West Seattle, Washington
ORIGINAL REPORT, 9:13 AM: At 9:30 this morning, the City Council’s Parks, Seattle Center, Libraries, and Waterfront Committee agenda includes a Parks Department request for approval to seek state grants for three boating-related projects, including one at West Seattle’s Don Armeni Boat Ramp. From the slide deck for the meeting, here are the details:
The grant would cover two-thirds of the $1.5 million cost; the city funding comes from the voter-approved Park District levy. You can watch the discussion live during this morning’s committee meeting via Seattle Channel, online or on cable channel 21, and you can find more details of the meeting via its agenda, here.
10:56 AM: The council-committee meeting is over. Parks got approval to pursue the grants. The briefing included an explanation that of the three projects for which those grants are being sought, Don Armeni – the only one in West Seattle – is the highest priority, because waves have caused so much damage to the old floating docks. So even if the grants aren’t received, the committee was told, the Don Armeni project will happen anyway.
The next Seattle Parks play area set for renovation in West Seattle is in High Point. Two public meetings have just been announced so you can see and talk about the design options, and whether or not you can make one or both of those meetings, the Parks Department has an online survey up about the project right now. You can answer the survey here. The meetings are both at High Point Community Center (6920 34th SW), both on Saturday afternoons, 1-3 pm February 25th and 1-3 pm April 8th. The project – which is south of HPCC, near the tennis courts – has $700,000 in funding from the Seattle Park District levy.
After questions came up in the comment section on Monday, we confirmed with Seattle Parks that the fences up at the Highland Park playfield/playground area (1100 SW Cloverdale) are for the start of the HP Playground Improvements project.
This is *not* related to the playground project at nearby Highland Park Elementary, but it has been long in the works. The city’s description:
The scope of this work for the project is to relocate and replace the existing ballfield to allow t-ball, coach pitch ball and U-9 and under soccer, as well as provide access and safe bleachers for all. The ballfield relocation project will install ADA access to the ballfield by providing hard paving around the new backstop, into the dugouts and to the field, as required by ADA. Relocating the field will provide enough room on the south side of the field for an ADA path to the east side of the park and for an extension of the Cloverdale walk.
Project manager Kelly Goold tells WSB that while the official projected end date of construction is late June, the contractor hopes to be done by mid-May – reaching that goal depends on how the weather goes, “given the amount of site-work and paving involved in this project.”
The pink dots are where the city has off-leash dog parks now – in West Seattle, for example, Westcrest Park is the only one. Will more be added – and if so, where? A key step toward deciding that could come next Thursday night, when the Seattle Parks Board discusses, and might vote on, the draft People, Dogs, and Parks Strategic Plan.
You can see documents for the meeting here – including the points that board members are being asked to decide on Thursday night, spelled out in this “decision agenda” memo. It includes proposed changes to the draft plan, and also asks the board to affirm whether new off-leash areas would only be fenced sites – ruling out “leash-optional trails.” And the board will be asked to affirm the plan’s proposed policies for regulating professional dog walkers if they use off-leash areas – with a $100 annual license and requirements for certification if they seek to bring more than three dogs to an OLA after the first two years following passage of the plan.
Ahead of next Thursday’s meeting, the group Citizens for Off-Leash Areas has been circulating a survey asking for more suggestions for “pilot” off-leash spots – find it here. The survey’s introduction says Seattle Parks asked the group to come up with more possible locations. We asked Parks if that was indeed how they were soliciting site suggestions, rather than putting out a call to the public. Spokesperson Christina Hirsch replied:
When the final People, Dogs and Parks Plan is released in March, it will outline a process for the public to submit applications for off-leash locations. This process will be open to all, including groups and individual residents. Seattle Parks and Recreation will form a committee to review the applications and the Superintendent will make the final decision. This process will go through a public involvement process and community outreach.
