West Seattle, Washington
Seattle Parks wants to be sure you know that Hiawatha Community Center has a week-plus closure ahead: Saturday (February 17th) through Sunday, February 25th, Hiawatha is scheduled to shut down so its floors can be refinished. (Note that ALL city-run community centers, and many other Parks facilities, will be closed Monday for Presidents Day – full list here.)
Six weeks after the City Council signed off on the deal for Bruce Stotler‘s Schmitz Park-neighboring property, so that it’ll eventually become part of the park, he signed the final paperwork in a small ceremony at the Southwest Seattle Historical Society‘s Log House Museum headquarters.
With Stotler in the celebratory photo above are, from left, Chip Nevins from Seattle Parks, Vicki Schmitz-Block, former City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen – who had worked for years to help make it happen – and SWSHS vice president Nancy Sorensen. The photos are courtesy of SWSHS executive director Jeff McCord, who says, “The Southwest Seattle Historical Society was pleased to host the signing at the Log House Museum, and we believe property owner Bruce Stotler is doing a great thing for our West Seattle community!” Backstory is in our previous coverage – here, here, and here.
For the second year, the city invited park/street grant ideas through what it calls “Your Voice, Your Choice” – and citywide, it’s just been announced, 1,000 new ideas came in, in addition to almost 400 ideas getting rolled over from last year. Next up, you’re invited to “project development” meetings to help narrow the list down (which is also being done right now through city staff’s feasibility reviewing). Here’s where and when the meetings are in District 1 (West Seattle/South Park):
February 26, 5:30 – 7:30 pm
South Seattle College, Chan Education Center, Rm 202 – 6000 16th Ave SW
February 27, 6 – 8 pm
South Park Community Center – 8319 8th Ave S
March 12, 10 am – 12 pm
Southwest Youth and Family Services – 4555 Delridge Way SW
March 14, 5:30 – 7:30 pm
West Seattle Branch Library – 2306 42nd Ave SW
March 26, 5:30 – 7:30 pm
Southwest Branch Library – 9010 35th Ave SW
The “project development” process is explained here. After that, there’ll be a list you can vote on, so stay tuned for that in June-July. The citywide fund this year for all projects totals $3 million.
That’s Seattle Channel video of this past week’s meeting of the Seattle Board of Park Commissioners, which included a briefing on a subject of West Seattle interest – a study focusing on the future of the city’s public golf courses/facilities, including the West Seattle Golf Course. As explained in the briefing – which starts 44 minutes into the video – the city’s golf program not only no longer generates extra revenue for Seattle Parks, something it did for a long time, but isn’t even covering its expenses. So the city has commissioned a study to help figure out the public golf facilities’ future.
The study is under way, and at Thursday night’s meeting, the Parks Board got an update on how it’s going so far. The briefing document provided to the board included the following findings from early stakeholder interviews and market research:
Preliminary Feedback from Stakeholder Interviews Conducted to Date and Market Research Findings
Seattle’s municipal golf courses provide benefits beyond the game of golf.
o Public golf is misunderstood and stereotyped in a way that is not consistent with the demographics of who plays at municipal public golf-courses. Nationally, 70% of all rounds nationally are played at public golf courses, not private clubs.
o Expanding access and creating new opportunities to experience golf and Seattle’s public golf facilities is desired.
o There are opportunities to build partnerships and to use Seattle’s municipal golf courses to meet the needs of the growing Seattle population who need open space and recreation opportunities within the City. (Seattle’s population grew by 21,000 from July 1, 2015 – July 1, 2016)
The golf program is not meeting financial policy targets.
o The Golf Master Plan strategy has not been implemented as planned and has contributed to revenue challenges.
o Rising labor and utility expenses in the City were not anticipated in budget projections.
Preliminary Market Research Findings:
o A 2007 State golf economic analysis reported that of 280 courses in the state at that time, 219 were public, and 47 were municipally-owned.
o Nationally interest in golf is declining, especially among millennials; however, golf in Seattle and the State of Washington exceeds the national participation rate. (7% of total population nationally, 10 12% in Seattle.)
o Seattle golf participation rates are in the mid-range of popular recreational activities: walking, picnics, bike riding are the most popular and rugby, surfboarding, lacrosse the least popular.
o The 2017 Parks and Recreation Study conducted by EMC found that 43 percent thought the City should spend less on golf, although the survey did not provided information on the revenue contributed by the golf courses to the City Parks and Recreation Budget.
o Nationally, minority participation is about 20%, primarily among Hispanic and Latino Americans. Seattle has not tracked minority participation rates at its courses; however, the first African American and Asian American golf players clubs in the State were founded at Jefferson and are still active, and First Tee and Bogey Bear programs have successfully introduced the sport to diverse youth in Seattle.
o Seattle’s female participation at its golf courses ranges between 10-17 percent while nationally the average is 23 percent.
