Update: April 12, 9 p.m., Scott Chreist sent the following to Patch to clarify horse adaptability to the presence of ziplines and how much the county could receive in revenue if the project is approved. The county could receive as much as $160,000 annually from the project. He added that they expect about 40,000 visitors to the zipline park, not all the tourists that come to Woodinville. Regarding the compatibility of equestrians and ziplines, Chreist wrote, "Through training, familiarization, and public education the facilities we'd spoken with said that their horses had adapted well to the zipline operations.
Will Gold Creek Park become Woodinville’s own Ewok village or will it remain a rural, undeveloped open space in Hollywood Hill?
That is the question that King County will need to answer as it moves forward with plans to allow a local adventure park operator to create a zipline facility at the 38-acre site that houses the Boys and Girls Club in Woodinville.
Gravityworks LLC, the same folks that have operated the Adventura rope course next to Redhook Brewery for the past decade, are hoping to build a state-of-the-art zipline adventure in the heavily wooded park, aiming to attract some the 350,000 tourists that come to Woodinville for the wineries every year, as well as locals.
The proposed adventure park (see PDF) would include 12 ziplines, a lodge (the old Boys and Girls Club building would be remodeled) and gift shop, maintenance building, and a shuttle service from at least two winery locations, according to Scott Chreist, co-owner of Gravityworks and company director of Adventura.
Even before a formal plan for the zipline adventure park has been sent to the county for approval, residents of Hollywood Hill have formed a group and started a petition to stop the development. The Preserve Gold Creek Park group is worried that development of the park will mean the loss of an urban rarity: a nature reserve inside a second growth forest that has been left alone long enough to begin to exhibit mature forest characteristics, as described by residents.
“It’s all about perspective isn’t it?” said Valentina Giovannetti, Hollywood Hill resident and organizer of the Preserve Gold Creek Park group. “Someone in the Parks Department views the unspoiled wildness of Gold Creek Park and sees an opportunity to partner with a commercial operation to build an adventure park with ziplines crisscrossing its entire 38 acres of forested hills and valleys in the heart of King County. ... They smell welcome income from licensing the park to outfitters who will package groups of excitement-seekers.”
The opposition group has a Facebook page and has started an online petition to stop the development of Gold Creek Park, citing, among other concerns, the effect noise would have on equestrians using the trails if the zipline plan goes forward.
The proposed adventure park is part of the King County Parks Department’s business plan “to cultivate strong relationships with non-profit, corporate and community partner(s) to enhance park amenities for King County residents while leveraging taxpayers' dollars.” Partnership between the Parks Department and private or nonprofit organizations was started in 2002 in an effort to relieve the county of some of the costs of operating and maintaining the 250,000-acre parks system, according to the county.
Chreist said his company looked at many parks in King County and settled on Gold Creek because of its proximity to Woodinville’s Tourist District and the success at operating the rope course and adventure park next to Redhook. He estimates the county would receive about $160,000 in revenue from the for-profit zipline venture.
Zipline adventure parks are becoming increasingly popular in the United States, with most parks located in the East and Southeast. Put the phrase “zipline tree canopy” in Google and you’ll get thousands of hits describing zipline tours across the globe.
Chreist said he and his partner, Scott Andrews (who operates a zipline in Bellevue), understand people’s concerns about the plans for Gold Creek being compatible with horseback riders and hikers, but added that those issues have been overcome in developments elsewhere in the nation.
“We’re two local guys wanting to build a new business in Woodinville, we’re not trying to pull a fast one on anybody,” he said