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Maury park could soon get a facelift

This aging but historic pier is within months of being torn down, over the objections of divers. - File photo
This aging but historic pier is within months of being torn down, over the objections of divers.
— image credit: File photo

t A $7,500 grant will pay for signage, trail work and more.

Maury Island Marine Park, a King County park made up of 320 primitive acres and the adjaccent marine sanctuary on the eastern side of Maury Island, could soon be improved in several ways, thanks to the vision and dedication of a small group of Islanders.

They’ve formed a group called Friends of Maury Park, held meetings to discuss their aspirations for the park and nearly secured a $7,500 grant from the county to complete projects at the park, which was the Klinkers Gravel Pit before the county purchased it.

Projects that the county grant would pay for include installation of picnic tables and benches, signs and maps highlighting the park’s trails, improvement of the trails and ecological restoration. The work would be done by volunteers who think the park could be so much more than it is.

Today, it has no facilities or signage. Visitors must walk past a closed gate on to an unmaintained road that eventually leads to a gorgeous vista and an unspoiled stretch of beach. But the handful of Islanders who use the park say few know it’s there.

“We want to let people know this park exists and that they can use the park even though the gate is closed,” said Karlista Rickerson, a member of Friends of Maury Park and an avid diver off the Maury dock. “Horseback riders use it; hikers use it. We do have interest from the kayakers. We’re finding there are other users than just the people who walk down the trails.”

The grant from King County will hopefully expose Maury Regional Park to Islanders, said Adam Atwell, another member of the new friends group.

“It’s a wonderful place; it’s a little jewel of 300 acres and a lot of beachfront,” Atwell said. “It’s a fabulous park that almost no one visits.”

Rickerson and John Gerstle, a fellow Friends member, wrote the grant proposal to the county. But because the Friends of Maury Park is not a recognized nonprofit, the group could not be the recipient of the grant.

Instead, Gerstle and Rickerson asked Vashon Park District to be the recipient of the King County grant on its behalf.

At a June 24 park board meeting, Wendy Braicks, executive director of the park district, explained the arrangement among the county, the park district and the Friends of Maury Park this way:

“The county will just give us the money. We’ll put it into a fundraising account, and we’ll pay the bills” for projects the Maury Park volunteers complete, she said.

“A lot of groups — we’re their bankers,” said David Hackett, park district board chair.

“As soon as the (park) board approves this, it’s a done deal,” Gerstle said.

He said the reason King County has been eager to approve the grant for Maury Park is that the changes that will be made to the rustic park are in the county’s interest as well as Islanders’.

“This is a rational way to work on the park for a low cost,” he said.

Gerstle added that the grant is on a two-year cycle; if the county approves of the work done in the first two years, the grant could be renewed and the Friends of Maury Park could have another $7,500 to work with in 2010.

“It’s a mile-long beach; it’s a neat parcel,” Gerstle said.

Meanwhile, those who come to the park primarily to enjoy its aquatic life have been fighting the county’s decision to remove the historic dock there within six months.

The county says the dock is in disrepair and that its creasote-covered pilings are leaching carcinogens into Puget Sound. But divers say the dock, much like an artifical reef, provides marine habitat. Upon the dock’s removal, much of the sea life that divers come to the marine park to observe will seek other homes.

Rickerson said she’s hoping to replace the marine habitat, but because of the area’s protected status, it may be difficult.

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