You can see the full document from the board briefing here. Beyond the discussion at the Parks Board meeting, it does not appear there are any open feedback opportunities related to the study – and in fact, the board was told “it’s not a big public-outreach (opportunity).” They plan more stakeholder interviews later this month and a “focus group” in March, with the final report to be presented in May, including three potential “scenarios” for the future of the city’s golf program.
11:47 AM: One year ago, we reported on Seattle Parks‘ plans to renovate Don Armeni Boat Ramp with two new floating ramps. The expected start date was listed at the time as last fall, but it hasn’t happened yet. Parks was pursuing a grant to cover part of the $1.5 million cost, and now there’s word the city is getting it – a mayoral announcement on Wednesday mentioned the $374,950 state grant for the project. We’re checking with Parks to get the new timeline.
ADDED 1:57 PM: Christina Hirsch with Parks tells WSB, “Due to the uncertainty with funding over the last year, design and permitting was put on hold. We will be restarting our efforts in March 2018 once agreements are in place and will get a status update out in the second quarter of 2018.”
Whether or not you made it to one of Thursday’s open houses for the new West Seattle Junction park (4700 block of 40th SW), you might be interested in the next step – the online survey you can use to see and choose which of the three designs you like best. Just got word from Seattle Parks‘ Karimah Edwards that the survey is now available online. The survey page also gives you a closeup of each design option, and has links to the “virtual tours” – Option 1 is here, Option 2 is here, Option 3 is here. The park will be on two-thirds of an acre that the city bought five years ago and “landbanked” until now; $1.9 million from Park District levy proceeds is budgeted to develop it, with construction expected next year.
That’s Karimah Edwards from Seattle Parks, holding a tablet to show us the “fly-through” renderings of the three design concepts for the future West Seattle Junction park in the 4700 block of 40th SW [map]. We checked them out at the first of today/tonight’s two “open house” sessions, to show you what you’ll find if you stop by the site tonight for the second drop-in event, 5:30-7 pm. You’ll see the three concepts on easels, too:
GGLO worked with Seattle Parks to create the concepts, using the 10 features that were most popular in last year’s feedback (hundreds of people took the online survey and/or visited the drop-in Farmers’ Market meeting). All three concepts have some things in common – like lots of seating, and garden-style plantings – but otherwise, some dramatically different central features, like a boardwalk in Option 2 and a 6-foot climbing wall in Option 3. The open-house location, by the way, is at the site but fully covered, inside the big tent that was used as a temporary fire station there for more than a year, so don’t worry about the weather:
Refreshments are from the indie coffee and wine bar that’s literally next door to the park, Sound and Fog:
If you just can’t stop by tonight either, a survey will be available online soon – watch the official project website for that. The city bought the 2/3-acre park site five years ago for $1.4 million and has had it “landbanked” until money ($1.9 million) was available for developing it; that’s coming from the Seattle Park District levy.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
If you’re going to design a playground, you might as well get young potential users involved.
That’s why Seattle Parks made a point of encouraging families to come to the design meetings for the new Lincoln Park South Play Area – a project accelerated by the termite damage that led to the sudden closure and removal of play equipment there last summer.
The second and final meeting, last night at The Kenney, resulted in some clear favorites – an orca climbing structure, for example, as part of the marine theme that resulted from an attendee’s suggestion at the first meeting (WSB coverage here).
But even if you weren’t there, you still have time to offer your opinions too:
Two notes about businesses in city parks:
CALL FOR CONCESSIONS: Looking ahead to summer, the city wants to be sure you know about this, in case you operate – or know of – a business that might qualify:
Seattle Parks and Recreation is seeking proposals for seasonal partners to operate food service, recreational activities, and group fitness concessions in various park locations throughout Seattle. Locations vary with sites appropriate for carts, food trucks and other self-contained service businesses. Proposals are due by March 16. Details here.
Among the documents you’ll find on that page is this one that includes specific locations open to food concessions this summer – including, in West Seattle, two at Alki Beach and one at Lincoln Park.
