California Place Park – West Seattle Blog… West Seattle news, 24/7 Sat, 26 May 2018 06:45:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 California Place Park update: Watch for a survey Tue, 23 Jun 2009 06:56:56 +0000

Two days after that celebration in California Place Park (WSB coverage here), marking the end of the “design process” funded by a city Neighborhood Matching Fund grant, looking toward possible additions to the park, there’s a P.S. – Friends and Neighbors of North Admiral has an update to share, with two items that were included in our report on the weekend event, and one that is just now being announced:

At the celebration this weekend we announced a few things we are working on and also forgot to mention another. In the interest of keeping people updated and informed, here’s what’s brewing:

A Park Sign
— We are working with the Parks Department to ensure a sign is installed in the park so that all who pass by know it to be a PUBLIC park, open and accessible to all. It has been ordered, and is just a matter of time before we see it in California Place Park.

Buffer Plants – Based on input and community concerns, we are working to plant “buffer plants” in the right of way area along California Ave SW. This will create a natural border for the park and California Ave and help to enclose park users. This is an element of the design that Karen Kiest created. Her team will help us with placement and plant selection. All plants will be from the list of approved plants for right of way areas to make sure visibility is not impaired.

We need your help to make this happen – we’re looking for community volunteers to help install these plants and also donations to help purchase plants. If you’re interested in pledging time, money or seek more information please e-mail us at We’ll post more details on this as we have them!

Community Survey — Look for a survey from “Friends and Neighbors of North Admiral” in your mailbox in the next day or so. We are seeking feedback from the community on outdoor community spaces. This survey was sent to most residents North of Admiral Ave SW – about 1,900 households and businesses. Please take the time to answer these questions and return the survey in the enclosed envelope either by using a stamp or dropping it off at Barnecut’s Admiral Service Station (the Shell station on the corner of Admiral Way SW and 41st Ave SW.) We’ll post our analysis of the feedback as soon as possible.

The deadline for returning the survey is July 20th; the money comes from that same original $15,000 Department of Neighborhoods grant that funded the design work done to date.

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California Place Park: Sign on the way; “buffer plantings” proposed Sun, 21 Jun 2009 06:44:08 +0000

One year ago – on June 11, 2008 – local preschool operator Manuela Slye stood before the Admiral Neighborhood Association‘s monthly meeting and talked about a “dream” of a playground at little California Place Park, adjacent to Admiral Church. In that park today, she cuddled her six-week-old son while talking with us during the celebration organized by the group she co-founded, Friends and Neighbors of North Admiral, marking the end of the design process for which they procured a $15,000 city Neighborhood Matching Fund grant.

Moments before we spoke with Slye, we talked with FANNA’s Ann Limbaugh, after she announced to celebration attendees that there’s only one certain change in the park’s near future: An official sign, marking it as a park. “That’s something we wanted all along,” Slye told us, “something to let people know this is a park.” According to Limbaugh, the group then hopes to secure volunteer time and donations — “less than $2,000” — for one element of this design crafted by landscape architect Karen Kiest as her contract, funded by the city grant, ended:

Limbaugh says the design element that FANNA hopes to pursue involves “buffer plantings” in the parking strips along the sidewalk that borders the park’s east and north sides; the lack of a buffer between the park space and busy California Avenue SW was one concern that repeatedly surfaced during months of meetings about the park. But they’re not needed, according to the “No Change to Park” group:

Standing next to the easels displaying the park design proposals at the celebration, holding her often-seen “No Change to Park” sign, Jan Bailey told us she is opposed to those plantings because of the potential expense. She and ally Dennis Ross, a longtime community activist in the Admiral area — also displaying a “No Change to Park” sign — continue to advocate for the park to remain unchanged. As for whether FANNA might pursue any more components of Kiest’s design – which would require a new round of fundraising and grant-seeking – Limbaugh said they want to “take a break” so nothing is planned. No Parks Department rep was in sight at today’s event (not that one was expected, as it was a community gathering and not an official meeting), so we will be checking with them on Monday regarding their official view of the park’s status, and the timetable for the sign installation.

To catch up on the backstory regarding this park, you can read newest-to-oldest in our California Place Park coverage archive here.

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Highlights today: Clean & Green, park party, ice-cream donations Sat, 20 Jun 2009 13:34:19 +0000 CLEAN AND GREEN: This morning at 9 am, 42nd/Genesee (map) is the epicenter of Seattle’s community-cleanup movement – as the newly funded Genesee P-Patch hosts a city-supported Clean and Green event. It’ll coincide with the Junction Neighborhood Organization Adopt-a-Street cleanup, including the Junction Plaza Park site (getting ever-closer to full construction funding). A mayoral appearance is scheduled to kick it all off.

PARK PARTY: After you’ve recovered from helping clean up The Junction, head north to California Place Park to celebrate all the work that’s gone into the process of designing potential park improvements. 3:30 pm, entertainment, treats and good company – and a chance to see what landscape designer Karen Kiest came up with in her final report to Friends and Neighbors of North Admiral.

ICE-CREAM DONATIONS: Go wish Full Tilt Ice Cream in White Center a happy 1st birthday today, and your purchase will be a triple gift – a treat for you, more support for this vibrant small business, and a matching ice cream donation to the White Center Food Bank.

Lots more fun in the West Seattle Weekend Lineup!

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California Place Park celebration set for June 20th Tue, 02 Jun 2009 21:43:28 +0000

They haven’t yet announced whether they are going to proceed with fundraising for any additions to California Place Park, but Friends and Neighbors of North Admiral have set the date for the community celebration marking the end of the design process for which they obtained a $15,000 grant: 3:30 pm Saturday, June 20. Musician/entertainer Eric Ode will perform. While the future of the main park site is still a question mark, money for a P-Patch community garden on the “southern triangle” across the street is proceeding through the Parks and Green Spaces Levy allocation process (as reported here last week). It’s been almost exactly a year since first word that a group of neighbors was proposing changes to the tiny park in North Admiral; our archived coverage, newest to oldest, is here.

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At Parks Levy Committee meeting: More possible P-Patches Wed, 27 May 2009 03:31:50 +0000

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We’re at the Parks and Green Spaces Levy Oversight Committee meeting, awaiting a discussion of whether the committee will go along with the Skatepark Advisory Committee‘s recommendation to transfer money to the Delridge Skatepark project, from the unpopular-with-neighbors Myrtle Reservoir Skatespot proposal. In the meantime, we’ve heard some West Seattle news – starting with four possible P-Patches that might be funded with the $2 million “community garden” funds coming from the levy – including the site shown in Google Street View above, 34th/Barton. We reported three months ago that this 12,000-square-foot site at 34th/Barton, just east of the Exxon/Propel station, had been identified as “surplus” by the city, and comments were being sought regarding what to do with it. Many people in the comment thread following our report suggested using it as community garden/P-Patch land — and that’s exactly what’s under consideration now. The three other West Seattle sites mentioned for possible acquisition were the West Seattle Christian Church site that already is being turned into the Genesee P-Patch (which just won a Neighborhood Matching Fund $15,000 grant, by the way), a parcel in High Point, and California Place Park (we’ll be following up, but we believe they mean the “southern triangle” discussed in the recent design workshops as a possible garden site). More on these as they move through the process, and more from this meeting when the skatepark funding decision’s in. ADDED 12:52 AM: Read on for a few more details on these 4 West Seattle P-Patch sites, from the document made available at Tuesday night’s meeting:

The 34th/Barton site would cost $26,685 to develop into a P-Patch, according to the city spreadsheet, which lists its “approximate start date” as “unknown.” Less uncertainty for the California Place Park site, indeed the “Southern Triangle” per the location description of Hill/Ferry/44th, with the same development cost, $26,685. This could start in November, says the document.

A lower cost is listed for development of the proposed High Point site, at MacArthur/Juneau, $9,415 with a possible start date in October. And $19,984 development costs are envisioned for the WSCC/Genesee site, which the document notes started this summer.