COLA has worked in collaboration with SPR during the Off-Leash Area Master Plan process. COLA came to SPR with a list of off-leash location recommendations and we suggested that they develop a more comprehensive and geographically balanced list. It appears they are developing that revised list by soliciting community feedback.
COLA’s recommendations will go along with submissions from the community application process.
In the meantime, Thursday night’s board meeting considering the strategic plan is open to the public – 6:30 pm January 12th, at Parks HQ downtown (100 Dexter Ave. N.).
The Murray Combined Sewer Overflow Control Project – centered on a million-gallon tank to hold overflows during major storms – is almost done. An update from King County today says the next big step is restoration work across the street at Lowman Beach Park, which held construction trailers and also crews working to upgrade the pump station beneath the park’s southeast side:
King County’s contractor recently completed major roadway and sidewalk restoration on streets surrounding the project site. Before the end of the year, the contractor will paint new roadway lines and install roadway signs.
Landscaping on site continues as crews prepare to begin restoration in Lowman Beach Park. Before planting grass in the park, the contractor will prepare the soil by grading, turning over the subsoil, and adding new topsoil. A fence will remain in place around the park until the new grass is well established.
No work is scheduled for Dec. 24 – 26 or Dec. 31 – Jan. 2. While work will continue into 2017, you can expect to see smaller crews and fewer pieces of equipment on site (see schedule in attached update for additional information).
We appreciate your continued patience as we work to safely complete the project as quickly as possible. We will continue to provide you with updates on project progress in 2017.
What to expect in 2017:
• Work to occur on weekdays 7 am-6 pm and occasional Saturday work 9 am-6 pm.
• Smaller crews and fewer pieces of equipment on site and in Lowman Beach Park
• Streets near the site open and accessible
• Periodic sidewalk closures while landscaping work is underway
• No public access to the staircase on site until all work is complete
• Fence to remain in place around Lowman Beach Park until grass is well established
Please direct any concerns or inquiries to the project hotline: 206-205-9186.
The overflow-control facility itself has been operational for more than a month.
One of West Seattle’s crown-jewel parks, Camp Long, celebrated its 75th anniversary this year (WSB coverage here). Even if you went to the party – there’s more to learn about its past, and its future. Above is Camp Long education supervisor Sheila Brown, inviting you to tomorrow afternoon’s SouthWest Stories presentation, co-sponsored by the Southwest Seattle Historical Society (which shared her video invitation) and Seattle Public Library. Come to Delridge Library (5423 Delridge Way SW) at 2 pm Sunday to hear what she has to say about “The Diamond Anniversary of Camp Long: Rocking Outdoor Recreation for 75 Years.”
From Anthony at Southwest Pool:
Southwest Pool is collecting nonperishable food and snacks for the West Seattle Food Bank. Last year we brought in 300 pounds of donations. The food drive is now through Friday (December 16th).
To give back for community support, today through Friday, the Southwest Pool will also have specific discounted swims for persons who donate 3 or more nonperishables to the activity.
Here’s the schedule for that:
Southwest Pool is at 2801 SW Thistle.
The unsung heroes of local city-run community centers are their advisory councils – and the one at Hiawatha Community Center recently said goodbye to its longtime president, and wanted to publicly share words of thanks:
The Hiawatha Community wishes to thank Rob Wunder on his 25 years of service to the West Seattle community as President of Hiawatha’s Advisory Council.
Rob grew up in West Seattle and spent a great deal of his childhood enjoying the activities offered at Hiawatha’s Community Center. As an adult, he felt that it was his calling to give back to a place that provided so much enrichment to him during his youth. Rob, in his capacity as President, has been instrumental in leading positive change for the community and the Seattle Parks system. All his actions were driven by his view of the big picture and his passion to make a difference for the community.
