2 playground proposals: Admiral dream; Delridge architect search

The popularity of new Ercolini Park is a reminder of just what a playground, and park, can mean to a neighborhood. Neighbors in two areas of West Seattle are working now to make similar dreams come true, and we have updates on both: The first one’s a dream for this Admiral park that you might not even recognize as a park:


Just beyond the tree in the foreground, that triangle of land at California/Hill (map), immediately southeast of Admiral Congregational UCC Church, is indeed a park, called California Place (official city page here). Manuela Slye, who also happens to be opening the new Spanish-language preschool Cometa (as mentioned here), spoke to the Admiral Neighborhood Association at its last meeting about her dream of creating a playground there. She is in the very early stages of trying to figure out what that would involve, but already has a touching presentation (as read to the ANA) with children’s art and words about what it would mean to have “a place to play” there.

Second, in North Delridge, the “tot lot” project (previous WSB coverage here) for Cottage Grove Park is now seeking an architect. They are hoping to find a landscape architect that can donate her/his services for this small playground project, but there’s a possibility their grant-seeking could include some money for fees, so they want to hear from anyone interested. Read on for a full description of the work and who to contact:

Background: The Delridge neighborhood of West Seattle is one of the most ethnically and socioeconomically diverse areas in West Seattle proper and one of the few neighborhoods where some housing is still affordable. The area schools, Cooper, Sanislo, Denny and Sealth, have extremely diverse populations and high concentrations of children in the free- and reduced-lunch programs. Infrastructure is growing with the addition of the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center and the Delridge library branch. We have a flourishing p-patch, a new park area, and the gorgeous Longfellow Creek watershed project. With the development of many new condo units, we also have an influx of young families with young children. In 2007, the Parks Department installed a playground at the new Cottage Grove Park. The sophisticated, slick equipment there is intended for children ages 5 and up and features extensive climbing equipment and a climbing wall. The landscaping is gorgeous and full of edible plants. To the South of the playground is a large rolling field culminating in a Recovery Garden. To the East is a large, almost flat, open field. Neighbors run their dogs on this field; consequently it is a minefield of dog droppings.

Problem: Parents bringing their young children to Cottage Grove Park have found that the equipment is overwhelming, daunting, and inaccessible. Some three year olds and four year olds are able to play on low, rocking structures and to mount the lowest level of the climbing structure. When tots attempt to toddle in the grassy field, they need to avoid the aforementioned dog poop. The youngest children and their parents want play equipment that is safe and appropriate for the under-5 set. We have organized a coalition of parents, held public meetings, obtained three project proposals, gathered public input on the three projects, and have started fundraising. The equipment itself will cost less than $16,000 and will include a swingset, spring toys, and a climber or other toy.

The Parks Department requires a landscape design to ensure that the equipment is sited appropriately. We have not yet made a landscape design. We are applying for a Small and Simple grant to pay for half of the project.

Scope of work: Our group of neighbors is seeking a licensed landscape architect to donate design services for this playground project. Lots of community outreach over the last year has already clarified the design program, as well as a general location for the equipment. The scope of work would include working with the community organizers and the Parks Department to locate the equipment in the park, design an accessible pathway to the playground, and provide design details for excavation, drainage, and surrounding curb to contain wood chips. There would be two or three meetings with Parks to refine the design. There might also be a need for limited construction oversight to insure the work is being performed per the design. One part of the funding plan is to apply for the July 9th round of the Department of Neighborhoods Small and Simple Grant. We would need to have a landscape architect committed to the project at that point. We could also use help in preparing a budget for some aspects of the construction, although the equipment and installation has already been estimated by playground manufacturers. Design work would need to be complete in time for implementation planned for early fall of this year.

Familiarity with standard Parks design details (or a desire to learn about them) would be a benefit, as well as an interest in designing outdoor play space for children. If you are interested in this project but could not donate your services, please feel free to contact us. We are hoping to find someone who is able to donate services. Because we are situated in a less-affluent neighborhood, we don’t have major donors and we are trying to keep our costs to an absolute minimum. However, we will gladly consider proposals for fees as well since we can include this cost in our Small and Simple proposal. The Parks Department estimates the design costs will not be significant. All donations will be publicly recognized!

Reply to: Parie Hines, parield (at) gmail.com.

14 Replies to "2 playground proposals: Admiral dream; Delridge architect search"

  • S5 June 25, 2008 (11:26 am)

    Regarding the California Place park, can we not just leave a green space, a green space? Why do we always have to fill them with something?