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From Admiral Neighborhood Assoc.: California Place Park update Wed, 13 May 2009 18:35:17 +0000 Another update from last night’s Admiral Neighborhood Association meeting: Almost a month after the third and final “design workshop” for potential changes to California Place Park, ANA heard the latest from a leader of Friends and Neighbors of North Admiral, the group that obtained a city grant to develop design ideas for the small park next to Admiral Church. Ann Limbaugh said landscape architect Karen Kiest is still working on her “final report” but that’s expected by month’s end. Meantime, FANNA is continuing to meet to discuss “what the right next steps are … for moving the project forward.” (The $15,000 city grant only paid for design work; more fundraising would be needed for any work to actually be done to the park – even the cheapest change envisioned in what was shown at last month’s meeting – as reported here – could cost $80,000.) According to Limbaugh, the current consensus is to “take a bit of a break … and let things settle in the neighborhood a little bit” before resuming discussions “in a month or two.” Park-change opponent Dennis Ross, also at last night’s meeting, asked Limbaugh, “How do the 700 people opposed to (park changes) figure into your plans?” (That number refers to signatures on a petition circulated by park-change opponents – here’s our archived coverage of the controversy, newest to oldest.) She replied, “There are a lot of people who think it’s a great idea – and worth moving forward,” and he countered, “And we have 700 people who don’t,” before the discussion moved on. Limbaugh also mentioned that FANNA is continuing to plan a celebration, to be held in the next month or so, in honor of everyone who participated in the process so far.

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California Place Park: Design workshops end – now what? Fri, 17 Apr 2009 23:14:38 +0000

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Much has changed since the first public discussion of possible changes to little California Place Park in North Admiral – and much has not.

What has changed:

*After going through the design process funded by a $15,000 city matching-funds grant, the proposal for possible park changes does not include anything resembling a children’s play area.

*The so-called “southern triangle” of city-owned land, southwest of the park itself, is now under Parks Department supervision since the process brought to light the fact it was somewhat neglected SDOT-owned right-of-way.

*Life has changed for one of the leaders of Friends and Neighbors of North AdmiralManuela Slye is moving her Admiral District home-based bilingual Cometa Playschool — which some critics had suggested was a motivation for proposing park changes — to part of the former Prudential NW space about two miles south.

What hasn’t changed:

Those opposed to any changes in the small triangle of lawn and trees remain resolute, particularly nearby resident Jan Bailey, who has spent many hours standing in the park with her NO CHANGE TO PARK sign, gathering almost 700 petition signatures, and brought her sign and flyers to last night’s meeting, greeting neighbors at the door, then keeping vigil at the back of the room.

Also unchanged, one stark reality: The fact that intensive community fundraising would be needed to make any changes to the park.

At last night’s meeting, numbers emerged for the first time, along with design concepts presented by well-known Seattle landscape architect Karen Kiest — who chaired the Seattle Design Commission until recently. And some of the tension that in particular marred the first of the three workshops re-emerged, briefly.

But first, a little background, if you’re just joining this story:

California Place Park is a triangle of land bordering Admiral Church and the California/Hill intersection. Until Manuela Slye came to the Admiral Neighborhood Association last June to share a proposal for a possible “play area” there, touching off months of meetings and sometimes clamorous controversy, some say they weren’t even aware it was a park – there’s no sign bearing its name, only a small green sign warning of the city leash/scoop rules. And in fact, it’s been revealed along the way that some of the land that’s part of the park isn’t even recognizable as open space – there’s asphalt over a section on the north side, and church landscaping over some of it along the west side.

Slye and others interested in possible park additions formed Friends and Neighbors of North Admiral, pursuing a city Small and Simple matching-funds grant for $15,000 to hire a landscape architect to lead design workshops and come up with a vision for the park. In the meantime, they held public meetings of their own, even before the grant was awarded.

Once the grant was finalized and FANNA made a landscape-architect hire, that triggered another public process, which started with a pre-meeting of sorts in November (WSB coverage here) and then moved into the design workshops. (All our stories are archived here, newest to oldest.)

Now, on to last night.

Attendance was down from previous meetings; about three dozen people were in the room, and if you scanned it, you could see many held the bright-green “NO CHANGE TO PARK” flyers that Jan Bailey had passed out at the door (see photo above).

FANNA’s Steven Gray began with a quick outline of the next steps in the process; we’ll recap those at the end of this article. Landscape architect Kiest then reviewed the main points of feedback from the previous meetings: “We heard that people like green spaces. We heard that people are interested in safety and security. People agreed the ‘Southern Triangle’ could use some change. There are a lot of options, and our goal in life is to get down to fewer options … to ‘smoosh’ the options into a draft plan for your review.”

What she called “themes” that emerged from the second design workshop included interest in repairing walkways, a curving walkway through the park, a larger lawn, a natural edge, seating (none of which exists in CP Park now aside from the bus-shelter bench), a “playful” landscape, and “buffered” plantings along the road frontage.

She subsequently designed options she said could be phased in, noting they were presented earlier this month to the Parks Department, which — whether money was raised for the park or not — would have the final say on any changes to California Place.

The “first step,” Kiest said, could be to make the walkway go around the trees, respecting the “existing park edge.” She added, “Everything else is just frosting on the cake.”

Since, she half-joked, features have to have names, this one would be called the Wonder Walk.

It could be bookended by markers celebrating the neighborhood’s history, including the cable car that used to go down the hill to a ferry dock. Briefly shown at the meeting – a hand-drawn document from the “Sherwood Files” at the Parks website, detailing more of the park’s history:

Along the walkway, there could be a Learning Landscape – “that could involve more native plants – the superintendent of parks (Tim Gallagher) is very interested in that.” And seating was envisioned – Kiest showed examples, such as a “whimsical” bench at Broadview Library, or even a “seating circle” that she said could mix grass and stones.

One suggestion discussed at the previous meeting has largely come off the table – the idea of moving the bus shelter to allow more of a streetside view into the park – so it didn’t figure into any of the designs (and wouldn’t be under city jurisdiction anyway).

Then, the “corner opportunity” – Kiest’s design of an “entry plaza” envisioned an “ornamental,” curved seating wall, perhaps including some plaques, and landscaping.

In what Kiest said she could envision as “phase 2 in a (financially) uncertain world” – drawing somewhat rueful laughter – the asphalt-buried northern section of the park “would be a wonderful extension,” dubbed the Full Stretch:

Finally, she showed some potential changes for the “southern triangle” – extended walls, some seating, drainage improvements (which Kiest said would be more up to Seattle Public Utilities) – seen at the bottom half of this sketch:

Next, Kiest discussed cost estimates for the elements of her design presentation. The “southern triangle” wasn’t covered, since it technically wasn’t part of what she was hired to review. Otherwise: The “first step,” including site prep, grading, irrigation, planting, onsite improvements, offsite pavement, could cost from $160,000 to $240,000, she said. Expanding the project to the “larger frame” by converting the paved portion on the north side back to usable park land would add $80,000 to $119,000 more. So the top potential price tag would be around $360,000 – the lowest potential price tag, $80,000 for the low end of just converting the north end.

Once the cost review discussion was over, that’s when the meeting got a little tense: A park-change opponent said, “Can we have a show of hands of who’s on board with you (Kiest)?”

The landscape architect did her best to deflect the attempt to call for a vote, stating clearly and repeatedly, that’s not what the meeting was for – opinions were supposed to be discussed in the “small group” participation that was scheduled to happen next, then presented to the larger group.

The park opponent insisted on continuing: “There are those of us who are totally against any change to the park, and I really don’t think those of us who are against any change in the park are being listened to.” Another voice: “I just don’t get it. It feels like a majority in the room are opposed to it. I’m very frustrated, as a taxpayer.”

Kiest attempted to calmly defuse the debate: “I want to be clear about a couple of things. This is a planning grant we are working under that was approved. Your input has been incredibly helpful. I understand you have an organized group …”

“So does the other side,” interrupted an attendee.

“Yes,” Kiest acknowledged, “but I don’t know why you are here (at a design workshop) if you are opposed to any change in the park.”

That drew what we might describe as the loud verbal equivalent of en-masse eye rolling. (Kiest later apologized, following some one-on-one conversations during the small-group discussion, saying she did understand they were there to make sure it was known they opposed park changes.)

During the small-group discussion, attendees were to look at the proposed designs and talk about what if anything they would like to see done, and any other ideas they might have. Kiest and FANNA leaders, including Manuela Slye (who’s expecting a baby in a few weeks) and Ann Limbaugh, circulated to answer questions; at one point, Kiest could be seen talking with a woman who was waving her hands and gesturing quite animatedly.

When the group reconvened, Kiest pointed out Parks and Neighborhoods city reps who were in attendance, and started calling on representatives for individual tables, starting with a woman who wanted to show a bag full of tree roots she said she had collected at the park:

She said the roots had been dug up by crews working at the site earlier in the week with jackhammers: “I wanted to express my disgust and concern on a couple of different levels,” she said, explaining that this is what many feared might happen to the roots of the park’s big existing trees if any kind of work was done. “I’m starting to like the idea of a ‘Wonder Walk,’ and historical facts on markers, but is more of this going to happen if that occurs?”

