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Seattle Parks and Recreation

The View From Denny Park

News and Views From The Superintendent
No. 19 September 20, 2001
A periodic electronic newsletter about Parks and Recreation news, programs, projects and events from Seattle Parks and Recreation Superintendent Ken Bounds

PEOPLE SEEK PARKS AT A TIME OF TRAGEDY

In times of national tragedy, people often seek comfort and communion in parks and public places. This has never been more true than in the last 10 days. Union Square Park is located just north of the New York City area evacuated after last week's terror attacks, and has become the site of a makeshift memorial to victims with mini-posters of the missing, flowers, candles, paintings, and thousands of candles. It's also become an important gathering place for people to share experiences and comfort each other. In Brooklyn, just across the East River from downtown, New Yorkers flock to waterfront parks.

Seattle parks, too, have provided places for tears of mourning and joyful celebration alike. One hundred twenty years ago this month, in September 1881, 4,000 Seattle residents gathered in Occidental Square-later called Pioneer Square-to mourn the death of President James A. Garfield.

Since then, people have come together in our parks to pray, celebrate, debate, cry, embrace and rejoice. These special places help us heal ourselves after a great misfortune or actualize our joy at the end of a war or a sports victory.

Last week, Seattleites turned out in large numbers at places such as

* Westlake Park, to mark Friday's National Day of Remembrance;
* Seattle Center, for a moving flower vigil at the International Fountain;
* Alki Beach Park, where people laid flowers, poems, candles and other mementos at the foot of the miniature Statue of Liberty;
* Meadowbrook Community Center, for a neighborhood day of remembrance; and
* Golden Gardens, Gas Works Park, Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Park for various other vigils and ceremonies.

Others took quiet walks in their neighborhood park or green space.

Even in the age of cell phones and cyber communication, people have returned to a more fundamental and traditional form of communication and solace.


VIGILANCE AGAINST HATE

A Sikh American employee of Seattle Parks and Recreation relayed to me the news of an alarming rise in harassment and hate crimes against the Sikh community in Seattle and across the country in an apparent backlash against Arabs, Muslims--and anyone who looks like them. One Sikh man has been shot dead in Arizona, after being mistaken as a Muslim. The American Friends Service Committee has reported hundreds of incidents of harassment and violence against Arab Americans, Muslims and mosques. This is racism pure and simple. Sikhs, who are neither Muslim or of Arab descent, share the horror and grief of their fellow Americans at the events of last week.

We cannot tolerate the targeting of a particular ethnic group, nationality or religion in this way. All of us must be vigilant and speak out against mindless hate and prejudice.


TEEN PROGRAM LEADERS

Seattle Parks and Recreation teen programs got a major boost with the hiring this month of 22 full-time Teen Development Leaders, funded by the Pro Parks Levy. We now have a teen leader at each of our 24 community centers. They will develop a wide variety of new programs for teens, focusing on arts, the environment, sports, and life skills. For more information on teen programs, please contact Dave Gilbertson, Seattle Parks and Recreation, at (206) 684-7136, or dave.gilbertson@seattle.gov

PERGOLA CONSTRUCTION SET TO BEGIN

Parks staff and contractors have begun to prepare the construction site for the return of the historic Pergola, the Pioneer Square monument that toppled in a heap when a large truck struck one of its supports last January.

The work will involve installing additional concrete footings and steel supports. An interior steel skeleton, being built to support the outer cast-iron structure, will add significantly more weight--and structural integrity--to the Pergola. Pioneer Square park will be closed while construction is under way. Parks staff are working with local merchants to minimize construction impacts to the neighborhood. We estimate that the Pergola will reopen by March 2002.


WE NEED YOUR COMMENTS

There's still time to comment on the update of the Joint Athletics Facilities Development Program. Two public meetings remain: tonight, September 20, 6:30 p.m., at Jefferson Community Center, 3801 Beacon Ave. S. and next Tuesday, September 25, 6:30 p.m., at the South Lake Union Park Armory, 860 Terry Ave. N. If you can't make the meetings and want to submit your comments in writing, please send them to Alix Ogden, Seattle Parks and Recreation, 100 Dexter Ave. N., Seattle, WA 980109, or alix.ogden@seattle.gov or fax: (206) 233-7923.

If you'd like to view and discuss new features and improvements planned for Jefferson Park, please come to an Open House meeting on Saturday, September 29, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Jefferson Community Center, 3801 Beacon Ave. S. For more information about the park planning process, e-mail Don Bullard, project manager, at don.bullard@seattle.gov

I will be in touch soon.

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