VIEW FROM DENNY PARK
News and Views from the Superintendent
No. 62 June 28, 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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In this issue:
SR520 Public Meeting Tonight | Summer
Means Beach, Wading Pools, Parks | Freeway Park is Hot!
| Waterfront Planning | City Park Alliance
| Loyal Heights Playfield Project | Wi-Fi
at Public Places | City, Parks Win Diversity Award
| Pro Parks Opportunity Fund | Anniversary
of Playland | Upcoming Celebrations
SR520 PUBLIC MEETING TONIGHT
Tonight, June 28, at MOHAI, 2700 24th Ave. E, 6 to 8 p.m. there is an
Open House on the SR520 Bridge Replacement and HOV Project, hosted by
the Washington State Department of Transportation. Two alternatives are
being evaluated, a 4-lane and a 6-lane option. We've been working closely
with WSDOT regarding the impact of the alternatives on the Arboretum,
Foster Island and other park land.
For more information, please call 206-781-3922
SUMMER MEANS BEACHES, WADING POOLS, PARKS
School is out and our summer programs are in full swing. Starting last
Saturday, we opened our nine lifeguarded beaches around the city. The
beaches are open daily, weather permitting, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and
we strongly recommend swimming only where lifeguards are present.
Also open are our 28 wading pools (very popular with families with young
children), our Summer Day Camps, and our Summer Playground Program, a
free, supervised drop-in program. Many playground sites offer free sack
lunch (in partnership with the Seattle Human Services Department). And
don't forget all of the concerts, plays, environmental education, and
special events in our parks.
The variety and volume of things to do are truly amazing. For a complete
listing of summer activities at Seattle Parks and Recreation, please visit
our web site at www.seattle.gov/parks
FREEWAY PARK IS HOT!
Summer in the city also brings special summer programs for our downtown
parks. June 20 marked the beginning of the "Hot Summer, Hot Park"
activities at Freeway Park.
Throughout the next three months, Freeway Park visitors can enjoy a number
of fun and engaging events at the park, including:
- Tricycle Days: July 8, August 19, Sept. 23 9:30-10:30 a.m.
Downtown day care centers will join forces for a day full of tricycle
fun throughout the park!
- Organic to Go Out to Lunch Concert Series: July 18, Aug. 29,
noon to 1:30 p.m.
- Seattle Night Out: Aug. 2, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. A night to heighten
awareness of crime prevention awareness and increase neighborhood support.
- Navy Band: Aug. 4, noon to 1 p.m.
- Game Center: June 20 to Sept. 2, 11 to 2 p.m. Backgammon, chess,
checkers and cards on the outdoor patio furniture.
- Sound Steps Senior Adult Walking Loop: June 20 to Sept, 2,
Tuesdays 10 a.m. Take a brisk group walk around the park! Participants
meet in front of the restrooms.
- Beba's Outdoor Café: June 20 to Sept. 2, 11 a.m. to
2 p.m., Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
We are also making physical improvements to the park's lighting, fountains,
vegetation, and signs to make Freeway Park safer and more attractive to
visit. Please come downtown to take a look!
A lot is going on at Seattle's waterfront, both actual construction and
projects on the drawing board.
Fencing at Pier 58
You may have seen work going on at the Seattle Aquarium. Beginning earlier
this month, we are renovating the Aquarium's underlying structure at Pier
59. We are stabilizing the structure by installing new driven and posted
piles and new concrete aprons (to replace existing wooden ones). Following
the pile work, the east end of the building will be carefully removed;
the existing building façade (the front of the building) will be
stored at Pier 62/63 and restored before it is replaced next year.
We are also actively planning for the future of nearby Piers 62-63 and
Waterfront Park. Our consultant team, led by MAKERS Architects, is analyzing
the site and reviewing the options for Pier 62-63 and Waterfront Park.
They also prepared three conceptual alternatives that show the range of
possibilities for park development atop the future Alaskan Way tunnel
and lid. This exciting potential project would better link the waterfront
with the Pike Place Market and downtown.
We are working closely with other City departments on these plans: with
the Department of Planning and Development on its Central Waterfront Concept
effort, and with the Seattle Department of Transportation on the design
of the future Alaskan Way surface street.
CITY PARK ALLIANCE
Earlier this month, I attended a one-day "summit" in Washington
DC with 23 park directors of the 30 largest cities in the country, among
them Los Angeles, New York, Dallas, Denver, Philadelphia, Jacksonville,
and Chicago. We met to begin to craft a national urban park agenda. Given
the current national administration's proclivity to ignore the needs of
urban America, especially when it comes to issues of urban parks and recreation,
we set out to develop an agenda that we could all endorse.
The themes coming out of the summit focus on the question of how parks
and recreation agencies and our partners are actively engaged in the following
urban issues: environmental stewardship, community development, health
and fitness, and youth education. It is satisfying to learn that Seattle
Parks and Recreation continues to lead the nation in these areas. Mayor
Nickel's Green Seattle Partnership with the Cascade Land Conservancy is
a unique effort to restore our urban forests. The Neighborhood Matching
Fund, Starbucks Park Grants, volunteer projects, "friends of"
groups, and, of course the Pro Parks Levy projects, developed through
neighborhood planning, all contribute to community building and are the
envy of other cities. The Family and Education Levy funded out-of-school
programs with emphasis on academic achievement are ahead of the curve
for most park agencies. Likewise, the Sound Steps Program for Seniors
and our recent acceptance of 10 free automated external defibrillators
from Philips Medical Systems for our pools are key parts of our Healthy
Living Initiative. Although we have plenty to learn from other cities,
we have a whole lot to be proud of.
