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News and Views from the Superintendent
No. 60 May 11, 2005
Gregory J. Nickels, Mayor
Kenneth R. Bounds, Superintendent
A periodic electronic newsletter about Parks and Recreation news, programs, projects and events from Seattle Parks and Recreation Superintendent Ken Bounds
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In this issue:
Be A Part of History | Homer Harris Park to Open | Pritchard Beach, Mt. Baker Get Boost | Occidental Square Park | Wawona Closed to Public | South Lake Union Programs | Seward Park "Vegetation Management Plan" | New Park Names | Southwest CC Opens | Benefit Park Dedication | Summer Approaches


What if all of Seattle were in the same photo? They could be! Join Mayor Greg Nickels and the Seattle City Council to celebrate the completion of City Hall and the opening of its new public plaza on Saturday, May 14, 2 to 4:30 p.m. at City Hall Plaza, 4th Avenue, between James and Cherry streets, downtown Seattle. A big thank you to the individuals and organizations that funded the spectacular maple tree that grows in the western plaza.

For more information, please see the event flier:


Also this Saturday, we are honored to dedicate one of our newest parks, named after famed African American physician and athlete Homer Harris. I reported on the completion of this project in the last edition of this newsletter. The event is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. at the park at 24th Ave. E and E Howell St. Construction is complete, but the Seattle Parks Foundation and Friends of Homer Harris Park are still working to raise funds for art and history elements of the park. The park development project was funded by the Pro Parks Levy and the Neighborhood Matching Fund.


The Seattle City Council approved 2005 budget changes totaling more than $56 million. Among the Parks-related changes were the restoration of the lifeguard position at Pritchard Beach ($40,000), enabling us to re-open that beach program this summer, and an added $300,000 for the boathouse/improvement project at the Mt. Baker Rowing and Sailing Center.


We are moving ahead with improvements at the park! On May 4, the Pioneer Square Preservation Board approved our plan to make physical changes and add new events and activities. Previously, the Mayor, the Seattle City Council, the Pioneer Square Community Association, and the Board of Park Commissioners endorsed the project.

After months of design work and consultation with Pioneer Square residents, businesses, community groups, and the City Council, we revised the plan, which will include repaving the square with accessible pavers, improving the lighting, removing 17 of 65 trees from the square and the adjacent mall (walkway), adding bocce courts, chess tables, and renovating the setting for the totem poles. We will also replace the small structure in the southeast part of the park with a concession building. Construction will begin in September.

In the meantime, come downtown and visit the park this summer for a sampling of concerts, art shows, and other engaging activities. The programs and renovation work are all designed to revitalize this great urban space for the people who visit, live and work in Pioneer Square.


An important part of my responsibility as Superintendent is making sure our parks and facilities are as safe as possible for the public to visit and enjoy. On April 28, I sent a letter to Northwest Seaport with this in mind, requesting that the Wawona, an historic fishing vessel docked at South Lake Union Park, be closed to public access. Northwest Seaport complied the following day.

The letter cited safety concerns based on a preliminary report by Michael Vlahovich, an expert in the preservation of commercial fishing vessels. Mr. Vlahovich listed major structural defects and weaknesses in the boat. A full report due to me next month will include a more detailed assessment of the boat's condition and the costs for repairs. The report will also assess possible alternative sites for the Wawona. The Wawona must be moved by November 2005 to accommodate park improvements near the shoreline.


We remain committed to promoting and preserving Seattle's maritime heritage at South Union Park. We hope that the Maritime Heritage Task Force, formed in January 2005, will help develop the leadership and organizational focus needed to effectively preserve and celebrate our maritime heritage. In the meantime, the Center for Wooden Boats has been for many years a valued partner and has run a full slate of boating programs and events. View a photo montage of recent CWB activities at the park at


A number of citizens have written and called about the Seward Park Vegetation Management Plan (VMP). The major concern is that the draft VMP emphasizes "hazard trees" and our plans to remove them. I share their strong feelings about protecting Seattle's trees, particularly the magnificent forest in Seward Park.

We have been developing VMPs for various parks for about five years now. They are intended to assess the conditions of the plant life, and to map out strategies for protecting and enhancing it. Typically, removal of invasive plants is the initial major focus, and we then look to planting and other methods of maintaining diversity and protecting the trees.