Kiest tried to reassure her that “surface root” damage shouldn’t harm the tree, adding: “Typically when we do new sidewalks, we put a root barrier down at the edge, a liner that keeps the roots growing down rather than buckling the sidewalks.”

Continuing around the tables, several representatives simply wanted to say they were against any change to the park. Of those who had comments about potential changes, one voiced support for adding seating and history markers; another said the “corner opportunity” should be a priority, while also suggesting that just tackling the northern section might be an OK option for those whose attitude he characterized as “don’t mess with my park”: “Do everything outside the existing boundaries,” he suggested cheerily, “and then everybody will be happy!” (Laughter ensued.)

Yet another table suggested benches would be OK but “avoid building targets for taggers” — that drew applause. There was another suggestion of incorporating the historical references into the walls of the bus shelter.

Longtime Admiral neighborhood activist/advocate Dennis Ross was among the last to speak; he said, “I think spending close to $400,000 here is not cost-effective. We already have a lot of the pleasant things that a lot of people are talking about talking about that won’t cost anything to keep … your cost estimate fullblown is close to 400K; there’s no money in this economy.” He did acknowledge that improvement to help disability accessibility would be OK, and reiterated that the bus shelter should not be moved.

After reps from each table had spoken, Kiest summarized that she heard people “feeling better” about sidewalks and benches, and also noted that a petition is being circulated to turn the “southern triangle” into a P-Patch community garden, though there is some question whether the space is large enough, she said.

Finally – at the conclusion of her third meeting, two of which had more than a few uncomfortable moments, she asked those in attendance to applaud themselves just for showing up.

As Gray had explained at the start of the meeting, Kiest will write up a report within the next month and a half or so; that will go to the Parks Department and will be posted on the FANNA website at The group is hoping to have an event May 24, probably at the park itself, to celebrate “all the energy and effort that everyone has put into this” — regardless of what side they are on.

And perhaps the most telling thing: It will be up to FANNA to decide what they want to pursue. Even with budget crunches, there is city money available — for example, the Parks Levy’s “Opportunity Fund” – but no option is likely to come without the requirement of an exhaustive fundraising and volunteer-pledge-gathering drive. The group plans to meet once Kiest’s report is out to talk about where to go from here.

As for park-change opponents, Jan Bailey came over and talked to me after the meeting ended, after most of the room cleared out. She said her group would also be deciding what it intends to do if any proposal for park changes should move forward.

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Happening now: 3rd design workshop for California Place Park Fri, 17 Apr 2009 02:03:58 +0000

We’re at Alki Community Center for the third and final “design workshop” in this stage of the process that could result in additions to little California Place Park next to Admiral Church (WSB sponsor) at California/Hill. Park-change opponents are here with bright lime-green mini-signs that say NO CHANGE TO PARK on one side, echoing the large sign held by Jan Bailey, greeting meeting attendees outside (then at the back of the room once the meeting began, per photo added above at 7:16 pm), while landscape architect Karen Kiest and members of Friends and Neighbors of North Admiral get ready to lead the meeting inside. About 35 people are here as the meeting starts; Steven Gray from FANNA just announced there will be a May 24 gathering, location TBA (probably at the park), to celebrate the time and energy everyone’s put into this – on both sides. Kiest will be presenting final design options for the park; we’ll add a note or two along the way as the meeting proceeds, before a separate, full writeup afterward. 8:41 PM UPDATE: The meeting just wrapped up; next steps, Kiest will write up a report within the next month and a half or so, and FANNA will decide what if anything they might pursue funding for – cost estimates presented here went all the way from less than $100,000 for one component of the “draft plan” to almost $400,000 for everything that could be done (including extending the park boundaries to green up a currently paved section of land on the north side that belongs to the park but is currently used as road). ADDED FRIDAY MORNING: While we’re working on the in-depth followup, here’s the design artwork shown at the meeting.

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Tonight: California Place Park, Sunrise Heights, WestSide Baby Thu, 16 Apr 2009 18:02:42 +0000 One last round of reminders about these events, from the WSB Events calendar (where even more events for tonight, and way beyond, are listed):

LAST CALIFORNIA PLACE PARK DESIGN WORKSHOP: 7 pm, Alki Community Center. The first workshop was tumultuous; the second one, at which potential designs for park additions were unveiled, was deemed productive; tonight, something closer to a final proposal is presented for discussion and feedback. After that, an entirely different process would ensue if Friends and Neighbors of North Admiral decides to pursue park additions — the search for funding.

SUNRISE HEIGHTS NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION: If we were to casually define this area, we’d say, between High Point and Gatewood, mostly east of 35th SW. If you live there, you’ve probably received a flyer about this; if not, check out the group’s website, which includes the agenda (plus word of their Poker Tournament this Saturday). Meeting’s at 7 pm, Southwest Precinct (map).

WESTSIDE BABY “SORTING FRENZY”: Hundreds of local families get clothing and other necessities through WestSide Baby, but before donated items can get to recipients, they have to be sorted, and WestSide Baby has monthly “sorting frenzy” parties with volunteer helpers. If you can lend a hand tonight, e-mail

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Admiral Neighborhood Association report #2: Clark, park … Wed, 15 Apr 2009 08:49:46 +0000 Also from Tuesday night’s Admiral Neighborhood Association meeting (see report #1, about a new concert series, here) – what City Councilmember Sally Clark had to say, on what she revealed was her first visit to an ANA meeting, plus a few other notes – read on:

“It’s unusual to find a neighborhood association I have NOT met with, either as a councilmember or (in a previous job),” Clark said as she began.

Before taking questions from the dozen-plus attendees, who were led by Jim Del Ciello in ANA president Mark Wainwright‘s absence, she offered quick updates on several major items, focused in particular on her area of emphasis as chair of the Planning, Land Use, and Neighborhoods Committee.

NEIGHBORHOOD PLAN UPDATES: Clark says it still hasn’t been decided just how many neighborhoods will get the chance to update their decade-old plans this time around. At the moment, she said, a “citywide check-in” is under way, but otherwise, Southeast Seattle remains the focus for more formal updating, with light rail about to change that area in a big way. Intriguingly, Clark said there was talk of possibly moving on to the “bus rapid transit” (Metro RapidRide) neighborhoods after that, but now she is wondering whether budget trouble might delay that service in West Seattle and elsewhere for a few years. (We’ll be checking on that at tomorrow night’s Morgan Community Association meeting, where a RapidRide update is part of the very busy agenda.)

MULTIFAMILY CODE: This is also known as the townhouse-zoning plan, though it’s about much more than just townhouses. Clark said the “lowrise” section of the code revisions – which do include townhouses – will be tackled first, starting around end of May/early June. “I think that’s where the fun is going to be,” Clark joked, with her trademark dry humor. She suggests watching the schedule for her committee, as she’s expecting extra meetings to be added while the multifamily code is under active review, and says some will be in “neighborhood locations.” One big thing on her list: “It’s really important to hear from folks about how the ideas we come up with to make things better might have other unintended consequences, which is what happened the first time around.” That’s an allusion to the rules that have resulted in “four-pack” or “six-pack” cookie-cutter townhouses with “auto courts.”

CITY MONEY WOES: We’ve been covering the latest “revenue forecast shortfall” and the first round of proposals for rebudgeting to reflect it; Clark says one thing to watch is how much of the city’s “rainy-day fund” the mayor decides to tap: “The question for him is, whether it’s raining right now, or will be raining really hard this fall, or given the 2011 projection, how hard it will be raining then …” Asked about the recent controversy regarding closed-door budget briefings with city staffers and small groups of councilmembers (which since have been discontinued), Clark didn’t take a strong position one way or another, observing that “it’s been a fascinating discussion” (she’s written about it on the city website). On one hand, she considers it a good thing that the mayor “wants to collaborate with council members” before going public with budget-cut proposals, “without people getting really wigged out (about possible cuts) immediately,” though she went on to say she could also understand the concern about lack of reporter/public access to the briefings. We asked about the role the council is taking, given that the budget-cut proposals are to officially come from the mayor; she said it seems like the council’s a little “late to the game” for not having, say, gone on the record a month or so ago with a resolution regarding what it hopes to see happen, but she says something like that may yet happen.