Rob was instrumental in two special projects that families will enjoy well into the future; The Hiawatha Field Replacement Project and Dakota Place Park Project. Do you remember when the beautiful turf and track was just dirt? Or when Dakota Place Park was an old City Light station? We now enjoy these beautiful amenities because of his countless volunteer hours, his ability to speak for positive change, and his passion for equity and access with affordable programs across the community, expanded programs in West Seattle, and support of our youth.
During Rob’s tenure as President at Hiawatha, important programs were implemented and grew, such as child care, athletics, preschool, tween, recreation, ballet, summer camp … the list goes on and on! Hiawatha’s special events attracted thousands, such as summer concerts, Halloween carnivals, and pancake breakfasts, because Rob was a strong advocate for his community.
While this is a short list, it doesn’t come close to covering Rob’s hard work or expressing our gratitude to him, as he is truly an exceptional individual. His selfless commitment to community, hard work, and strength as a leader has created a lasting legacy upon the residents of West Seattle, past, present and future. We thank him for all that he has done for our community over the years.
(The Associated Recreation Council partners with Seattle Parks and Recreation to provide lifelong learning opportunities and advocating for the success of recreation services at Hiawatha.)
Seattle Parks is working on a plan for the future of its “Soft Surface Trails” around the city. Your thoughts are being sought – including at a December 20th meeting – not in West Seattle, but not far:
This meeting provides an opportunity to learn about soft surface trails in Seattle and to provide input on the plan for trails within SPR’s natural areas. The final plan will include recommendations for trail-maintenance standards, levels of service and trail hierarchy, a determination process for how new trails are formed and overall guidance for the future of trails throughout Seattle. This plan is not specific to one particular park or area.
The trails meeting is at 6 pm December 20th at the Jefferson Horticulture Building, 1600 S. Dakota. The preview on this Parks website also includes a contact for questions and comments if you can’t make it to the meeting.
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) November 20, 2016
West Seattle artist Troy Pillow (below) has the most visible art in The Junction – the kinetic sculpture “Transpose,” dedicated today (above) – and more on the way, as he has designed art you’ll see all around the peninsula’s biggest project, The Whittaker.
Some of the backstory for the new installation stretches to a project across the street from that one.
As explained at today’s ceremony (11 minutes, recorded in its entirety in the video above), the roots of this public art are in the project at 39th/Fauntleroy/Alaska, first known as Fauntleroy Place, then as “The Hole” when it stalled for years after excavation, and then as Spruce, after it was sold at a foreclosure auction and completed. $25,000 was part of the “public benefit” package that development owed because of its alley vacation, approved by the City Council.
The importance of “public benefits” was discussed briefly during the ceremony by the West Seattleite who was on the council then, Tom Rasmussen. Also present but not speaking, City Councilmember Lisa Herbold. Because of the years it took for this to become reality, there were other sets of then-and-now – former West Seattle Junction Association executive director Susan Melrose and her successor Lora Swift, former Junction Neighborhood Organization leader Erica Karlovits and her successor René Commons. While Karlovits didn’t join the ribbon-cutting lineup, her son Connor helped:
The sculpture, for its part, spun gently in the breeze; it was created from concepts originally shown to the public at an open house in The Junction last February. The day’s intermittent rain kept itself on pause for the 20-minute event, in which Seattle Parks reps also participated – Robert Stowers, a former West Seattleite, and Pam Kliment. You can see the sculpture, standing against what had been considered West Seattle’s biggest blank wall, in the park on the northwest corner of 42nd and Alaska.
10:57 AM: You’ll see something new at Junction Plaza Park (42nd/Alaska) next time you go by: The 20-foot-tall kinetic sculpture that’s been in the works for a while. We last reported on the plan when concepts were shown at a Junction open-house event during last February’s West Seattle Art Walk; now, local artist Troy Pillow has completed the work, and it’s being installed this morning. It’s funded by public-benefit money from local development as well as a city grant. Update later, after it’s fully installed!
