A place to play: Come take a new look at Cottage Grove

It’s an often-used quote attributed to the late music legend John Lennon: Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans. This manifests in ways large and small – just ask North Delridge resident Betsy Hoffmeister, who’s spent the past year spearheading an effort to create a place at Cottage Grove Park (above) for the littlest kids in her neighborhood to play (here’s our first report from 2/22/08). We reported two weeks ago that the plan was evolving, and now Betsy is inviting you to help:

Are you interested in building a play space appropriate for the youngest children in Delridge at 26th Ave SW and SW Brandon St? If so, please attend a site review meeting with the Department of Parks and the Department of Neighborhoods on Thursday, February 19 at 11 a.m. If the weather is really bad, we will meet at the Neighborhood Service Center next door to the library on Delridge Way. Some background:

It’s been exactly a year since a group of parents in the Delridge neighborhood of Cottage Grove brought up the idea of building a tot lot at the site of the Cottage Grove Park on 26th Ave SW and Brandon. The City recently put in a new playground there, and we neighbors find it really difficult to use. The equipment is intended for older children, but the kids in our neighborhood don’t seem to play on it. There is absolutely nothing for toddlers to do, so families with mixed groups of kids tend to go to the other playgrounds in other communities. We held a series of discussions and public meetings to come up with an idea and decided on building an additional playground on the site, to contain a double bay swingset for tots and older kids, a small climber, and some spring toys. Lots of neighbors and businesses chipped in, we brought this to the City, and were awarded a Small and Simple Grant to pursue the project but with lots of preconditions.

One of the preconditions was for a landscape architect to draw a site design. A lovely volunteer architect drew up a site plan and ushered it through the City’s multi-step review process.

The result of the review process was a bit of a shock. The Parks Department folks decided that with all the concrete retaining wall, building drainage, moving irrigation pipes, moving trees, and other hardware stuff, the project is likely to cost on the order of $200,000. Yeah, I know, that’s a little nuts, considering that the equipment itself is less than $20,000!

Their suggestion was to come back and ask the neighborhood – rather than building a new playground, what could we do with the playground we already have to improve it? In the very near future, we will have a big old public meeting to discuss this. I have finally met one single family who loves this playground and we want to hear what they love about it, but we also want to hear from folks who don’t love it, what they’d like to change.

In the meantime, we went ahead and applied for a Neighborhood Matching Fund grant to try to get the money we’d need to build out, but that is only up to $50,000 matching. The meeting on Thursday is to look at the site, discuss options, and talk about preparing the full proposal to the city. We need some warm bodies, with or without children, to come along and demonstrate the difficulties of using this play equipment and talk about what we would like to see done. Please come out and help. Contact me, Betsy, at betsy at hoffmeisters dot com for more information.

Cottage Grove Park is at 5206 26th SW; here’s a map.

8 Replies to "A place to play: Come take a new look at Cottage Grove"

  • lashanna February 18, 2009 (10:30 am)

    I used to live a two blocks from the park. i never wanted to take my kids there because of the suspect houses on 26th between bandon and findlay. there are about 5-8 houses that have “traffic” at all times of the day. When we would walk down the street we’d be oggled at or just feel like we should walk quickly. It didn’t take me too long to realize that i should take 25th instead.
    A tot lot would be great- a regular park would be awesome! there are only so many times an 8 year old feel challanged at the strenth testing play tools currently there…modern park or modern art….

    So here’s to you for working on the project- now let’s just get the police to bust those houses and clean up that street! they we might have one of those parks that parents love to bring their children to!

  • Tomario February 18, 2009 (11:12 am)

    I agree Lashanna,

    I have witnessed many times what appeared to be deals going down at Greg Davis park (which is right accross the street from Cottage Grove). Also have seen little baggies left behind at the picnic table.

    Suspected drug activity seems to come in waves…I will notice a bunch over a couple days…and then none for weeks.

    This area is too nice for such ugliness…while it is true that non-drug crime is low for the cottage grove area, meth and/or crack innevitably lead to property crime.

  • Gina February 18, 2009 (1:54 pm)

    Perhaps the North Admiral Park group could donate their park money to this one. Look at all the room for romping!

  • Longfellar February 18, 2009 (2:01 pm)

    I live a few blocks from the park and ashamed to admit a little afraid to walk in that area. I once walked the Longfellow Creek trail just behind 26th SW and was followed by 2 pitt bulls that were unleashed and no owner around. Lucky for us, we were close to the street and the dogs stopped at the trail entrance and let me and my husband away. We were both petrified.

  • Denny February 18, 2009 (2:17 pm)

    The biggest crime here is the Parks Department’s continued ability to hold neighborhoods hostage to their high costs for development.
    This is classic City beauracracy – it will costs ten times the value of the item we are putting there to put it there.
    How many different parks does P&R get to do this with?
    Skateboard Park – we could draw the plans, and probably even put it in delridge (which has the worst bus access for young people), but there’s no money in the levy we just approved to build it. Even though we’ve had an approved city skate park plan for +6 years.
    Junction Park – $600k for a small lot worth of trees, grass and concrete. I heard they worked it down to $400,000 – that’s still too much. And it has sat there for 10 years.
    Ercolini, Morgan Junction, Dakota? Everyone of them required siginificant local fundraising to get off the books and into development. Even then, most still aren’t done.
    I love the parks that we have, and wish they were managed so that we could afford them and get the most out of them.
    As for crime at Cottage Grove – if it was actively used by local families for recreation, dealers would look for less busy places elsewhere.

  • AJP February 18, 2009 (5:30 pm)

    No Change to the Park! Not in My Backyard! Oh wait…that’s a different park…

  • NJ February 18, 2009 (9:27 pm)

    I’m a few houses north of the park, I have been here for almost two years and have NEVER felt uncomfortable. I’ve walked the trails, to the mini mart, enjoyed the garden, and to the park (we still haven’t figured how to use the current play structure, any hints on that would be greatly appreciated). My kid walks to and from school. You make your neighborhood what you want it to be. Smile at your neighbors!!!!

  • 56bricks February 19, 2009 (6:49 am)

    Ummmmm,”Still haven’t figured how to use the current play structure”??? Are kids that indoctrinated to remote controls? You’re scaring me here.

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