DELRIDGE “PROBLEM PROPERTIES” TOUR: Asked about followup on this (WSB coverage here; 4/3 photo of Clark and city planning boss Diane Sugimura at left), Clark didn’t offer specifics of what she’s proposing, but did discuss possibilities such as shortening the amount of time needed to process a complaint, or possibly making an exemption that does allow property owners to tear down rundown single-family homes even without an immediate replacement/rebuilding plan. “This only meets part of the problem, though,” she warned, “because you have to have gotten the attention of somebody who’s interested in the condition of their property in the first place.” West Seattle’s not alone with the problem and other cities are grapping with it, too, she noted, pointing to a New York Times magazine article last month about Cleveland.

Also at the Admiral Neighborhood Association meeting:

CALIFORNIA PLACE PARK DESIGN WORKSHOP PREVIEW: Attendees heard briefly and informally from Ann Limbaugh from Friends and Neighbors of North Admiral, the group that got a $15,000 city matching-funds grant to have an architect design possible additions to this small park by Admiral Church; the third and final “design workshop” for the proposal is coming up at 7 pm Thursday, Alki Community Center. “We’re really excited about what (landscape architect) Karen (Kiest) has done,” she said, adding that the controversy over possible park changes seems to “have settled down quite a bit” since the second design workshop (photo at left; WSB in-depth report here), when potential designs were shown — none including some of what had been rumored, like play equipment — “Some were surprised, some were stunned,” Limbaugh recalled, looking ahead to Thursday night’s meeting as an “opportunity for a really productive conversation.” (There is no money budgeted or raised so far for any changes to the park – that would have to happen after a design wins approval, which is ultimately up to the Parks Department, since it’s their land.)

NEXT ADOPT-A-STREET EVENT: Later this month — April 25th. More details to come!

Admiral Neighborhood Association meetings are usually the second Tuesday of the month, 7 pm, Admiral Church basement meeting room, everybody welcome.

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California Place Park design proposals: “Where’s the playspace?” Sun, 08 Mar 2009 06:59:17 +0000

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

The question came about two-thirds of the way through this morning’s design workshop — second in a series of 3 exploring possible changes at tiny California Place Park in North Admiral:

“We wondered what happened to the playspace — it’s gone,” said the spokesperson for one of the tables that had spent the previous half-hour reviewing and chronicling comments on the design proposals with which landscape architect Karen Kiest (photo above) had started the workshop.

That was no small question, for many reasons. The whole idea of possible changes to California Place Park, which currently is a triangle of grass and trees that some thought was part of the property of adjacent Admiral Congregational Church, began with a playground proposal.

It evolved to “natural playscape,” Kiest reminded the gathering of nearly 100 this morning after the “what happened” question, adding: “All of the concepts shown today do show how the park can feel bigger and have more uses … the areas that are called ‘soft spots’ could have a sandbox, a piece of art. We don’t see any play equipment.”

With that, a central part of the big controversy that has hovered over this little park seemed to shrink. But before we finish going down that road, for those who couldn’t make this morning’s workshop – which, as noted in our brief report earlier, was vastly calmer than the first one – we’ll show the three designs (thanks to Kiest for providing digital copies):

At the meeting’s start, a bit of background was shared by Steven Gray from Friends and Neighbors of North Admiral (FANNA), the neighborhood group that obtained a $15,000 city Neighborhood Matching Fund grant to hire a landscape architect for this design work.

The one point Gray tried to make was that this process was not initiated by the city Parks Department, though Parks has the final say on what happens, if anything — he pointed out that a group of friends, talking about the neighborhood about a year ago, first focused on the “south parcel,” a largely barren triangle of land across SW Hill, till learning that it was SDOT land and, at the time, offlimits for consideration. Google Street View shows the site:

View Larger Map

So they turned their focus to California Place, which isn’t readily recognizable as a park (no sign aside from a warning about picking up after dogs). And, Gray said, “At the end of the process, we present to (Parks) a conceptual design and they give us the nod to proceed or not. … But there’s a whole lot to get to that level (proceeding). Permits, fundraising, work party organization …”

The only major disruptive moment of this meeting came before Gray finished speaking; a woman said she wanted the chance to ask a question, and didn’t settle for being told that questions would be discussed in the small-table discussions, as Kiest, her staff, and FANNA members circulated. So Gray offered to go outside the room to listen to her question. A man at that point shouted, “We’d like no change!” but after that, the meeting proceeded relatively peacefully.

Next, Kiest’s presentation, starting with a summary of comments from the first meeting. She listed interest in benches, walkways, access for the disabled, keeping all the trees and perhaps adding more plantings, “safe edge” along the park’s border with busy California Avenue SW. As she had done during the first meeting, Kiest showed a photo of Stevens Place Triangle Park on Beacon Hill; park-change opponent Dennis Ross called out from the back of the room to say that the plantings in that park “are now dead,” but Kiest kept moving and didn’t address that point. (We’ll check on that park soon.)

Kiest went on to explain the “lack of clarity” about where park property really begins and ends, particularly a stretch of asphalt along its north side, adjacent to a parking area for a nearby apartment building. This happened, she said, because the park previously was road right-of-way purchased over periods of time (there were trolley and cable car lines in the area in the first half of the 20th century, like this, leading downhill to a ferry terminal, and that history was again mentioned as something that could be showcased in the park).

That’s not the only undefined edge, she added: “The park goes all the way to the church – the grading that slopes down is within the park site … There’s a significant amount of land on the north side that could make the park feel safer and larger.”

Segueing to the actual design, she concluded, “I was asked to look at concepts for the site. The Parks Department reviewed all the concepts this past Tuesday with Kellee (Jones, project liaison)’s team and they wanted to make sure that we included this range of concepts for you to look at.”

First, “existing conditions”:

Kiest outlined the slope on the site’s west side, adjacent to the church, and a rockery that was allowed by the Parks Dept., and again mentioned the asphalt-covered area on the north edge.

Then, the “starting point”:

Adding a bit to the existing conditions, Kiest said, this could be seen with a few changes – three benches, landscaping for a “safer edge,” sidewalk repair to fix buckling blamed on tree roots, and adding a curb-cut ramp (as exists at many streetcorners).

Next, “inner circle”:

Right now, Kiest said, it’s difficult to get “from point A to point B” inside the park – particularly in winter, with saturated, muddy ground. This would add “a walk connecting the walks … giving us the chance to keep the lawn or add landscape beds. I’d call it the ‘traditional Olmsted look'” — a reference to the much-lauded designer of so many Seattle parks — “… it could have a small plaza, same size as Benefit Park in Southeast Seattle, about 20 feet wide.” All concepts but “starting point,” she noted, would “stretch” the park “a little bit to the west” — not adding land, but better defining where the park site truly begins/ends.

Another common factor: Kiest proposes moving the bus stop north, so that it doesn’t dominate the view from the southeastern corner. “If you relocate the bus stop north, suddenly you can
see into the park, the seating area – we’re looking at trying to make the park feel bigger.” You can see the stop in this photo we took earlier this week:

Next concept, “outer circle”:

This, Kiest said, “pushes the circle outside the existing walkway … and includes a place on the west side that could be a sandbox. … This is a straightforward thing within the existing park, retaining trees, retaining existing lawn.”

Next, “full stretch”:

This one was Kiest’s exercise “to see how much of the park we could use.” Besides reclaiming the asphalt-covered area, moving the bus stop, etc., it would include a “meander walk” in the southwestern section, and “the widest lawn … goes out beyond the trees … it IS a change beyond the existing conditions, but it shows how the park can feel larger.” It would also include an added garden. Kiest went on to say, “There is no magic, it’s not like we are making the property bigger – what we want to keep trying to do is, how to draw (the park) in a way that provides new opportunities and respects the existing park.”

Before finishing her presentation, she also presented a brief look at the “southern triangle” that FANNA’s organizers had originally eyed, recounting that while it’s still owned by SDOT, the Parks Department has taken responsibility for “managing” it:

While Kiest noted that FANNA isn’t interested in “stretching the project too far,” she felt it important to note the fact the two triangles together seem to make a whole and could have a complementary relationship – maybe the north site more about history and culture, south about nature; she drew laughter by briefly putting up the yin/yang symbol and saying the two sites have that kind of relationship. As for specifics, she didn’t offer much aside from suggesting the southern site “could be more of a bioswale that picks up water off the street and draings it,” since the neighborhood has a recurring problem with rainwater flowing downhill and deadending in what Kiest called “an area of wonderfully flat, bad existing drainage.” She pointed out that some have asked about P-Patch possibilities for the site, and she had concerns about the size, but said she would “leave (that) discussion to someone else.”