ADDED: By the time we got back in late afternoon, the base was already in shadow, but you can see the top of the sculpture:
(2012 Lowman Beach aerial photo – pre-Murray CSO Project – by Long Bach Nguyen)
If you missed it in our coverage of the latest Morgan Community Association meeting: Seattle Parks has a short survey for Lowman Beach Park fans, and it’s about to close. The questions are about how, and how often, you use the park – or, how often you did before all the Murray Combined Sewer Overflow Project work. Results will help them determine the fate of Lowman Beach’s tennis court, among other things, when final decisions are made about the park’s compromised seawall. Find the survey here.
(WSB file photo)
While doing research for the WSB West Seattle Halloween Guide, we discovered Southwest Pool is NOT having a pumpkin swim this year – because Halloween weekend will happen during its maintenance closure. We asked Seattle Parks for more information on the shutdown, set to start next Monday, and here’s what spokesperson Christina Hirsch tells us:
There is a two-week pool closure that is needed as preventative maintenance to rebuild pumps, check boilers, and critical systems. It is also an opportunity for repair or repaint throughout the building. This closure is a regular part of an 18-month cycle with the next closure planned in spring of 2018.
The final week of the three-week closure will result in full facility shutdown including Neighborhood Service Center, Teen Life Center, child care, and pool. During this time, wood floors will be resurfaced using products that prevent anyone from being in the building for several days. Gym floors require this treatment every two years. Other wood floors in the building have not been refinished for four years and are overdue for this essential work.
The facility will reopen on Monday, November 14.
Again, the closure is set to start next Monday, October 24th.
Lincoln Park play area is open. The renovated north play area features ‘tree house’ elements, a cable ride, new play equipment, a plaza and interactive information on migratory birds that can be found in Lincoln Park. The park also features inclusive and accessible play elements for all such as a group saucer swing, an accessible cable ride, an accessible sand table, and a small alcove for sensory sensitive children.
Pathways between the shelter and the play area, additional plantings around the play area, and the accessible pathway connection to Fauntleroy Way SW is anticipated to be completed by the end of October 2016.
The Seattle Park District provided the funding for this renovation. Approved by voters in 2014, the Seattle Park District provides more than $47 million a year in long-term funding for Seattle Parks and Recreation including maintenance of parklands and facilities, operation of community centers and recreation programs, and development of new neighborhood parks on previously acquired sites.
Extra touches in the play area include bird photos/info – including this one with a photo by Trileigh Tucker, the local photographer/writer who has long shared photos here on WSB:
(P.S. The Northern Flicker photo on another sign is also by Trileigh, and she says there’s a raven photo by Mark Ahlness, another local photographer who’s shared images here too.)
Meantime – as mentioned in the Parks announcement above, the play area also features “inclusive and accessible” elements.
You might recall those resulting from participation by former Explorer West Middle School (WSB sponsor) students who had been advocating for exactly that type of a play space (here’s our original report, and our December followup). If you’re not familiar with the location of the north play area – walk into the park heading north from the north end of the central parking lot at 8011 Fauntleroy Way SW, or from the northernmost kiosk-enhanced entrance along Fauntleroy a bit further north.
Kid(s) in your family waiting for the renovated north Lincoln Park play area to reopen? Won’t be long, according to an update today from Seattle Parks. In a post on the blog-format Parkways website, focusing on Park District-funded play-area projects around the city, there’s a detailed update concluding with: “We are thrilled to report that we are still on target to open at the end of October!” Work on the $600,000 project began two months ago.
One last reminder in case this is an issue about which you feel strongly: Tomorrow night is the public hearing for the draft citywide People, Dogs, and Parks Strategic Plan. The citywide Board of Park Commissioners is presiding over the public hearing, 6:30 pm at Miller Community Center on Capitol Hill (330 19th Ave. E.). Here are the details, as first published in August on the Parks Department’s Parkways website; we first wrote about the draft plan when it was made public back in June, including the improvements it recommends for West Seattle’s only off-leash park, Westcrest Park in Highland Park.
