West Seattle, Washington
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.
Two notes today about Seattle Parks play-area-renovation projects in West Seattle:
HIGH POINT ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW: Today’s city-circulated Land Use Information Bulletin includes a notice that the High Point Play Area renovation project outside the HP Community Center has been determined to be environmentally non-significant. That opens a comment period if you have something to say – as long as you get your comment in by December 11th (today’s notice explains how). The full document can be seen here. Also noted on the project website – the project is now expected to start in fall 2018, because of “permitting delays.”
MEETING REMINDER FOR LINCOLN PARK SOUTH: This Wednesday is the first of two meetings for the Lincoln Park South Play Area project – 6-7:30 pm November 29th at The Kenney (7125 Fauntleroy Way SW). This is to replace the equipment that was abruptly closed and removed this past summer because of safety concerns. The meeting will give you a chance to “learn about the project and provide input on play equipment and the overall design for the play area.” Whether you can or can’t be there, the city invites you to answer this survey, too.
(WSB file photo from West Duwamish Greenbelt)
Thanks to Craig for the heads-up: If you enjoy using trails in Seattle Parks, you should know that the city’s asking for feedback on its Draft Soft Surface Trails Maintenance Plan. When finalized, the plan will be, Seattle Parks says, “a guiding document to guide the department and the community when addressing the overall maintenance of our nearly 100 miles of trail within the City. Trail Types, Levels of Service, Standards, and Best Management Practices are just some of the areas covered in the plan as we work to provide safe and equitable access to our green spaces.” Once you’ve checked out the draft plan, you have two ways to comment – via e-mail or postal mail, as explained here, and/or come to a meeting set for Wednesday, December 13th, 7 pm, at West Seattle’s Camp Long (5200 35th SW)
ORIGINAL 10:38 AM REPORT: We’ll be checking on various aspects of the windstorm aftermath throughout today. First: While walking through upper Lincoln Park this morning, we saw numerous downed branches and tree limbs, large and small. With so much parkland in West Seattle, many others might notice cleanup and/or repair needs, so we asked Seattle Parks spokesperson Rachel Schulkin the best way to report what you see, today and beyond. She advises calling the Parks maintenance-request line – 206-684-7250.
ADDED 12:47 PM: A damage report from Hiawatha Playfield – a bench taken out by a madrone tree/branch:
Thanks to Erika, who sent that photo, and Max, for both e-mailing about this.
ADDED 2:50 PM: From Seattle Parks via Twitter: “Camp Long’s Ridge Trail is currently closed. Crews are removing a downed tree in the area. We expect the trail to be closed through tomorrow. Call Camp Long for more info: 206-684-7434.”
Thanks to Marcy Grantor for the photo and report on how these students spent their day off:
We wanted to do a community service project today and chose Roxhill Park. We picked up trash from the skate park to the bathrooms to the picnic area and the soccer field too. After an hour and a half of cleaning, we collectively gathered 1,072 pieces of trash!!!!! We had fun and even had some kids jump in and help … just because.
Now Roxhill Park is a trash-free space and we feel proud!
As they should!
Four months after safety concerns shut down the play structure at Lincoln Park‘s South Play Area, the rebuilding project is getting into gear. Today, Seattle Parks sent word of an online survey – it’s for all park users, not just families whose kids use the play area – and details on the November 29th meeting (mentioned in our Morgan Community Association coverage last month): 6 pm at The Kenney (7125 Fauntleroy Way SW). That meeting will be “to learn about the project and provide input on play equipment and the overall design for the play area”; a followup meeting to see the resulting design is set for January 24th.
12:20 PM: With so much Seattle Parks property in West Seattle, leadership changes in the department are always news, and there’s another one on the way. Thanks to the texter who tipped us that superintendent Jesús Aguirre has resigned after two and a half years on the job. We called the Parks communications office for more information and they say they’re working on it. (Photo from seattle.gov)
2:06 PM: Parks spokesperson Rachel Schulkin says Aguirre’s resignation will be effective January 2nd, after which time he plans to “take some time to be with family” and eventually join his family’s welding business. He told Mayor Burgess on Monday, and Parks staff on Tuesday. A news release is due out from the mayor’s office soon.
3:16 PM: And the mayor’s statement has arrived in the inbox:
Jesús Aguirre has been an incredible leader and advocate for both our parks system, and the community supports offered through our programs and recreational facilities. He has been a great leader to team of over 2,000 permanent and seasonal parks and recreation employees, and will be missed.