With that, the discussion broke into the small groups, table by table:

While the tables discussed the proposed designs and what they’d like to see in the park, FANNA’s Manuela Slye watched over two tables of small children making art:

After half an hour, each table was asked to have a spokesperson list a couple highlights of the discussion (with all written comments going to Kiest and FANNA for consideration in the next step of the process).

First table liked the idea of fixing the sidewalk, but expressed concern about the costs of any work on this park — “money’s tight, we’re closing schools.” They suggested perhaps a “phase two” somewhere down the road, when the economy improved; Kiest replied that she’s worked on many projects with multiple phases. They also liked the concept of replacing the asphalt area with greenscape.

Next table thought “a bench might be OK” and then asked the question: “We wonder, what happened to the playspace, it’s gone.” When Kiest explained the project had evolved, the table spokesperson pressed, “But why? That’s how this whole thing started.” Kiest’s reply: “What the group asked for in its proposal is a ‘natural playscape’. Working for them, as professionals, we are talking about making the site more enjoyable … We want children to feel safe and comfortable in our parks.”

At that point, a man elsewhere in the room interjected, “Taking over the asphalt can’t be done. You can’t limit the access to those properties.”

Kiest had a ready answer: “In even the ‘full stretch’ proposal, the asphalt (owned by an adjacent property) remains 44 feet wide, which is what’s required for access to a one-sided parking area.” She added that the Parks Department once had an agreement allowing the asphalt but it’s no longer in effect and they’d like it removed.

Another table thought the asphalt area could be turned into a “dog area,” and expressed interest in historical signs about the ferry history.

The spokesperson for the next table said that six of the seven people there did not want any changes to the park, but would like to see it better maintained. He added: “If the process could start again from the beginning, we might be open to some changes, but we think it has gone too fast.”

Next table’s spokesperson: “We like change. The current park is not that inviting. We like the ‘inner circle,’ expanding the park to the north, moving the bus stop.”

Dennis Ross spoke next, saying moving the bus stop “is not a good idea .. it would block access for property owners, as it is a heavily used bus area, and people would have to walk further — many walk several blocks already.” He also voiced “concern about the city’s economy … who’s going to pay for all this maintenance?” and reaffirmed support for the park as-is.

Next table: “Keep it simple – partly because of maintenance. Extending to the north is a good idea (but) we have concern about a sandbox because of animals in the area – cats, dogs, raccoons …” They said they would support adding benches.

Table after that: “We hadn’t previously known what part of this was city property. We like recapturing the asphalt area … That big intersection of asphalt there is rather treacherous.”

The following table suggested a kiosk in the south triangle with “pictures and story” about the area’s history.

Then a first-of-its-kind suggestion from the next table: “We’d like to see the park renamed after the former principal of West Seattle High, Gordon Hannaford, who was killed there while crossing the street.” (We don’t have the exact date of that crash, but it happened after Mr. Hannaford’s retirement in 1970; according to Seattle Public Schools‘ online history of WSHS, he had been with the school for more than 40 years. The naming suggestion was made by Mel Terrana.) That drew many murmurs of assent. That table also was interested in “maximizing the grass.”

Next table liked reclaiming the asphalt and fixing the sidewalks, while also expressing concern about cost, and about the possibility that too many improvements to the park would “invite vagrants.”

The table after that specifically opposed a sandbox but liked the asphalt reclamation and moving the bus stop.

With the table reports complete, Kiest outlined what happens next – “getting closer to a single drawing” at the 7 pm third and final workshop on April 16, at which she also promised to have “cost estimates so people can understand the priorities … and figure out what’s most important to you.”

The meeting ended with something that would have been unimaginable at the tumultuous first one – a round of applause. Some stayed afterward for one more look at the designs on an easel, and were still chatting as they moved out into the partly sunny morning.

Side notes: Our earlier coverage mentioned a man suffering chest pains during the meeting, requiring a call to 911. FANNA’s Ann Limbaugh posted a comment after that report saying he went to the hospital but is doing OK, and expressing thanks for those who helped. … FANNA has posted its recap of this morning here … Our previous coverage is all archived here, newest to oldest (so the older articles are below this one, when you go to that page).

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Update: California Place Park design workshop #2 Sat, 07 Mar 2009 18:44:29 +0000

ORIGINAL 10:44 AM UPDATE: The meeting room at Alki Community Center is standing-room only again as the second design workshop for the proposed California Place Park project (WSB coverage archived here, newest to oldest) gets under way. “Today is about concepts,” says landscape architect Karen Kiest as she begins her presentation of possible designs for potential improvements to the park. She has asked not to be interrupted (which she was last time). (15 minutes into the meeting, that’s only happened a couple times.) 11:12 AM UPDATE: Kiest has finished her presentation. The crowd stayed quiet and is now discussing the project in small groups. We have electronic copies of the four proposed options and will use them in our full report; here’s a PDF of what is being reviewed at the tables now, showing all four (plus a look at the “southern triangle” of SDOT-owned land that is southwest of the park and across Hill). 11:34 AM UPDATE: If you are near Alki Community Center you may see medics – someone is having chest pains in the lobby and 911 has been called. 12:04 PM UPDATE: The meeting ended at noon as scheduled. Much different than last time – no disruptions – tables had lots of suggestions and feedback – short round of applause at the very end. Most popular idea, reclaiming the northern section of the park parcel which apparently was paved over long ago and isn’t even currently recognizable as part of the park. Full story to come later. (We counted almost 100 people there, by the way, including two tables of very young kids working on art – also very quietly! – during the meeting.)

SATURDAY NIGHT NOTE: The full story is still in progress. Barring breaking news, will be done by 11 pm, likely sooner.

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California Place Park controversy: The “no change” documents Fri, 06 Mar 2009 19:23:23 +0000 By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Just under 24 hours from now — at 10:30 Saturday morning — three potential designs for possible changes at California Place Park in North Admiral will be made public.

The group that obtained a $15,000 city grant to pay for those designs to be created, Friends and Neighbors of North Admiral (FANNA), says the format of tomorrow morning’s workshop will be similar to the last one — a presentation by landscape architect Karen Kiest, followed by small-group discussions at tables around the room.

The design workshops under way now follow a series of public meetings in various formats and under various auspices, dating all the way back to the first word of potential changes, presented at the Admiral Neighborhood Association meeting last June.

FANNA created a website several months ago to make its case. Opponents of park changes do not have an organized online presence, but have mounted a major in-person campaign in the neighborhood, including a seven-page handout.

In comments after our report on the first design workshop in February, Lance wrote:

I was given the packet for the “no change to park” and they make some very valid arguments. Also some of the facts in it seem legit. I’d like to see some actual evidence that this information is false. Seems like there’s a bunch of people so polarized to either side as to not see whats real or not. I’ve already shown my opinion from a cost standpoint but if these “facts” are true, how can this park project even be moving forward? If I were a city parks representative I’d want to investigate both sides and see what really went on. To make a genuine opinion I’d like to know what’s real and what’s made up. Real info folks not just something you heard or whatnot.

We hadn’t seen the “packet” and said so. Lance in turn offered to scan and e-mail it, which he did. It has not appeared anywhere online that we know of. Here’s a screengrab of the cover:

You can see the 7-page document here, as provided to us by Lance.

Not long after he provided it to us, park-change opponent Jan Bailey provided us with printed copies of supplementary documents, even before we asked for them – she gave them to us at the last ANA meeting.

So, looking at all those, here’s a breakdown, with information from our past coverage, online research, and/or responses from FANNA, received from Matthew Slye. We will say in advance, if there is a point you think we missed, that interests you, please leave a comment and we will follow up.

Some sections of the documents are statements of their author’s opinions, so there’s really no “breakdown” we could provide. But wherever we did see something that could be looked into, we have noted it with “What we found.”

The first page following the “NO CHANGE TO PARK” cover is a letter, no name visible on the scan, from someone identifying her/himself as a six-year member of the Lafayette (Elementary School) Playground Committee and 14-year North Admiral member, with two children, living one block from California Place Park.

They write: “I support NO CHANGE TO CALIFORNIA PLACE PARK for many reasons.” Here’s the breakdown on the reasons cited:

First reason from the letter: “California Place Park is on a busy street. Is this a safe place to encourage small children to play?”

What we found: No question California Avenue SW is a busy street. The city’s traffic-flow map does not break down the difference between traffic flow on California north of Admiral and south of Admiral, where the daily volume is listed as 14,300 vehicles.