PRESCHOOL MEETING: We first reported last month that another city park in West Seattle will be the site of an “outdoor preschool” starting this fall. One has been operating at Camp Long, and now Parks is also opening Lincoln Park to a preschool program. A new operator called Roots and Sky Nature School is expected to get the contract, Parks confirmed in early January, and a meeting is planned 6-7 pm this Friday (January 26th) at Dakota Place Park (4304 SW Dakota) for anyone with questions about the plan.
Last week we previewed an MLK Day work party for the forest at Fairmount Playfield … and forest steward Christine Deppe just sent us that photo of everyone who showed up on Monday!
ORIGINAL SATURDAY MORNING REPORT: Thanks to the reader who just called to share the news that she discovered while out for a walk this morning that a tree is down across the Schmitz Park pathway near the Alki Community Center entrance to the park. We asked her to report it to the Parks after-hour maintenance hotline, which is reachable via 206-684-7250.
SUNDAY AFTERNOON UPDATE: Still blocked, another reader reports, sending the photo we have added above.
More than five years after buying and “landbanking” the future park site in the 4700 block of 40th SW [map], Seattle Parks is moving forward with designing the new park. And the next round of input is set for two drop-in events on the same day: 11:30 am-1 pm and 5:30-7 pm Thursday, February 1st, at the site. The project team from Parks and GGLO Design will be there to “review design concepts and gather input” from everyone who shows up. Last September, you might recall, Parks held a drop-in event at the West Seattle Farmers’ Market to gather votes on potential design elements. The city bought the park site in 2012 for $1.4 million and “landbanked” it; until last summer, it was home to temporary Fire Station 32 while the new station was being built.
Off work/out of school on Monday, and not signed up for a “day of service” project yet? Here’s one looking for volunteers, in case you haven’t already seen it on the WSB calendar:
Fairmount Park Forest Work Party
January 15, 2018 10 am – 1 pm
Give back to your community park this MLK Day! Fairmount Park Playground is a small green space along Fauntleroy Way next to Fairmount Park Elementary. We started restoration in Spring of 2017, removing invasives, like blackberry and ivy, moving compost piles and replanting it with beautiful Native plants. Come help continue our efforts. It’s a small park that needs a lot of help.
Here’s where to go for more information and registration.
(Anybody else looking for volunteers on Monday? Not too late to let us know.)
Last year was the first time the city tried “participatory budgeting” – under the banner Your Voice, Your Choice – for park and street projects. After ideas were proposed, then vetted, then voted on, each City Council district got a share, and four transportation-related projects were the winners in our area. This year, the city’s starting the process earlier – right now! – with more money to spend, $3 million citywide. So this is your official alert that if you have a “small-scale” park or street improvement idea – something that wouldn’t cost more than $90,000 – you have a month to tell the city about it – either online by going here, or via a paper form you’ll find at Seattle Public Library branches. February 2nd is the deadline; see the full announcement here.
P.S. If you contributed an idea last year but it didn’t make the final cut, it may have been rolled over for reconsideration this year – 400+ of those ideas are on this city-created Google Map and don’t need to be resubmitted.
Three weeks ago, we reported on a City Council committee giving its OK to a small purchase with big potential – Schmitz Park neighbor Bruce Stotler (right) selling rights to his property for far below its value, so that after he’s gone, the site will become part of the forested park. This afternoon, the full council gave its unanimous approval to the $225,000 deal.
It’s been years in the making, initiated back when West Seattleite Tom Rasmussen was still on the council, and shepherded after that by Councilmember Lisa Herbold. As she noted before this afternoon’s vote, the city Parks Department was originally reluctant, but eventually was convinced. The funding will come from the Seattle Park District levy. Those speaking at the start of this afternoon’s council meeting included Rasmussen, who said he was “thrilled” to see it finally coming to fruition, and Vicki Schmitz-Block, on behalf of the family that originally donated Schmitz Park land, saying she hoped it would inspire others, and that it will eventually help enable better access to the park. The council also heard from Jeff McCord, executive director of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society, supporting the purchase (as originally announced), and finally from Bruce Stotler himself, who told the council, “Thank you for allowing me to fulfill my dream.” (He elaborated in this recent Seattle Times report that he felt it’s “the right thing to do.”)
The Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Coalition usually meets on first Tuesdays – but not tonight, given the proximity to the holidays. However, WWRHAH is helping coordinate these two special upcoming community discussions that you’re encouraged to be part of. First – imagine more events in Roxhill Park!
On Tuesday, January 9, from 6:30 to 7:30 at Southwest Library, we’ll join Parks Commons and Arts in Parks Coordinator Randy Wigner to discuss ways Roxhill Park could be a good location for this program. The goal of the Parks Commons Program is to develop community capacity and civic engagement in event production, and the program is assigned to parks that experience long-term public safety issues and where those issues would be improved by increased community use of these parks. We’ll discuss park needs and if the program is a good fit.
