Much smaller crowd for the city Parks Department‘s project manager on the Myrtle Reservoir park project, Virginia Hassinger, at the quarterly Morgan Community Association meeting at The Kenney last night — but for a few minutes, it was even more contentious than the testiest moments of the last public meeting specifically about the park project (WSB coverage here). Main reason: As Hassinger reiterated, and as we reported here and here, “the decision is made” to set aside an area of the Myrtle park for a future “skate(board) feature.” The most pointed questions for her tonight sought to zero in on who made that decision, when it was made, and why High Point Community Center — listed in the city Skatepark Plan as the other option for a West Seattle skateboard park — was ruled out.
There is a lot more to the Myrtle Reservoir park, of course, than the northeast side where space will be set aside for the future skate feature. The “approved schematic design” finalized by the Parks Department last week is now online, as we mentioned yesterday — here’s a quick look:
Hassinger noted the “light green” area will be what’s called “eco-turf,” a planting mix that doesn’t need (or get) mowing; the department has experimented with several different mixes for this, she says, and the current state-of-the-art version is in place at Greenwood Park. Later in the meeting, she also fielded questions about whether the park will have picnic tables (“furnishings” are yet to be determined, she said), but first, came a relatively long and sometimes-heated discussion about the skate-feature set-aside and when, following the last public meeting, that decision was finalized — and it is final, she stated repeatedly, and in a variety of ways, such as “Parks will allow a skate feature at Myrtle,” and “… Parks wants to put the feature here; that decision has been made.”
Was the decision made by new Parks Department Superintendent Tim Gallagher, one attendee asked? Hassinger said it was more a decision from a team of department managers; “we have a new superintendent, and I wouldn’t put it all on his shoulders.” She also noted that the schematic design had to be reviewed by other city departments such as Seattle Public Utilities, since the reservoir and other facilities already on the land are theirs.
To those who tried to sort out where in the “process” they had missed the final decisionmaking for the “Myrtle or High Point, future skate park” decision landing on Myrtle, she said, “There was no process to evaluate the two sites. The (city) skatepark plan says the site choice is ‘to be determined’. We had this project (the Myrtle park). And at the second (public) meeting (on Myrtle), we had quite a large response from people in favor of it.” (Again, you can read that account, and the online comments that followed, here.)
That point led to some heated back-and-forth last night, as a few attendees suggested the majority of the supporters at that meeting were skatepark advocates from outside West Seattle, and wondered if the department had geographically collated comments as WS and no-WS. (Answer: no; but anecdotally overall, Hassinger said, the sentiment during and after that meeting was 2-to-1 pro-skate feature.)
But she also stressed, it’s not as if the skate feature, “10,000 square feet or less,” is going to magically appear sometime soon: “I don’t have any money for it, I don’t have a budget to hire a designer, I don’t have the direction at this time (to proceed with designing and building it). The design has this area set aside for a ‘future’ skate feature.”
So if that decision has been made, a meeting-goer asked, what’s the May 1st public meeting about? Hassinger replied, with only the slightest hint of exasperation, “If you think beyond the skate spot, we’ve got a whole park here.” But, came another question, if the Parks Department makes all the decisions, then what decisions do we make as a community?
“You get to have input about the park,” she replied. “It’s not a community DECISIONMAKING process, it’s community INPUT.”
But back again to the skateboard feature, isn’t this a decision made out of convenience? wondered MoCA information coordinator Cindi Barker — a decision that might eventually turn out to be penny-wise, pound-foolish? Hassinger suggested she write to the manager in charge of the city Skatepark Plan, Kevin Stoops, and share that sentiment. (His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org)
After more than 45 minutes of discussion, the MoCA meeting attendees seemed to generally make some peace with the concept; president Steve Sindiong noted, “I think the fact that we’re getting two new parks in our neighborhood right now is great.” (Hassinger is also project manager for the Morgan Junction park going in on ex-monorail land next to the new Beveridge Place Pub location; her e-mail address is email@example.com; you can expect to see her in person at the next meeting for the Myrtle park plan, 7 pm May 1, High Point Community Center.)