Seward Park's draft plan, like all our VMPs, is guided by our Tree Policy. The Tree Policy contains the principles that steer our work to maintain, preserve, and enhance the urban forest. In Seward Park, we are focusing on the trees near the most-used parts of the park, such as the main lower paved loop and the play area. Although trees inside the forested area have been noted for unhealthy conditions, we do not intend to alter nature's course unless an imminent danger develops-e.g., in the event that a limb breaks off and hangs in another tree above a trail area.

Parks forestry staff are working on revisions to the draft VMP, and it will be available for review on our web site by June 1, at A public meeting will follow.


As new parks are acquired and developed, they need fitting and distinctive names. I recently named five new parks in Seattle, and I invite you to visit these wonderful additions to our parks system. For more information about park improvements please visit our web site at The parks are:

  • Ballard Commons Park. Located at 5701 22nd Ave. NW in Ballard, this new 1.4-acre park was informally known as "Ballard Commons" or "Ballard Civic Center Park" during its development into a neighborhood park. Improvements to the park, which will be completed later this year, include a skateboard area, a lawn, central promenade, large "landmark" trees, and public art. Funding for development of the park came from the Pro Parks Levy.
  • Ursula Judkins
  • Ursula Judkins Viewpoint. We purchased 7.3 acres in the Smith Cove area in Magnolia from the U.S. Navy in 2003. The land is divided into two parts, the lower portion along 23rd Ave. W at the foot of Magnolia hill, and the upper portion, 2.4 acres of property on W Galer St. at the top of the Magnolia Bridge overlooking Elliott Bay. Opened to the public in April 2004, this upper portion constitutes Ursula Judkins Viewpoint. Before she passed away in December 2000, Ursula Judkins was active in Magnolia community organizations, and persistently advocated for parks and open space in Magnolia and improvements to Discovery Park.
  • York Park. Located on the site of a former City Light substation at 3650 Renton Ave. S in southeast Seattle, York Park was one of several substations in the city surplused by Seattle City Light and purchased in 2003 for park purposes with funding from the Pro Parks Levy. The Levy will also pay for development of the 12,000-square-foot site with contributions from the Safeco Foundation, the Miller Foundation, the Department of Neighborhoods and King County. The plan includes paths, park furniture, lawn and other landscaping. These improvements will be completed later this year.
  • Northlake Park. This is a new park at the intersection of Lake Union Waterway 14 and Northlake Way at the north end of Lake Union (between I-5 and University Bridge). It will be developed into a small park with seating and landscaping. The Pro Parks Levy is funding these improvements, which should be completed later this year.
  • Nantes Park. This is another former City Light substation. Located in West Seattle at the intersection of Admiral Way SW and SW Garlough St., it is approximately 10,000 square feet in size. The first phase of this neighborhood park has been completed and includes walkways, benches, and native plants. The Pro Parks Levy funded acquisition and development. Nantes is Seattle's sister city on the Atlantic coast of France.


It seems like we are witnessing the gratifying results of the 1999 voter-approved Community Center Levy and 2000 Pro Parks Levy almost every month. On Saturday, May 7, Mayor Greg Nickels and Councilmember David Della joined the community and me in re-opening the Southwest Community Center on Saturday, May 7. Funded by both major levies, the facility received a major upgrade, including a new gym, teen center, and computer room. Additional improvements include an elevator, a new fire sprinkler system, a family changing room that is accessible for people with disabilities, and enhancements to the play area. One added note, the Seattle Conservation Corps, the department's training and employment program for homeless adults, helped rebuild this play area. For more information about the project, please visit our web site at or visit the center at 2801 Thistle St. in West Seattle.


Also on May 7, we dedicated a park in the ethnically and economically diverse neighborhood of South Beacon Hill. Once the site of a temporary school, Benefit Park covers a full city block at 9320 38th Ave. S. A community group, the Friends of Benefit Park, came together to renovate park, which had become a site of drug use and other illicit activity. Improvements include new play equipment, a walking path, new areas of lawn, and enhanced safety features. Major partners on this project were the Department of Neighborhoods (Neighborhood Matching Fund), Seattle Parks Foundation, King County, and many foundation and community donations.


Summer is nearly here, and Seattle families especially are planning summer activities and events. Seattle Parks and Recreation is full of good ideas for healthy summertime fun. In addition to our parks and playgrounds, wading pools, swimming beaches and wading pools, we run summer day camps, nature day camps, and much more. Please consult our web site after Friday, May 13 for our 2005 Summer Guide:

I'll be in touch soon.

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