Next – looking ahead to the RapidRide H Line, but not about the buses or routing:
On Thursday, January 18, community members and kids are invited to join artists from Oakland’s WowHaus studio for a discovery walk to help inform art projects coming to our neighborhood as part of the redevelopment of the 120 into the Metro Rapid Ride H line. Around 2:30 pm, we’ll meet at Roxhill Elementary under the main entry awning, then walk over to the 26th and Roxbury stop and hop on the 120 bus to the stop at Trenton and Delridge (so bring your bus fare). Members of the public can also meet at between 3:30 and 4 at the corner of Delridge and Henderson (where the largest concrete triangle is located in the right-of-way), and join the walk from there. What ideas do you have? Join us and share! Learn more about our selected artists here.
Though the snow stopped more than 48 hours ago, some effects linger. The latest: The snow aftermath has the West Seattle Golf Course closed today, along with the city’s three other golf courses. We went over to verify and found a sign on the clubhouse door, plus the still-snowy scene you see above.
Still slushy out there, so Seattle Parks has officially closed its athletic fields today. Otherwise, the only West Seattle facility on the Seattle Parks closure list today is Southwest Teen Life Center.
More closure info as we go into the holiday weekend: Besides schedule changes for some Seattle Parks facilities on Sunday, and closures on Monday – as listed here – the lodge/visitor center at West Seattle’s Camp Long has an extended closure starting tomorrow. Parks says the building will be closed December 23rd through January 1st, for maintenance work as well as the holidays, and is scheduled to reopen Tuesday, January 2nd.
(Lincoln Park aerial photo from 2012, by Long Bach Nguyen
Lincoln Park is the second West Seattle park chosen by the city as a site for an “outdoor preschool.”
This is the second year of a city pilot project allowing these types of preschools in four city parks. Tiny Trees has been operating one at Camp Long, the only West Seattle park on that initial list.
This past October, the Parks Department came up with a list of nine parks where it would allow outdoor preschool to continue, or to begin. That list included Camp Long and Lincoln Park. And it issued a call for interested preschool operators.
The application and vetting process has just ended, and Parks spokesperson Rachel Schulkin tells WSB that Tiny Trees and a second company called Roots & Sky are the two providers chosen for the nine parks. In addition to Tiny Trees continuing at Camp Long, Schulkin says, “Roots & Sky is the provider that we intend to work with in offering outdoor preschool at Lincoln Park.” We couldn’t find information about them online, and followed up with Schulkin, who explained:
Roots & Sky is a new business. In addition to applying to utilize Lincoln Park as their preschool site, they are applying to the Seattle Preschool Program (pathway program) which would provide crucial funding and support for them to operate. With successful acceptance into the Seattle Preschool Program they will then acquire a business license. Our intent to move into an agreement with them is dependent upon both successful acceptance into the Seattle Preschool Program (pathway program) and acquisition of a business license. If those things don’t happen, we will not move forward with Roots & Sky as an outdoor preschool provider at Lincoln Park.
She says Parks is working on a Memorandum of Agreement with both providers “to lay out the specifics/expectations regarding outdoor preschools in Seattle Parks.” Before agreements are finalized, she says, there will be a community meeting at Lincoln Park to discuss:
-SPR’s goals around partnering with outdoor preschools
-what we have learned after our first year of piloting these programs,
-some information about how outdoor preschools work and their agreements with SPR.
We will also have time to answer community questions.
No date set for that meeting yet. And yes, the preschool providers do pay the city for use of the parks – “There is a monthly fee depending on the hours of preschool (the exact cost are a discounted rate based upon our rental rates), additional fees are charged for any added maintenance needed.”
One non-West Seattle park in the pilot program, by the way, was excluded for future preschool use, according to this city document, John C. Little, “because of deteriorating site conditions and overuse.”
A long meeting of the City Council committee chaired by West Seattle/South Park Councilmember Lisa Herbold just concluded with a vote supporting a small but significant expansion of Schmitz Park.
We published the Southwest Seattle Historical Society‘s announcement of this on Sunday. (They’re a supporter, though not a party, to the matter.) Today the Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development, and Arts Committee heard from the 5,000-square-foot site’s owner Bruce Stotler (right) and from West Seattle-residing former Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, who shepherded the proposed purchase until his term ended two years ago, and handed it over to Herbold.