  • rockyracoon June 25, 2008 (12:05 pm)

    I agree, S5. Why is there a need to “create a playground?” An open space with trees and grass IS a playground, and the best kind.

  • JanS June 25, 2008 (5:52 pm)

    yes, I’m in agreement, too…this is a nice piece of property…a little urban park. Let the kids use their imaginations. If they want swings, go south a few blocks to Lafayette…

  • Eric B June 25, 2008 (9:50 pm)

    Ercolini Park has been such a welcome addition to the neighborhood. It is incredible how many children are out there every day playing. Typically a dozen or more. A small park like this is clearly something everyone should have. I hope Mr. Ercolini and his family knows what a wonderful thing he did for the children of our area. Good luck to those trying to bring one to their neighborhood!

  • Jill June 25, 2008 (10:22 pm)

    Regarding the first part of the post, count me in with the “why do we need to manufacture something?” votes. This space is beautiful. I hope that any new plans require preserving that tree in the front/center.

  • miws June 25, 2008 (10:32 pm)

    Mr. Ercolini came into my workplace a couple weeks or so ago.


    Once I realized who he was, I mentioned that I had not yet been to the park, but had been following the progress on WSB. I also mentioned that I was always impressed with how nice the vacant lot was kept, as I would walk by there occasionally over the years.


    I told him how generous I thought it was that he donated the property to the community, and thanked him for doing so. He thanked me nicely and sincerely, for the ackowledgement.


    What a wonderfully kind Gentleman!



  • Matthew S June 26, 2008 (7:13 pm)

    I agree more with Eric B. California Park is a perfect space for a small neighborhood playground for children to explore. Having a quaint space inside a neighborhood where they can flourish will add the sparkle to this little patch of green space in a beautiful neighborhood. For those of us who enjoy open “green spaces” in urban settings, we can visit Hiawatha, Belvedere, Hamilton Viewpoint, or near by Schmitz Park.

  • Gary Max June 27, 2008 (1:32 pm)

    As the playground designer, I’m always pleased to see kids and families enjoying what we created. This project had a lot of community input, and it shows in the results. Unfortunately, tight Parks budgets never allow for all the things we really want to do,
    but the playground is still a big success. Hope you all enjoy it!

    Gary Max, President
    SiteLines Park and Playground Products, Everett, WA

  • Betsy June 30, 2008 (10:26 am)

    Folks, please don’t imagine that building a playground would result in the loss of the green, grassy feel of the current space. Rathe, what would be added would be life and activity — children playing. Do parents now walk to that park to play with their kids? or do more people take their dogs their to poop? Any time I’ve driven by there, precisely zero people have been in the space. Why not dedicate some % of the ground to a play area for children? The community planning process for a playground is EXTREMELY intensive and all y’all will have plenty of opportunities to participate!!

  • S5 July 1, 2008 (10:28 am)

    Perhaps those of us without children (we’re actually becoming a majority in Seattle) just enjoy having an open, quiet, reflective oasis in the middle of the city. It doesn’t have to be “used” and “filled with life and activity” for it to be worthwhile. Please don’t think I’m hating on playgrounds – communities need them! – but there is a fabulous one (Hiwatha Playground) just down the street.

  • respect to homeowners August 25, 2008 (11:30 am)

    one persons dream is anothers nightmare

  • AK August 27, 2008 (4:44 pm)

    Hiawatha is one kind of play area, I believe what’s suggested for the Admiral area is a natural play area, and the addition of native plants – an area that anyone could use. No talk that I’ve heard involves removing trees there. I live nearby and I have rarely seen anyone using the park. A nearby daycare brings children there but they play on the church part of the area – as in farthest from the road. Perhaps beautification of the area would make it more accessible to more people, more of the time. I’ve never seen adults just lounging there aside from the occasional napper under the church trees.

  • respect to homeowners August 27, 2008 (11:43 pm)

    It is the care given to the extensive root system of the old growth trees that is the concern. Not that they would be taken down. Just that development might kill them. That is just one reason I oppose this project.

  • Sonya Elliott September 4, 2008 (9:37 pm)

    I have lived on this block for 12 years and have been raising my kids for 11 of those years. There are plenty of parks within walking distance that are fun and safe for young children. The proposed small location right next to California (a busy street) seems like a waste of time and money not to mention the loss of green space. A higher priority to the residents surrounding this proposed site are sidewalks and proper drainage, (as many Ferry Avenue home owners deal with flooding on a continual basis) and better lighting for the entire North Admiral neighborhood.

    I appreciate the thoughts behind this effort, but this money could be used in a better way, perhaps to help to keep residents safe and dry.

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