Sunrise Tower: A Proposal for Sammamish

First published in the Sammamish Review, 14 July 2016, page 4, under the title “A tower for scenic views could become local attraction.” Also published on the Sammamish Review website on 12 July 2016. Originally written 8 July 2016.

I like to think of Sammamish as the “sunrise city” of the greater Seattle area. We’re at the sunrise edge of the Eastside’s built-up urban area. And you’d think, since we live on a plateau, that we’d have great views of both sunrises and sunsets. Maybe your home happens to have a great view, but we have few places on the plateau where views are possible for everyone. And certainly nowhere with a good view in all directions.

         So I have an idea, one that might attract visitors to Sammamish—and would surely be an iconic structure for our town. That’s to build a tower, perhaps on or near the City Hall campus. I’d make it tall enough to allow views over the trees at Skyline High School so we can see the mountains and the sunrises. As a bonus, it would have great views in all directions, of Rainier to the south and Mt. Baker to the north, not to mention west over Lake Sammamish toward Bellevue, Seattle, and the Olympics beyond. I’m not talking about a new Space Needle, but a more modest tower with stairs to the top, although more glorified than a fire-lookout. Yes, it would cost money, but what an attraction it could be.

         One tower that might serve as a model is the Astoria Column in Astoria, Oregon, which is decorated with historic artwork celebrating Lewis and Clark heritage. It’s 125 feet tall, and was built in 1926. It’s much more elaborate than a fire-lookout tower, and perhaps more than we might need, but who knows? Another example is North Viewpoint at Little Mountain Park in Mount Vernon, Washington. This structure extends horizontally rather than vertically, but perhaps there’s a good place for a viewpoint platform like this on a Sammamish hilltop that could provide views at least to the east or west, such as somewhere near the top parking lot at Evans Creek Preserve.

        Of course, this idea raises questions, and I don’t have all the answers. How much would it cost? How would it be paid for? Should this viewing tower charge an admission fee? (I hope not.) Where could it be placed, and could adequate parking be provided? What zoning issues might need to be overcome, if any? How could the tower be made safe? Despite these questions, I hope this idea might interest others. Nothing’s possible if you don’t first imagine it. Photographs from this vantage point would surely help to promote Sammamish. This tower, which might be called the Sunrise Tower, or the Sammamish Tower, would be a go-to thing to do in Sammamish, not just for residents but for tourists, too. Next time you had friends or relatives visiting from out of town, you could take them to the tower to enjoy the view. And what a view it would surely be—and imagine the sunrises and sunsets. Would you be interested in a tower such as this?

Michael Dylan Welch has been a Sammamish resident for 13 years.