During his tenure, Jesús led the initial implementation of the Seattle Metropolitan Park District, which through tax-payer funding provides much needed maintenance to our parks and recreation facilities. Additionally, he engaged neighborhoods around the development of a Community Center Strategic Plan that led to longer hours at centers, programming targeted to underserved communities, major maintenance to aging centers, and eliminating fees to many drop-in recreation programs. Jesús advocated for the staff at Seattle Parks and Recreation to ensure they received recognition for their excellent service to the city and continued opportunities for growth and development. Most importantly, he was a champion for utilizing park resources to further equity within our city, and in being strategic in how we grow and sustain a park and recreation system as our city changes.
Before Aguirre’s arrival, Christopher Williams served as acting superintendent for four years, after the 2010 departure of Tim Gallagher.
If you’re wondering whether this afternoon’s Longfellow Creek celebration is still happening on this snowy, chilly afternoon – yes, but at a new location. Signs at the originally announced Dragonfly Pavilion site will point you to Delridge Community Center.
Seattle Parks reps there joked that they thought they would only have to deal with the Seahawks game as competition for the event – not the Seahawks and snow. Nonetheless, they’ll be there with information about the creek, its environment, and its wildlife until 4 pm.
During the Green Seattle Day work parties, our photographer stopped by two other spots where volunteers were planting trees and shrubs – in Highland Park, volunteers worked east of the off-leash area at Westcrest Park, where some Friday snow was still on the ground:
And in east Admiral, the Duwamish Head Greenbelt drew dozens of volunteers to work at 34th and City View, one of the sites where the city is restoring damage done by illegal tree-cutting:
Steve Richmond from Garden Cycles was leading the work today, and told us they were planting larger evergreens as well as understory plants such as ferns.
The city is committed to work at the east Admiral restoration sites for five years, Jon Jainga from Parks noted.
The 21 Green Seattle Day sites with work parties today included two others in West Seattle – Camp Long and Lincoln Park.
6:26 PM MONDAY: If you’ve seen the racist graffiti vandalism at Delridge Skatepark – you’ll probably be glad to hear that Seattle Parks will have a cleanup crew out tomorrow morning. That’s according to Parks spokesperson Rachel Schulkin. Several people called our attention to the graffiti (shown in this tweet), which refers to President Trump as the “great white chief” (albeit, with several misspellings). We pointed them to the Seattle Parks graffiti hotline, 206-684-7587. One person who e-mailed us expressed concern that the hotline has a recording saying it might take two weeks to get graffiti handled, so we asked for a timeline, and that’s how we got the response that “crews are planning to deal with it first thing tomorrow.” Parks also stresses that if you see graffiti vandalism (or any other crime) as it happens, call 911.
ADDED 9:13 AM TUESDAY: Thanks to the texter who just sent this photo of the cleanup crew at the skatepark:
FIRST REPORT, 2:28 PM: A “brush fire” call that’s been open since late morning in the Roxhill Park area is actually an underground peat fire, according to Seattle Parks, which says it’s under control but has claimed a few trees. Parks also says part of the park will be closed TFN because of the fire. We’ll be heading over to find out more. The peat bog in the park was restored years ago but has gone dry because of a variety of problems that the Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Coalition has long been trying to get the city to address. More to come.
3:04 PM UPDATE: We are at the park now. SFD and Parks are working together to dig into the peat to try to get to a not-burned area so they can cut off the fire. They have had to tear out some trees to get to it.
(And yes, that’s a TV helicopter.) What looks like smoke in our photos, we are told, is ash. Peat fires can burn for days, weeks, even months, so SFD is hoping this hasn’t extended too far. It’s at the southeast corner of the park.
3:56 PM UPDATE: Back at HQ now, and adding more images.
Since the fire isn’t out, SFD can’t say for sure how it started, but Deputy Chief Gene Zimmerman told us firefighters have been out a few times in recent days to extinguish “small warming fires” in that area of the park. We will check back in early evening but right now, this is NOT affecting the play area on the west side of the park, except that an SFD line is running to the fire area from a hydrant on 29th SW on the southwest side of the park. (added) This view of digging to fight the fire …
…is reminiscent of a view from the Seattle Municipal Archives, dated 1961, of peat being dug up in the area during road work (we’ve published this photo before):
FRIDAY NOTE: SFD closed out the call late Thursday night. We haven’t received a response yet to our question for them, whether the fire’s considered extinguished, but we went over at 5:30 pm for a look:
All that remains is a big muddy area, with chain-link fence around it. The paths to the east and to the north (toward the bus stop) are taped off, but nothing else in the park is affected. We’ll be checking with Seattle Parks, and again with SFD, next week.