P.S. If you can’t make it to the public hearing, you can comment via e-mail – send your thoughts to Rachel.Acosta@Seattle.Gov by October 14th.
Just in from Seattle Parks:
Many Seattle Parks and Recreation facilities will be closed Thursday, Sept. 15, 2016 due to an all-staff in-service day. The majority of classes and programs will not be running.
The facilities and programs that WILL operate in our area are listed as:
West Seattle Golf Course
Also – the following “enrichment programs” at community centers:
· Alki Community Center, School-Age Care
· Alki Community Center, Preschool
· Delridge Community Center, School-Age Care
· Delridge Community Center, Preschool
· Delridge Community Center, Rec Tech
· Hiawatha Community Center, School-Age Care
· Hiawatha Community Center, Preschool
· Hiawatha Community Center, Teen Programs
· High Point Community Center, School-Age Care
· South Park Community Center, School-Age Care
· South Park Community Center, Rec Tech
If you need to know about programs outside this area – see the full citywide list here.
Going up? Many of those attending Saturday’s big party at Camp Long were: The all-day celebration marked the park’s 75th anniversary as well as its annual Mountain Fest. Photojournalist Leda Costa was there for WSB. Of course, there was an anniversary cake:
One week from tomorrow, you are invited to the 75th anniversary celebration for Camp Long, “the most unique city park in the country.” 11 am-5 pm on Saturday, September 10th, the big party will be held at the 68-acre park along with Mountain Fest. You can join in activities including rock climbing, ropes course, orienteering, nature exploration, outdoor skills, historical exhibit, falconry, crafts, and art. And don’t miss the flag ceremony at 1:30 pm. The park is at 5200 35th SW [map]. (It’s been six years since the last really big party there – the 2010 celebration of the Camp Long Lodge’s million-dollar renovations.)
9:21 AM: We’re at South Park Community Center, where Mayor Ed Murray and Seattle Parks Superintendent Jesús Aguirre are about to announce what’s billed as “new investments to reduce barriers and increase access for residents to the City’s community center system … part of Mayor Murray’s proposed 2017 budget.”
It’s been five years now since Murray’s predecessor, Mike McGinn, came to High Point Community Center (WSB coverage here) to deliver news of big cuts and changes that left the community-center system reeling. Then in March 2014, Murray visited Hiawatha Community Center (WSB coverage here) to announce the Park District proposal, subsequently passed by voters. It included promises of funding for “Community Center rehabilitation and development.”
He begins, “I’m here to announce a series of proposals and changes that we will send to the City Council (as part of the budget process),” with funding from the Park District levy, “stabilizing our ability to fund our park system.” He says the proposals will add staff and/or hours to nine community centers, focused on “underserved” areas. Free programs and elimination of drop-in fees at certain centers will be part of the proposals. Here at South Park CC, “we propose to expand operating hour and explore innovative partnerships with the community … to develop culturally relevant programming … In the long term, Parks and Recreation will undertake a long-term planning process in 2017-2018 for the (entire system)” to find out how to “better serve” the people in the city. He also mentions performance measurement “so people can go online and be sure we are meeting the goals in the process.”
9:27 AM: The mayor then goes on to attack the “divisive rhetoric” heard from presidential candidate Donald Trump on Wednesday and says that Trump’s proposals “would bring our state’s economy to a halt,” among other things, “if we turn away immigrants.” He then turns the podium over to Parks Superintendent Aguirre, who mentions that he himself is an immigrant. He says he has seen the need for what the mayor is proposing. And he has warm words for the 100+ employees who work in the community centers around the city each day. “This plan at its core is about equity,” Aguirre adds. He says the elimination of fees for some drop-in programs may not seem big to some, but for many families, it will be a huge improvement in accessibility. He talks about scholarships provided for the first time this year for adults as well as children, and about the importance of partnerships. “We know that every community in Seattle is going to be excited when they see this plan.” (We’re still awaiting the document with details.) He next introduces South Park community advocate Paulina Lopez, who expresses gratitude about what a difference this will make for the community.
