VIEW FROM DENNY PARK
News and Views from the Superintendent
No. 60 May 11, 2005
Kenneth R. Bounds, Superintendent
A periodic electronic newsletter about Parks and Recreation news, programs,
projects and events from Seattle Parks and Recreation Superintendent Ken
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delivered to your
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
A PART OF HISTORY ON MAY 14!
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:
HARRIS PARK TO OPEN
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.
PRITCHARD BEACH, MT. BAKER BOATING GET BOOST
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.
WAWONA CLOSED TO PUBLIC
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.
SOUTH LAKE UNION PROGRAMS
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 www.seattle.gov/parks/parkspaces/southlakeunionpark/cwb.pdf
SEWARD PARK "VEGETATION MANAGEMENT PLAN"
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 www.seattle.gov/parks/parkspaces/SewardPark/VMP.htm
A public meeting will follow.
NEW PARK NAMES
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 www.seattle.gov/parks/proparks/
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.
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
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 www.seattle.gov/parks
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: www.seattle.gov/parks
I'll be in touch soon.