Second reason from the letter: “Do we really need this change? There are several play areas within 3 blocks of the California Place Park location. West Seattle also has the greatest play place of all, Alki Beach. (My kids 8 and 11 years old, still love to play there.)”

What we found: If there are play areas within three blocks, they are not public. The nearest park is Hamilton Viewpoint, 0.4 miles (five blocks), according to Google Maps. Lafayette Elementary is listed as 0.3 miles by Google Maps, three blocks on the map to Admiral, and another half-block to the school (the public play area is at the end of the fourth block). Hiawatha’s play area is roughly kitty-corner from the south end of Lafayette, so that’s 4 blocks. The sandy stretch of Alki is about a mile away, depending on which way you go.

Third reason from the letter: “Will this serve the community? As a member of Lafayette’s Playground committee, I understand how much money these projects cost, and I feel the money would better serve the community if it were used for street lights, curbs with proper drainage and sidewalks. There are blocks that need more light and many basements flood every year because the water from Ferry Ave SW (one block from the proposed site) has no place to go but down driveways and into basements. Is there a better way to serve the community?”

What we found: Right now, the only money budgeted for this project is the $15,000 Neighborhood Matching Fund grant FANNA applied for and received. That’s from a pot of money budgeted by the city each year for projects sought by citizen groups. (The NMF is explained here; this grant was made under its Small and Simple Fund, explained here.) Some NMF money has gone to sidewalk projects over the years. But someone has to propose and apply for the project. Lights and drainage are Seattle City Light and Seattle Public Utilities responsibilities. As for where money to implement any park changes would come from — nothing is budgeted — the city has made its budgeting decisions for this year. There is a chance money from the voter-approved parks levy (passed last November) could be sought for projects like this; that money is an added tax approved by voters specifically for park projects.

Fourth reason: “ENVIRONMENT – The more green spaces we keep in the city the better.”

What we found: The proposed designs for park changes won’t be shown till the Saturday morning meeting, so that’s when attendees will see whether there is any proposal to change the site from greenspace status (and we will publish images of the proposed designs here on WSB shortly afterward). The most recent post on the FANNA website says in part:

Our original application to the Department of Neighborhoods uses the word “playground”, however in all subsequent meetings, documents and conversations we have been very clear to describe the project as a natural playscape with the goal of enhancing the green space and incorporating natural elements to entice children of all ages. … The ideas expressed by many of the residents of the Admiral neighborhood show there is a strong desire to create a natural and green space that welcomes and accommodates a cross section of its residents and yes, that does include children. California Place Park as it exists now is merely an extension of the yard for the church it sits next to – at least that’s what most residents we spoke with believed about the area before we applied for our grant.”

The next page of the “NO CHANGE TO PARK” 7-page scanned document is a photocopy of a TIME Magazine article dated December 8, 2008, by Dr. Sanjay Gupta, titled “Slender in the Grass.”

What we found: There are no notations on the photocopy about its purpose for inclusion. Here’s the article so you can read it yourself.

The next page is headed “To West Seattle Herald Op-Ed” but is a printed document, not a newspaper clipping. If it ran in the newspaper, a link is not coming up online, but you can read it in its entirety in the uploaded document here. It’s signed by Dennis Ross, a longtime Admiral neighborhood activist who also has been actively opposing potential California Place Park changes. Its subhead is “How many wrongs does it take to make a right?” and lists 3 “wrongs.”

His first “wrong” lists Parks Department and City slogans and says, “despite these claims of building cohesiveness, the California Place Park project and process has divided our community.”

What we found: As reported here and elsewhere (here’s our coverage archive, newest to oldest), certainly there have been contentious, tense meetings regarding this proposal. Admiral community members will have to judge otherwise what they believe to be the project/process’ effects.

Second: “Errors in application process,” which Ross lists as:
a) Erroneous claims of sufficient community outreach – most neighbors of the park project were unaware of any proposal

What we found: The notification issue has come up before and it’s hard to get this one beyond a he said/he said. So here is FANNA’s response from Matthew Slye, who acknowledges that the group did not visit the multifamily buildings that are next to the park site:

We have records of presenting the idea to the Admiral Neighborhood Association in early June 2008, posting our flyers around the neighborhood, at local businesses, and at the community centers (Hiawatha & Alki) (pre-public meeting series) June-August 2008, your press coverage on the WSB, and then posting a sign (in partnership with Parks) at the park location with flyers at the sign. Typically, our signs/flyers do not stay up for long. Even as early as July, our signs came down after only a couple of days. Upon learning from the parks department of a concerned neighbor, we attempted to reach out to her via email. Ann sent an e-mail directly to Jan Bailey on July 31, 2008 … Our group did not go door to door to multifamily complexes or apartment buildings adjacent to the park for security and access reasons. We had several condo owners attend our early pre-grant series of meetings and asked them to spread the word with their neighbors in their buildings. We do have record of going door to door at single family residences back in May 2008, July 2008, and again in January 2009.

The park, if you’re not familiar with the site, is surrounded by multifamily buildings. A 12-unit apartment building is across SW Hill to the south; a 6-unit building borders its northwestern edge, adjacent to Admiral Church. As for the timeline, the first mention in local media was here on WSB on June 8, 2008, in a brief preview for the next night’s Admiral Neighborhood Association meeting, after seeing it mentioned on the agenda. ANA’s monthly meetings are open to the public; we cover most of them and ran a followup item a few days later, mentioning Manuela Slye‘s presentation to the group.

Regarding: Ross’s point b, “unfounded references of community support”: He writes, “Friends and Neighbors of North Admiral used the Admiral Congregational United Church of Christ as a reference on their application form for matching funds, stating that they had the full support of the church. In fact, the Church was always neutral on the subject.”

What we found: That is addressed in the next page of the NO CHANGE TO PARK document, which is a printout of e-mail from Admiral Church congregation president Lee Kramer, dated September 18, 2008, saying “I have been informed by a member of our congregation that an application form from the group that is supporting changes to a park next to our church at the corner of California SW and SW Hill in West Seattle contains some misinformation. Our congregation is not supporting either side in this controversy, for the simple fact that we have members on both sides of the issue. Please remove any language from either support documentation or opposing documentation that would indicate otherwise.”

September 18 was almost a month after FANNA got word its city grant application had been approved (August 22 WSB report here). For FANNA, this is Matthew Slye’s explanation of the situation with Admiral Church:

From the very beginning (May 2008) our group approached the Admiral UCC Pastor, Terry Teigen. His initial reaction was very positive and encouraging. After our initial conversation, Terry referred us over to the church moderator Lee Kramer, since Terry was leaving the congregation soon. We wrote a letter to Lee Kramer which was followed up by another conversation between Manuela and Lee. Lee was very supportive of the idea to have a community conversation, and in fact he attended one of our early outreach meetings (in August 2008) at the West Seattle Library. We included commentary about our interactions with the church leaders in our Department of Neighborhoods Small and Simple Neighborhood matching fund grant application, expressing our interpretation of their “support.” We respect Lee’s later decision to keep his UCC congregation “neutral” in respect to “supporting” us since they have congregants supporting and opposing our idea of park improvements, just as he apparently expressed in his e-mail to City officials in September. Later in September, we wrote a letter to Lee Kramer to explain our comments from our grant application in the hope of clarifying the basis for our “understanding” of their position for support of our efforts.

Hopping back to page 5, this one is a one-page letter from Bailey and Ross, addressed to city councilmembers Sally Clark and Tom Rasmussen, Department of Neighborhoods director Stella Chao, DON’s Neighborhood Services coordinator for the Southwest district Stan Lock, and Parks Superintendent Tim Gallagher. It alludes to several attachments, most of which were in the supplementary documents Jan Bailey provided us with, as mentioned earlier. Here are verbatim transcriptions of the letter’s four paragraphs, each followed by what we found:


The “NO CHANGE TO THE PARK” campaign was born out of community need. Upon reading in the West Seattle Blog about Manuela Slye’s dream of a playground in North Admiral. Her formation of the FANNA group and application for Matching Funds for California Place Park. See Attach #1. I went into the neighborhood to ask them if they knew anything about this. NONE DID!! I took my 1st signature on the back of an envelope. Thus the 371 signatures for “NO CHANGE TO THE PARK” see Attach. #2.

What we found: As noted above, ours was the first news organization to report on this; no one else had a reporter at the ANA meeting where Slye’s first presentation was made, and we just happened to be there because we routinely cover as many neighborhood council meetings around West Seattle as we possibly can. “Attach #1,” a photocopy of which Bailey provided, was a printed copy of our June 25 report (see it here). “Attach #2,” which was not provided (nor requested), would have been the petition signatures, which Bailey told us at last month’s design workshop now number more than 640.

