to dine. Today, it’s a hopping, happening place with a multitude of great restaurants, coffee shops, and stores. 

 On a warm summer’s evening, you can find people flocking to the center to walk, have a glass of wine or dinner. Blue Back Square is a recent addition to the center. 

It continues the theme of a community based center.  Stores, restaurants, apartments, and condos are all there.  Community plazas exist for people to sit and have lunch or for the local students to present a concert.  The community feel is such a welcoming feature.

The characterization of the town is very similar to how I view Kirkland, Washington. When I moved out to the Northwest, I immediately fell in love with Kirkland.  It felt like home to me because the town had a soul, a “center”, like West Hartford.   Today both cities have morphed into destination places while, keeping their unique identities and small town flavors intact.

We are poised to lose this soul of our community, the essence and character of Kirkland, if we are not careful in our choices.  We have one of the few towns with that “small town” feel while being close to everything on the eastside and Seattle.  We must preserve this as we grow.  Kirkland should grow and change, but not at the expense of our identity and our community.  Development should enhance the city, the services and amenities available to its citizens.  Development should not be at the expense of Kirkland and only for others who commute to or through the city.

Tomorrow, the 12th of June, more important decisions are being made that will affect Kirkland’s future.  Come to City Hall at 7 PM to hear the latest. Parkplace, Touchstone Corp., is presenting two options to the community:  One is an 8 story office complex with a  myriad of retail outlets, restaurants, and a movie theater.  The other is a 5 story office complex with limited services and opportunities for community involvement.  Whatever Kirkland decides, the community element must not be lost.  Whether there is an 8 story building or a 5 story building, we must not lose our soul, a gathering place for the community or our identity.  What a shame it would be if people flocked to Kirkland to work at Parkplace and left immediately after work to return home.  What a loss it would be if there was no vibrant community life at Parkplace both during the day and at night.

My thoughts continue with the trail possibilities.  An examination of ways to improve transportation is vital to the growing eastside.  However, decisions to improve transportation must be made responsibly.  While analysis is being done, the BNSF corridor should be used as a trail for all the eastside, but particularly for Kirkland.  What a gorgeous, fabulous asset it would be for our community.  A train line would be cost prohibitive with little impact on traffic.  The train line would cut Kirkland neighborhoods off from each other.  Let’s not lose this opportunity, too, to enhance the livability of Kirkland.  Let’s make sure Kirkland is a better place for the people who live here, not just for the people who commute through and work in the city and leave everyday.


  1. […] made my thoughts clear in a previous post on Kirkland’s Parkplace. Posted in Kirkland News, Kirkland WA | Tagged Debra Sinick, Kirkland, Kirkland Parkplace, […]

  2. Hi
    I lived in West Hartford for15 years, 1984 – 1999, I still have a home there, and then I moved to Bellevue WA, right on the Kirkland Redmond line. WH is NO Kirkland!!! At least not to me… Kirkland has the lake, WH doesn’t. K. is close to Seattle, WH is close to Hartford, and there is a slight, (being sarcastic), difference in the cities. K’s weather is moderate, WH’s is extreme, (arctic in the endless winter, and humid and hot in the short summer. The native people of K, WA like all northwesterners are very friendly, WH’s people are the exact opposite… and the last is the biggest difference to me where you speak of the “old town charm” but that is nothing without the attitude of the people which is lacking in the WH and is very beautiful in K, WA.

    Finally, commenting is, by virtue of having this section, is sillisited and not a prevelige, what you do with it is your choice but I will comment as long as there is place for it on this site…

    I now live in the North West and will never go back to the East coast…


    A. Betros

  3. Ammar,

    Thanks for your thoughts. I grew up in West Hartford. It was a great place to grow up and was truly a nice town with a wonderful center which was the soul of the community.

    I think when you grow up in a place you have a different feeling about it. I was born into the community and obviously grew up with quite a few people there. It makes a difference getting to know the people and the community. When I moved to the Northwest as an adult, it took me a long time to get to know people. I think it is pretty typical of many communities.

    This is how I saw the two cities in terms of their centers. I agree with you about the weather and the difference between Hartford and Seattle. Seattle is clearly a much larger, more diverse city than Hartford.

    “When I moved out to the Northwest, I immediately fell in love with Kirkland. It felt like home to me because the town had a soul, a “center”, like West Hartford. Today both cities have morphed into destination places while, keeping their unique identities and small town flavors intact.”

    I loved growing up there, but I love living here mostly for some of the same reasons you mention, the weather, the natural beauty of the area and Seattle.

    thanks again for your comments.

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