Some of your neighbors spent part of the weekend giving TLC to some of the peninsula’s special spots – among them, Dragonfly Park in North Delridge, just upslope from Longfellow Creek. Above, the volunteers from Friends of Dragonfly Park who weeded and mulched on Saturday morning.
Laura Bruco from Friends of Dragonfly Park says they’ll “likely have another event within the next few weeks” since they didn’t have quite enough mulch and burlap to accomplish everything they had hoped to. They’re also expecting Seattle Parks to bring in equipment to do some work on the open areas soon too. After that, Laura says, “we’ll be focusing on fundraising and planning for new plantings next year.” You can find the group online here, and you can reach Laura at email@example.com. (And there’s more backstory in the garden-work-party announcement we published earlier this week.)
Start your weekend at one of West Seattle’s special spots! Here’s the invitation:
You’re Invited! A Garden Party for Dragonfly Park
Join the Friends of Dragonfly Park on Saturday, October 7, from 9 am-12 pm, to get the gardens ready for winter. The main tasks will be laying burlap and spreading sheet mulch.
Seattle Parks and Recreation will provide all of the tools, gloves, and materials. Folks may want to bring a dust mask if they’re sensitive. The Dragonfly Park is located on 28th Ave SW between Yancy and Adams [map].
If you’d like to meet your neighbors, help protect the watershed (a healthy park = a healthy creek!) and spend a little time outside before the winter sets in, head on over on Saturday morning between 9 and noon. Can’t attend this weekend, but want to keep up? (Go here) for news and neighborly camaraderie.
The group is tracking volunteer hours in order to apply for a city grant to purchase new plants and shrubs in the spring. Every little bit counts, so swing by and say hi.
If you know of a group or business might like to contribute financially or with volunteer hours, reach out to Laura Bruco at firstname.lastname@example.org. She’d love to hear from you.
A Little History
If you’re a dog lover or a nature lover, you may already know about Dragonfly Park. Back in the ’90s, Seattle artist Lorna Jordan designed dragonfly-shaped gardens and a metal pavilion shaped like a dragonfly, with a winding path leading down to Longfellow Creek. It’s still a magical little pocket park, but over the past decade this North Delridge neighborhood gem has fallen into disrepair. Until now.
A group of 60+ neighbors in the North Delridge / Luna Park area has teamed up with Seattle Parks and Recreation to restore the gardens to their earlier grandeur. Previous garden parties have focused on pruning, weeding and deadheading, as well as prepping the beds for this weekend’s sheet mulch.
After this weekend’s party, the Friends will focus on planning and fundraising for new plantings to go in next year. Phil Renfrow, Senior Gardener with Seattle Parks and Recreation, is leading the updated design efforts, with a focus on sustainability. The group is hoping that Lorna Jordan will speak at the park during an event in November.
(Click for larger view in PDF)
Last Sunday, we published a reminder about a city survey asking your thoughts on 36 possible “design elements” for the new West Seattle Junction park (4700 block of 40th SW). Commenters noted that the graphic showing those options remained difficult to read, and we promised to ask Seattle Parks for a larger, clearer version (since none existed on the Parks website at the time, either). Since then, they’ve provided a high-resolution version, and also added it to the project website – if you click the image above, you’ll go directly to the largest-available PDF version. In addition, the survey, which was supposed to close back on Monday, remains open. So here’s one more chance for your thoughts – the survey asks you to choose 10 of the 36 elements that you most would want to see in the park, which will be designed next year and developed in 2019.
The newly resurfaced track at West Seattle Stadium (4432 35th SW), closed since mid-summer, is ready to reopen. That’s what we found out from project manager Jay Rood, after calling him to check on its status. The million-dollar project was supposed to be done earlier this month but Rood says the recent rain delayed painting of stripes and other markings – its start had been delayed too, and that was attributed to the bidding process. Now the track and fencing are finished and he says they hope to have it reopened to the public by day’s end. The stadium, which is a Seattle Parks and Recreation Department facility, hasn’t been completely closed in recent weeks – some high-school football games have been played, but covering was in place over the track.
12:42 PM: Seattle Parks reports that Southwest Pool – which would usually be in the middle of a lap-swimming session right now – is temporarily closed. There’s a problem with the HVAC system, and crews are on scene working to fix it. They hope to reopen later today; we’ll update when we get word of that.
3:40 PM: As of just before 3, the pool is open again.
Which of those design features would you want to see in the new West Seattle Junction park? As mentioned in our coverage of last Tuesday’s Junction Neighborhood Organization meeting, they’re now part of a survey on the city website – and project manager Karimah Edwards tells WSB that the survey is closing tomorrow (Monday, September 25th), so this is your last chance to offer opinions at this stage of the project. It’s a simple survey, asking you to choose 10 of those 36 features, and asking your zip code – that’s it. Take it here. (If you stopped by the “open house” at the West Seattle Farmers’ Market two weeks ago, these are the same 36 features you were asked about there.)
