LYNDEN — Lynden has new park land on its hands, and locals have diverse opinions regarding what to do with it.
Lynden Mayor Scott Korthuis presided over a town hall-style meeting Thursday evening at the Lynden City Hall Annex, and local residents turned out to provide their thoughts on future uses of the park.
Korthuis displayed two maps of the property, one of which shows the basic layout of the space, which includes a house and a trail, along with the large Forest Conservation Area.
Korthuis said he thinks of the park like an in-city version of Berthusen Park because the way the city came to own the land, but noted that it’s about the size of Lynden City Park. The land totals to about 8.8 acres of mostly wooded land, and the Lynden Regional Parks and Recreational District led a $3 million bond proposal in 2019 so the city can build trails on the land and develop the park.
One resident who lives near the land, which is located off south Double Ditch Road, said his main concerns are safety and parking. He lives on Fishtrap Lane and said that traffic, trash, people and cars are already appearing in the area.
“I don’t want a drivable entrance on that street,” he said. “It’s a dead-end street. It’s a peaceful street.”
Lynden resident Diane Veltkamp suggested that, instead of putting a parking area in the park, the city should consider using the parking already in place at Christ the King church.
“Has there been any thought given to the fact that on the south side there’s already a huge parking lot that is used by Christ the King but most of the time it’s empty?” She asked.
Korthuis said this was part of why the city called the meeting.
“I appreciate that because that’s a creative solution to the problem,” he said.
One resident asked if the goal is to put in covered areas, such as a kitchen, and Korthuis said that’s not the plan and reiterated that there isn’t actually a plan in place at this time, aside from using the space to continue the Jim Kaemingk Sr. Trail through it.
Local resident G. Todd Williams said there’s actually little land to be used in the park, as much of it has been set aside as a Forest Conservation Area.
“My point at the meeting was, regardless of cars or not, let’s keep our eye on the ball and get Kaemingk through,” Williams said.
Korthuis said at the meeting that the trail west of Depot Road to Eighth should go in next year.
“I don’t see room for cars to park inside the park. Maybe we don’t allow cars inside,” Williams said. “The neighbors still won’t be happy with cars parking on Fishtrap.”
Teacher Harlan Kredit was present at the meeting, and he said he’s glad the community is invested in what ends up happening in Dickinson Park.
“I am thrilled by the number of people that are who that cares bout a natural area in our town,” Kredit said. “This just warms my heart to do this.”
Hannah Newell, program lead with the Whatcom Coalition for Environmental Educators, said her goal is to spread environmental education opportunities across the county. There’s an obvious focus on the Bellingham School District because of its location, and her goal is to spread the word farther.
Newell said this week she is touring Dickinson Park with Lynden teachers to educate them about the space so they can use it to teach students.
“They’re really excited about the opportunity to access this park,” Newell said.