Second paragraph from the letter:

After much research it was found that A) Manuela Slye has a preschool in her home (See Attach #3) less than 1 block from the California Place Park. Her home business is a conflict of interest. B) Of the 13 pledges to the Matching Funds 5 come from the Slye Family. Manuela pledging twice. See attach #4. Viveros is Manuela maiden name. Thus Iris Viveros pledge is family. see attach #5. C) FANNA stated in their Matching Funds that they had the full support of the Admiral Congregational United Church of Christ. See Attach #6. This was not the case and only after FANNA was awarded the $15,000 was this error brought to the attention of the church and city officials. see attach #7.

What we found: Point A: Manuela Slye identified herself at the June 22 ANA meeting as operator of Cometa Playschool, according to our story. We had run a short item three months earlier about its establishment (WSB March 25 report). Attachment #3 is a photocopy of a page from the state “License Query System” website, with Cometa Playschool LLC’s license number, address, and “governing people,” under which Manuela Slye’s name appears. The address on the page is, according to Google Maps, approximately one and a half blocks from the park’s northwestern edge. The address is not on the Cometa Playschool website, and Matthew Slye explains, “Our playschool location is home based. There are WA State regulations restricting the publication of an address for home-based businesses, which is why we refrain from publishing our address.”

As for whether this represents a “conflict of interest,” the Neighborhood Matching Fund guidelines published on the city website do not stipulate provisions for a “conflict of interest.” They do mention businesses several times as prospective participants in the NMF process, including this part of the criteria on which applications are evaluated: “Promotes interaction and builds community between different groups, such as renters, business owners, seniors, or different ethnic or racial groups.” The guidelines say that awards will not be made to “individual businesses.”

What we found regarding Point B: The photocopy of the “Match Pledge Form For: California Place Playground” that we have lists 12 people/entities, plus one line pointing to “various neighbors (see attachment)” – an attachment we do not have. Manuela Slye is indeed listed twice, once as an individual pledging 48 hours of “project planning and fundraising,” second time as “Cometa Playschool LLC c/o Manuela Slye” pledging $300 worth of art supplies. The other three family members on the pledge form are Matthew Slye, pledging 48 hours of project planning and fundraising; Teresa Slye Design, pledging 20 hours of project design and architecture consulting; and “Los Flacos – Mexican Folk Band c/o Iris Viveros” pledging a music and dance performance worth $300. Referring again to the Neighborhood Matching Fund guidelines (7-page document), there is no stipulation that pledgers cannot be related to those organizing the project. This is that section of those guidelines:

Following are requirements for eligible match.

•The amount and type of match must be appropriate to the needs of the project.

•At least 25% of the match must come from the neighborhood or identified community rather than from foundations, the County, School District, State, or other entities.

•All volunteer labor is valued at $15 per hour.

•Professional services are valued at the reasonable and customary retail value of the product or service, not to exceed $75 per hour.

•Volunteer time spent on fundraising, planning, design and organizing will be counted starting on the application due date. Ten hours of volunteer time may be credited for preparation of a Small and Simple Project Fund or Large Project Fund application.

Funds from other City of Seattle sources cannot be counted as match. City of Seattle Community
Development Block Grant (CDBG), Pro-Parks, and Cumulative Reserve Funds, as well as City
staff services, are included in this prohibition.

When we asked FANNA to respond to this point, Matthew Slye wrote, “Our extended family is large and very active in community work. A couple of them agreed to donate their time and expertise our California Place Park vision & exploration. It is important to note that all volunteers listed in our Small and Simple neighborhood matching fund application are just that, VOLUNTEERS. They are pledging their time for FREE. None of the volunteers are compensated monetarily by ANY grant funds.”

To Point C, regarding the church, that has already been addressed in this article.

Back to the text of the Bailey/Ross letter – this is the next (third) paragraph:

This group, FANNA was not forthcoming with this neighborhood. Even after I told Pam Kliment she said well “what is your address and we will let FANNA know so they can get the word out”. See Attach #8 FANNA never came to the building. Then there is the discrepancy as to whether the Parks Department supports the project or not. See Attach #9. There are also boundary issues with the park. Are all 10,500 sq. ft. useable? This is a small special interest group whose support is not widespread throughout this community. Did anyone check their references? ie the Church etc. How can the Admiral Neighborhood Association be FANNA’s Fiscal sponsor and still support the whole community when there is a split on this project? The Book written by the Admiral Neighborhood children. These are Manuela’s own children! Look at the book cover! See Attach #10.

What we found: Attachment #8 is e-mail dated August 12, 2008, between Bailey and Kliment, who works for the city Parks Department as a Neighborhood Matching Fund Liaison. The copy provided to us does not include Bailey’s original note but includes Kliment’s response:

Hello Jan,
The meetings that took place so far were meetings of neighbors, not official City meetings. They were simply meetings to talk about ideas for the space. I am sorry that the steering committee has not contacted you or your neighbors about their ideas and will pass on your request to them. It would be helpful to know roughly where you live, so they can double check their efforts to get the proverbial word out.
As we talked about on the phone, if their grant application is approved by the Department of Neighborhoods, there will be a series of meetings co-sponsored with Parks to talk about any site development.
Thanks for writing and keep in touch,

Atop that, Bailey’s reply dated 8/11/08:

Hi Pam, I live 1/4 blk from California Place Park in the Park Admiral Condos. We are around the block from the SDOT site but some of the upper level units look down on it. Jan

and Kliment’s acknowledgment “Thanks,” which is the end of the string dated 8/12/08.

This also was addressed earlier in this article, with Matthew Slye acknowledging that “Our group did not go door to door to multifamily complexes or apartment buildings adjacent to the park for security and access reasons.” He also said the group had sent Bailey e-mail on July 31, which would have been before her exchange with Kliment.

What we found, continued: Attachment #9 is in two parts: First is an excerpt from the “Application Review Comments” for the project, reviewed by Emma Moreno of the city. Under “What are the weaknesses of the organization/project?” Moreno, who is with the Department of Neighborhoods, wrote:

There is a chance that Parks Department does not support the project at this time due to the size and location of the park. The Park in California Avenue and SW Hill is between a green area and the parking lot that belongs to a Church and right next to a busy arterial. There is a bus stop in the park and the park can be easily confused by being part of the Church’s parking lot.

The second part of Attachment #9 is an excerpt from “Interdepartmental Review for Small and Simple Projects Fund,” also related to the application for the $15,000 city matching fund. This review was done by Kliment from Parks. Under “Project Feasibility,” and the question, “Does your department support this project?” the answer is “Yes.” The next section elaborates:

2. If your department does support this project, are there issues/areas of concern which have not been addressed by the applicant?
[Kliment reply] The goal of the project is to hire a landscape architect to work with the community and the parks department to develop a concept plan for renovation of the playfield. We are very happy to see this project application and support it completely. There are no play areas within one half-mile of the project.

As noted earlier in this article, Hiawatha and Lafayette are within half a mile.

The highest-level public comment on the Parks Department’s view of California Place Park, to date, came from Parks Superintendent Tim Gallagher, who spoke at the November public meeting that preceded the design workshop series. We recorded video of what he told that crowd – here, as originally included in our story about that meeting, is the clip:

What we found, continued: Regarding Admiral Neighborhood Association being the “fiscal sponsor” for FANNA – it is not. Urban Sparks, which works with projects like this (and worked with the Alki Statue of Liberty Plaza Project), is its financial sponsor; ANA is not empowered to be a “fiscal sponsor” as it does not have 501(c)3 designation. ANA president Mark Wainwright says the group has not taken any formal position on the proposal for changes at the park. He and another ANA officer, Jim Del Ciello, are among those listed on the Match Pledge Form, as private individuals; Wainwright pledged 10 hours volunteer work as “project consultation and mentorship”; Del Ciello pledged 48 volunteer hours of “project planning, fundraising.”

What we found, continued: Attachment #10 starts with an excerpt from the grant application, with this highlighted: “See attachment #1: Cover of the book titled “The Important Book About Playgrounds,” written by children from the Admiral Neighborhood. The actual book is available upon request. The second part is a photocopy of the cover of that “book,” which is the one that Manuela Slye showed at her first Admiral Neighborhood Association appearance last June. It has the title as mentioned and says “by Audriana, Sabrina and Giovanni Slye.” Bailey also attached a printout of a Federal Way News obituary from February 2008 for Harry Slye, listing Matthew as a grandchild and Audriana, Sabrina, and Giovanni as grandchildren.