In media Q/A, we asked about what this means in the context of the cuts made five years ago. The mayor’s reply: “Our hope is to get back to a level of service that we saw prior to the Great Recession – but that doesn’t mean the exact same programs – the question is what are the programs that this (fast-changing city) needs? We’re seeing two things that are different from a generation ago – an increasein children, and in people who are choosing to retire her. So given that we have stabilized funding, what is the best place to invest that funding? Superintendent Aguirre has spent a year evaluating how we need to reorganize our department and is now going to evaluate how we spend this additional new money.”
Superintendent Aguirre, asked what this change means for South Park CC, said “standardizing hours … (which will become) 10-8 daily Monday-Fridays, representing an increase from 40 to 65 hours that the center will be open weekly. “We’re also adding more staff – making some that’s part time, full time, and we’ve added an additional staff member.” And he said that staff will be working more closely with community members to be tuned in to their needs.
9:43 AM: The event has wrapped up. Though citywide media is here too, there’s no hard-copy news release so far, and the full list but we’ve obtained the full document to see which West Seattle-area centers are involved. No West Seattle centers are proposed for increased hours, but both Alki and Delridge are proposed for increased staffing. We’ll have a few more details as we go through the document.
10:14 AM: Here’s the full document titled “Community Center Strategic Plan.” We’re searching it for other references to West Seattle’s community centers. For one, it explains that while High Point CC might have been eligible for the equity pilot program that is proposed for South Park and four other (non-WS) centers, it wasn’t chosen because HPCC “is currently piloting other promising equity-focused initiatives, with partners such as the Seattle Housing Authority and the UW School of Public Health.” Another mention of note is Hiawatha Community Center, proposed for $1.2 million in maintenance/renovation work, following its previously announced evaluation (along with seven other centers around the city).
We’ve already reported on two of the schools opening this fall in West Seattle – the new Arbor Heights and Genesee Hill elementaries – and here’s one that’s opening WITHOUT a new building, without any building at all, in fact: Tiny Trees Preschool.
Tiny Trees got big attention last year for announcing its plan to launch outdoor preschools in Seattle city parks, and the list of parks now includes West Seattle’s Camp Long, where the nonprofit plans two classes starting next month. Teacher Anne Churchill, a West Seattleite, tells WSB that teachers and other staff will partner with parents later this week to set up the outdoor “classroom” areas they’ll be using at Camp Long “to make a quality education in reading, math and science affordable for families and to give children a joyful, nature rich childhood – one full of play, exploration and wonder.” They’re expecting the two classes at Camp Long to serve up to 64 children.
Two Lincoln Park notes today:
NORTH PLAY AREA UPDATE: We have an update today on construction of the North Play Area renovations. Seattle Parks spokesperson Dewey Potter tells WSB that the contractor is a week ahead of schedule and has finished demolition, poured the concrete curbs for the new play area, almost finished the grading work, and is rerouting an electrical line. By this weekend, she adds, “The new picnic seating area will be open and ready for use by this coming weekend.” Next week, you won’t see work at the site, because they’ll be waiting for the new play equipment, with delivery expected in early September. After receiving the aforementioned updates, we asked about one other part of the project:
That’s the framework for the new “cable ride” northwest of the play area. It is a kid-sized “zipline,” no trees involved. P.S. You can find more project info here, including notes from the planning meetings last fall and winter.
SATURDAY TREE WALK: In case you haven’t already seen the listing for this in the WSB West Seattle Event Calendar – the city’s reLeaf program is reminding you that this Saturday, you’re invited to go along for a free guided walk to learn about the park’s trees. Meet by 10 am at the information kiosk along the north parking lot (8011 Fauntleroy Way SW).