Stotler said at today’s meeting that he wanted to make sure his parcel on the southeast edge of the forested preserve – donated by the Schmitz family more than a century ago – wouldn’t someday become a “megahouse with a five-foot yard.” Under terms of the deal with the city, he will sell it for $225,000 but retain a “reservation of life estate” interest so he can continue living there until he dies (or if he chooses to move), at which time the city takes full ownership and will demolish Stotler’s house. The money will come from the levy-funded Seattle Park District.
The city originally didn’t have the money for this, the committee was told, but Stotler didn’t give up. And, said Parks’ Chip Nevins, “It’s important to protect the edges of these parks from encroachment by development.” The site might also be part of a new pathway into the park someday, Herbold noted.
The two committee members in attendance, Herbold and Councilmember Mike O’Brien, both voted to approve the deal, and the full council will have the final vote sometime next month.
One of West Seattle’s biggest parks will get a little bigger, if a proposal for the city to buy an adjacent parcel gets final approval. The announcement was sent tonight by the Southwest Seattle Historical Society:
109-year-old Schmitz Park is on track to be expanded by a parcel at its southeast corner.
The plan, which has secured approval by the Seattle Mayor’s office, is headed for consideration by a Seattle City Council committee on Tuesday morning, Dec. 12.
Working on this plan for nearly three years is a group calling itself Friends of the Historic Schmitz Park Addition, including former Seattle City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, Schmitz family spokesperson Vicki Schmitz Block, and the Southwest Seattle Historical Society.
SWSHS is pleased to congratulate and support this recent announcement, which would involve legislation for the Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation to acquire the property of West Seattle resident Bruce Stotler, located at the southeast corner of historic Schmitz Park in West Seattle (see map).
This issue will be voted on in Seattle City Council committee on Tuesday, December 12, during the meeting of the Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development, and Arts Committee chaired by Lisa Herbold, which begins at 9:30 am and is open to public comment. If passed in committee, the legislation will go to full Council in early January.
The process began in 2015 when property owner Bruce Stotler reached out to former Seattle City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen about donating or selling (below cost) his property abutting the park. Councilmember Rasmussen led Parks Superintendent Jesús Aguirre and others on tours of the Stotler property.
Rasmussen and property owner Stotler later met with Councilmember Lisa Herbold in 2016, presenting goals to:
• Expand Schmitz Preserve Park by adding Bruce Stotler’s property to the park
• Allowing Stotler to live on the property through a life-estate agreement with the Parks Department
• Potential increase future accessibility to the Park at its southeast corner, potentially improving ADA access
• Establishing this agreement at a time that the property owner was willing to do so with a large donation component
Fast forward to today: Former Councilmember Rasmussen expresses his own appreciation to Mr. Stotler, Councilmember Herbold, and others for championing this issue and bringing it to the fore. “I believe this is an important step toward the preservation of our parks, and Mr. Stotler is setting a remarkable example of how an individual resident can continue in the tradition of the Schmitz family’s original gift of the park land to the City of Seattle.”
Representing the Schmitz family, Vicki Schmitz Block said, “The Schmitz Family is grateful to Mr. Stotler for his vision of adding his property to Schmitz Park, the Seattle Parks Department for agreeing to purchase this piece of land, and Mayor Jenny Durkan for shepherding the project forward. We are hopeful that this action will generate renewed interest and involvement by the community to ensure the future of this forest-like park.”
Jeff McCord, Southwest Seattle Historical Society executive director, added, “We hope to continue to provide outreach, support and advocacy for projects like this one which help to enhance our wonderful West Seattle character and environment. The prospect of having better public access to a great asset like Schmitz Park, as well as helping to expand and preserve the park for all to enjoy, is great news for our community.”
The proposed purchase agreement that’s part of the committee’s Tuesday agenda lists the price the city will pay for the 5,000-square-foot parcel as $225,000, about half its current assessed value.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Termites forced their hand.
That’s what was revealed last night as the cause of the damage that led Parks to suddenly shut down the south play structure, and to remove it shortly thereafter. In addition, the discovery led to an inspection of other similar structures citywide – and accelerated plans to replace some, including one in West Seattle; more on that later. First – what last night’s meeting was all about: Gathering opinions on what the new play area should include.
The meeting at The Kenney was sparsely attended, but the team from Parks was excited to already have received 250 responses to this online survey, which you can reply to if you haven’t already. (Here’s how responses are going so far.)
Parks manager Susanne Rockwell and landscape architect Pamela Alspaugh led last night’s meeting (with the project construction manager observing), which revealed some basics about the project’s scope and timeline as well as options for what could be installed.