Matthew Slye answered our request for comment on this point: “Our children are residents of Admiral Neighborhood. Our NMF application does say the book is written by our children. In fact, one of the attachments to our application is the actual book cover – with the title and the authors listed – The Most Important Thing About Playgrounds by Audriana, Sabrina, and Giovanni Slye. The original complete book (not just the book cover) was borrowed by the Department of Neighborhoods back in September 2008. Emma Moreno now has it.”

Back to the text of the Bailey/Ross letter, it concludes, “I believe that the signature campaign will show that there is more support for NO CHANGE TO THE PARK. For whatever reason, be it, too close to a busy street, love for the old growth trees, need for open green space, not a good use of tax dollars. Whatever the reasons these people (Attach #2) must not be ignored.
Thank You,
Jan Bailey
Dennis Ross”

As mentioned earlier, Attach. #2 was not included but would be copies of the “NO CHANGE TO PARK” petition signatures. Bailey told us at the February 3 design workshop that the number of signatures was up to 640 (that is included in our story about the event).

The last page of the document scanned and sent by Lance was this Seattle Times article about a playground project in NewHolly.

That’s the end of the NO CHANGE TO PARK document. Again, we published and examined it at a reader’s suggestion – here’s the link again; thanks to Lance for scanning it, thanks to Jan Bailey for offering the supplementary documents, and thanks to Matthew Slye for responding on behalf of FANNA.

Bottom line right now – Tomorrow morning, 10:30 am-noon at Alki Community Center, the design proposals will go public, and those in attendance will be the first to comment on them. We will publish our report later in the day and will include electronic copies of the designs if available, photos of them if not. The date is already set for the third design workshop – Thursday 4/16, 7 pm, also at Alki Community Center. As for what happens after that: The Parks Department has ultimate authority on what is done with the property, since it’s an official city park. There would have to be a formal proposal for any change to be made, and funding would have to come from somewhere, as the NMF grant obtained by FANNA covers only the $15,000 design cost. Until and unless a design is chosen and pursued, it’s impossible to say how much money it would cost. We’ll continue following this story, of course, and as we wrote up near the top, if there is a point you feel has been missed here, please let us know and we will look into that too.

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California Place Park proposed “design options” to debut Saturday Thu, 05 Mar 2009 21:25:07 +0000

This Saturday, 10:30-noon, is the second of two “design workshops” for potential changes at California Place Park in North Admiral. After the contentious first workshop (WSB coverage here), the landscape architect whose services are funded by a $15,000 Neighborhood Matching Fund grant has come up with proposals to display, according to a new post on the project website that’s maintained by Friends and Neighbors of North Admiral, the group that procured the grant:

Karen Kiest has done a wonderful job representing the feedback from the community and has created several beautiful options that contain ideas for the neighborhood to review and provide input. We are very excited about what she has to share. There are no plastic playstructures, no climbing walls on the church, no holes or giant sand pits and the trees are all intact! The design options are natural, open, welcoming and timeless – a perfect compliment to the Admiral neighborhood.

If you are closely interested in this project, check back here at WSB tonight Friday, when we will be publishing a longer story including the claims that have been made by park-change opponents and responses from FANNA. In the meantime, we wanted to get out this reminder, since the project has been so closely watched, and the workshop is day after tomorrow (Alki Community Center, 10:30 am-noon Saturday; past coverage is archived here). ADDED THURSDAY NIGHT: We asked FANNA’s Ann Limbaugh about the format planned for the workshop; she says it will be similar to the last one – landscape architect Kiest will make a presentation, people will discuss in small groups at tables.

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Admiral Neighborhood Association: Tunnel talk; park process Thu, 12 Feb 2009 07:57:36 +0000 Highlights from last night’s Admiral Neighborhood Association meeting: WSDOT reps made a guest appearance as part of their tour of neighborhood groups to share “what’s next” re: the tunnel proposed to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct‘s so-called “mile in the middle” Central Waterfront section. Also, a recap of last week’s California Place Park “design workshop” meeting featured a few tense moments, with both supporters and opponents of park change in the room. Details on both, and one other note, ahead:

VIADUCT/TUNNEL UPDATE: The WSDOT reps say they’re in the final stages of making a map that will explain the West Seattle pathways into downtown, if the current plan (announced four weeks ago today) goes through. That plan would call for the tunnel to be open by 2015 (the actual tunnel-boring would take less than a year and a half of the four-year construction period), and for The Viaduct to stay open for almost the entire construction period — following demolition, construction of the “waterfront promenade” is envisioned to start around 2017.

They mentioned the Battery Street Tunnel is likely going to be closed and decommissioned as part of the new plan, because the currently envisioned tunnel route bypasses it. Taking the BST out of operation saves some money that previously had been slated to be spent on upgrading its safety systems.

One hot money topic right now – Will the Legislature authorize a King County “motor vehicle excise tax” to raise money for additional transit? The presentation given to the Admiral group suggested the tax would cost the average car owner $100 (assuming your car is worth $10K). One honest assessment of the tax’s chances: “It’s a moving target right now.” (If you want to let your state legislators know what you think about it, their contact information is linked from here.)

Asked about the Spokane Street Viaduct – which, they reminded, is a city project, not a state project – they mentioned the contract for its first major component, the eastbound 4th Avenue offramp, has just been “let,” and that it’s still $30 million short of total funding for the project, but it’s hoped that will be made up by federal “stimulus funding.”

CALIFORNIA PLACE PARK: One week after the contentious “design workshop” meeting, leading supporters and opponents of potential changes to this small park were in the same room again. Matthew Slye recapped the meeting on behalf of Friends and Neighbors of North Admiral (FANNA), the group that obtained a $15,000 city Department of Neighborhoods matching-fund grant to design possible park improvements.

Slye was asked if plans had been made for the format of the next design workshop, 10:30 am March 7 at Alki Community Center, to attempt to avoid the disruptions of what happened last week. He said the format has not yet been worked out. He also was asked why the postcard announcing the design workshops was sent by the Parks Department, if the project is not under Parks’ umbrella at this point; he said the 2,500 postcards that were mailed were a “gift” from that department.

One attendee suggested that someone other than landscape architect Karen Kiest lead/facilitate the next meeting, suggesting she was not prepared to handle the disruptions and get the meeting back on track, nor to deal with the sentiment that “people went there thinking they were going to be heard, and there was nobody from (the Parks Department) to hear them.”

Jan Bailey, who has led the campaign against park changes, repeated her contention that park neighbors had not been notified early in the process, which FANNA has disputed. Slye noted that matching-funds grants are open to any applicants and do not require a public outreach or comment process.

Bailey said she is upset that the three-meeting design process will end with some sort of proposed design for park changes: “For people who want no change to the park, that is not a choice” — it will be one of the alternatives considered at the next meeting, but by the third meeting, there will be some sort of design.

“We’re not going to pay (Kiest) to draw ‘nothing’,” Slye agreed. “You don’t need a drawing for ‘no change,’ that’s what is there now.” But right now, he added, “there is no design .. this talk of a playground, and trees being cut down, is misinformation.”

ANA vice president Jim Del Ciello, leading the meeting in the absence of president Mark Wainwright, pointed out that in the end “you’re all neighbors and you’re going to have to get along,” before the discussion closed.

PREPAREDNESS AND PARKS: The ANA also heard from Aaron Bert, who recently joined the Parks Department to handle emergency management – in particular, how the city’s parkland and Parks-operated buildings will be called into action if and when major disaster strikes. (The resources of the department total more than 6,000 acres, 1,000 staff members, and 150 buildings, by the way.)

Bert explained that a “vulnerability analysis” is beginning right now to figure out which community centers need work to be able to serve as sites for shelter and help; its findings will lead to a plan that could result in some work being done at centers that are deemed vital for preparedness purposes. In the short run, if there is a disaster, the centers would each be evaluated for “habitability,” and then opened to the community providing no major problems rendered them unsafe.

For Hiawatha Community Center, he agreed to work with ANA to see about storing their community emergency bag – something that many neighborhoods around West Seattle have been putting together, as part of an effort coordinated by Cindi Barker (as we first reported last year) – at the center. Bert also urged families to have their own disaster bag/kits ready, someplace they can be grabbed and taken along if you’re suddenly on the run.

The Admiral Neighborhood Association meets the second Tuesday of each month, 7 pm in the basement meeting room of Admiral Congregational Church, and all are welcome.

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