(Photo by Dina Johnson)
The three most recent chairs of the Highland Park Action Committee — from left, Blair Johnson (2006-2007), Dan Mullins (current) and Dorsol Plants (2008, now running for City Council) — were all on hand as HPAC led a “mini-summit” last night on what Mullins called “one of the city’s jewels”: Nearby Westcrest Park. Westcrest is known for many things, good and bad – right now, for the Seattle Public Utilities project to cover its reservoir:
Also, for the fact it’s got the only official off-leash area in West Seattle:
(2008 WSB photo)
And, infamously, for “illicit activity” – drugs and sex – though Southwest Precinct Community Police Team Officer Adonis Topacio reiterated at last night’s meeting what he told the West Seattle Crime Prevention Council last week, that the “activity” has dropped dramatically in recent weeks, thanks in no small part to citizen patrols and some clearing of overgrown vegetation. But, Officer Topacio said, the park needs to be used more, to keep the unwanted activity at bay; making Westcrest more usable was one of the themes of the night.
(Photo by Dina Johnson)
Those sticky notes contain dozens of suggestions and concerns that the meeting’s 50-plus participants wrote down – not just thoughts about how to make the park better now (including safety enhancements like cameras and lighting), but also their ideas for what to do with the park space that will eventually be created once the reservoir-covering work is done; many hoped for P-Patch community-gardening space; others envisioned more play equipment for kids (“big swings for big kids/adults too,” read one note). A Parks Department manager in attendance said that the design process for the park space likely will start before the end of this year, once a project manager is appointed in the fall. But the ideas ultimately must resonate with the community, stressed City Council President Richard Conlin, who spoke and took questions for about 20 minutes as the meeting began:
One attendee asked what advice he could give HPAC in terms of pursuing its ideas for Westcrest Park: “Parks staff can be great resources – tap into them, find out about the realities of the issues they’re dealing with. (Also), work to build win-win consensus … it’s very difficult if (the community is split).” The many ideas voiced and written during last night’s meeting will be turned into an official document and presented to city leaders; a draft form might even be available, Mullins indicated, by this Thursday, when the full City Council comes to West Seattle for a Town Hall meeting (6:30 pm, The Hall at Fauntleroy). ALSO ANNOUNCED AT LAST NIGHT’S HPAC MEETING: The group is officially switching its regular meeting day to the fourth Wednesday of the month (instead of the fourth Monday), so the next meeting will be July 22nd.