So what’s next? Edwards says a meeting will be scheduled to go over “concept designs” resulting from this input: “The community will have the opportunity to select their preferred concept design during the second meeting. We anticipate mid-November.” Seattle Park District levy money – almost $2 million – is set aside for developing the park site in the 4700 block of 40th SW in 2019.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
When SDOT‘s last major review of West Seattle Junction parking resulted in this July 2009 announcement that it wouldn’t recommend metered parking, you could almost hear a huge collective sigh of relief.
That review had begun more than a year earlier, and months after the no-paid-street-parking news, ended with what we described at the time as “a relatively minor set of changes” – some tweaks to time limits.
But The Junction has had metered parking before – and the city’s new review has rekindled concerns that it will return. A lot has changed since the 2008-2009 review – primarily a dramatic amount of redevelopment adding hundreds of new apartments to the heart of The Junction – and some projects including fewer parking spaces than units, or even none, with the city changing its rules in 2012 to say that nearby “frequent transit” means parking might not be needed. (As reported here last week, those rules might be loosened even more.)
So with all that setting the stage, two SDOT reps were at last night’s Junction Neighborhood Organization meeting at the Senior Center/Sisson Building.. They weren’t the only speakers of interest – the next Junction park and a HALA update were part of the agenda too – but we start with the parking discussion:
11:00 A.M. – Event Begins! Activities continue until 5:00 P.M. unless otherwise
• Rock Climbing on Schurman Rock*
• Rappelling on the Glacier*
• Scavenger Hunt at Friends of Camp Long Table (Prizes!)
• The Falconer – Live Birds of Prey Presentation at West Shelter Area
• S’Mores at the Fire Circle
• Nature Programs
• And More!
Noon – High-Ropes Challenge Course Opens (runs until 5:00 P.M.)*†
1:00 P.M. – Bouldering Competition on Schurman Rock (runs until 3:00 P.M.)*
2:30 P.M. – Oswaldo “Ossy” Freire – Mount Everest Presentation in the Lodge
5:00 P.M. – Event Ends
*These events require signed waiver; parent waiver if under 18. Size/weight limits may apply due to
safety equipment availability.
Start time may be later than 11 A.M. While supplies last!
†Challenge Course for ages 14 and up only; limited spaces so arrive early; size/weight limits may apply
due to safety equipment availability; last group starts at 4 P.M.
Limited to 20 participants; experienced climbers only; event will involve difficult unroped climbing;
minors may participate with direct parent supervision and participation as spotter; participants must
supply their own crash pads and other gear.
Mountain Fest is free! Camp Long is at 5200 35th SW.
12:30 PM: Having previewed them last night, we decided to stop by the three West Seattle “mini-parks” on the city’s map for PARK(ing) Day, promoted as a chance to re-envision use of public spaces such as streets and sidewalks. Above, flowers and greenery comprise the display you’ll find outside Junction flower-and-gift shop Fleurt, courtesy of mother-and-daughter proprietors Sam and Keonii:
At Westwood Village, Wyatt’s Jewelers (WSB sponsor) has been a consistent participant in PARK(ing) Day. Co-proprietor Kirk Keppler was hanging out in the mini-park with canine companion Rascal when we visited:
They were awaiting assistance to get some games going in the space. And back in The Junction, the display outside Red Cup Espresso is a simple one – tricycles and flowers:
If you’re spending the day outside West Seattle, there might be a mini-park near you somewhere, with almost four dozen around the city – see SDOT’s citywide map in our preview from last night.
ADDED 1:06 PM: Red Cup Espresso has a face-painter on site until 4 pm!
Parking seems to be today’s theme – this is the third story involving it. Tomorrow is PARK(ing) Day, the day each September when temporary “parklets” pop up in parking spaces around the city. Above is this year’s map from SDOT, which put out the call for participation over the summer. Of the 47 one-day parklets planned around the city, three will be in West Seattle – outside Wyatt’s Jewelers (WSB sponsor) in Westwood Village, which participates every year, and outside Fleurt in The Junction (4536 California SW). Fleurt proprietor Sam Crowley says, “We are installing a 12-foot floral tepee out front. We will be set up by 10:30 am and plan to have it up until 6:30 tomorrow night.” They’re also planning cupcakes and deals. Plus, we see via the map that Red Cup Espresso in The Junction (4451 California SW) is participating too.