The goal of the group is to eventually develop an agenda that is supported
not only by the largest cities' elected officials, but also by the many
partners with whom we work closely, both locally and nationally. I'll
keep you posted on this group's progress.
LOYAL HEIGHTS PLAYFIELD PROJECT
You may have heard of our plans for improvements to the playfield at Loyal
Heights, which include the replacement of the existing grass field to a
synthetic surface in 2006. Many people have written to me with strong feelings,
both pro and con, about this plan.
I think a little background is important context for this project. The
decision to install artificial turf was an element of the Joint Athletic
Facilities Development Program (JAFDP), approved by the Board of Park
Commissioners and me in 2002 after extensive public review and comment.
The JAFDP has guided field improvements throughout the city over the past
three years. The Loyal Heights project is funded by the 2000 voter-approved
Pro Parks Levy.
Recognizing the difficulty and great expense of adding new athletic fields
in the city, and given that the demand for field use far outstrips supply,
the goal of the JAFDP is to maximize the use of existing fields, especially
lighted fields, without having to convert non-playfield parkland to playfields.
The conversion of lit grass fields adds capacity for field use during
the winter and early spring when grass fields are no longer playable.
The new field surface will not be Astroturf, but a new synthetic material
that is cost-effective and more environmentally sustainable than grass.
The new synthetic surfaces look much more like natural grass than the
old Astroturf fields, and cost very little to maintain.
Much of the project's $2.3 million cost will pay for field infrastructure,
upgrading bathrooms to be wheelchair-accessible, and installing new fences.
The synthetic field has a life expectancy of 15 years, and will be replaced
at a cost of about $800,000. The cost of maintaining a grass athletic
field is very high-including costs for water, fertilizer, and the repeated
labor costs for mowing, striping, and other maintenance. Those factors
make the cost of a grass field equivalent to the cost of the synthetic
field over its 15-year lifespan.
Our extensive public involvement process for this project will continue
when the Park Board holds a public hearing on the project on July 14,
6 p.m., at the Armory at South Lake Union, 860 Terry Ave. N. For more
information on this project, please visit www.seattle.gov/parks/proparks/projects/loyalheightsplayfield.htm
WI-FI AT PUBLIC PLACES
this month, Mayor Greg Nickels joined community and business leaders to
launch a City pilot project providing free wireless Internet access in
the Columbia City and the University District business districts.
Free Internet access will also be available within the next month in
four downtown parks: Occidental, Freeway, Westlake and Victor Steinbrueck.
The goals of the City's Wi-Fi pilot project are to attract more customers
to local business districts, support small businesses, encourage the use
of public parks and facilities, and enable more citizens to access City
For more information about the City's pilot Wi-Fi project, please call
CITY, PARKS WIN DIVERSITY AWARD
The Association of Washington Cities (AWC) has awarded a 2005 Diversity
Champion Award to the City of Seattle and Parks and Recreation.
The AWC award this year honors 12 cities that have taken the initiative
to support and honor the diversity of their community members; the organization
rated the applications on the basis of how well each city celebrates,
educates, collaborates, leads, empowers, and creates an impact on community
Seattle, under the leadership of Mayor Nickels, has undertaken a sweeping
effort, the Race and Social Justice Initiative, to make cultural and ethnic
diversity an asset, to eliminate institutional attitudes that result in
racial disproportionality, and to transform our civic engagement processes
to address these challenges.
In conferring the award, AWC recognized Seattle Parks for:
- Engaging in cultural celebrations, setting a good example for the
- Internal emphasis on diversity and multicultural outreach;
- An active team of diverse employees;
- A comprehensive strategic plan for diversity that promotes systematic
- Acting as a model for local governments across the state.
PRO PARKS OPPORTUNITY FUND
At its May 23 meeting, the Pro Parks Levy Oversight Committee recommended
projects for the Levy's Opportunity Fund. In 2002, the Committee recommended
first round allocations of $6 million from the $10 million fund. For the
second round, the committee received 36 applications requesting $13 million.
Recommended projects include funding for a new park in the 12th Ave. neighborhood
and funding for developing parks acquired with first round allocations.
See our web site for a complete list of projects: www.seattle.gov/parks/proparks/opportunityfund.htm.
Photo Courtesy of Seattle
Museum of History & Industry
ANNIVERSARY OF PLAYLAND
This summer marks the 75th anniversary of the opening of Seattle's Playland
amusement park, once a beloved annual tradition for local children and
families. Playland was located at the site where Bitter Lake park and
community center now sit.
To celebrate, Bitter Lake Community Center is offering fun and educational
activities for anyone wanting to take a stroll down memory lane or learn
more about the park:
- Playland Lecture: On July 19, from 7 to 8:30 p.m., Kay Schlegel,
curator of the Playland Exhibit at the Shoreline Historical Society,
will discuss the history of Playland.
- Playland Exhibit: A special Playland exhibit will be shown
at the community center's Concert and Picnic in the Park event on Saturday,
Aug. 13, from 4 to 6 p.m.
If you have any questions about the Playland events mentioned above,
please call the Bitter Lake Community Center at 206-684-7524 or visit
We are continuing to celebrate the completions of major projects at our
parks. Two more park projects will be done soon, both funded by the Pro
- June 29: Gas Works Park Northwest Corner.
Work in the NW corner included capping contaminated soil with "clean
soil," landscaping, irrigation, entryways, and accessible walkways.
- July 9: Nantes Park. Nantes is Seattle's sister city on the
Atlantic coast of France. Improvements include new plantings, a butterfly
garden, benches, and a small gathering area.
I'll be in touch soon.