Details: California Place Park disagreement has yet to dim

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

The two most recent major meetings we covered both severely tested the perennial reputation of Seattle as Politeness Capital of the World.

First there was the Seattle School Board‘s special meeting last Thursday to vote on dramatic closures and changes, amid heckling, booing, chanting, and frustration.

Then, for a few minutes tonight at Alki Community Center, the first of three “design workshops” to plot the future of California Place Park had a lot in common with what we saw at school district headquarters five nights earlier.

In addition to shouting and disruption, the main common trait was that in each case, the 100-member-plus audience was dominated by people who would have preferred the meeting wouldn’t have happened at all.

First, the background: The proposal to examine California Place Park for possible “improvements” dates back to last summer, when Manuela Slye, one of the founders of park-project organizers Friends and Neighbors of North Admiral (FANNA), spoke to the Admiral Neighborhood Association. (We first reported on the proposal June 25th.) At the time, she talked of a playground; in subsequent months, as the group pursued a city matching-funds grant to pay for the design process that is under way now, that evolved to the term “playscape.” Serious opposition surfaced in August; later that month, FANNA got word it had won the $15,000 city Neighborhood Matching Funds grant for park design.

As tonight’s meeting ended, one attendee suggested the spending of that money should stop right now: “Go back to the drawing board and don’t spend another ten thousand dollars.”

The last major meeting about California Place Park was tense as well; that one happened three months ago at Hiawatha Community Center (WSB coverage here). The same suggestion was made at that meeting, as noted in our report from that night — why even continue with this progress, if opponents are outnumbering supporters at meetings and in petition signatures (no-changes campaigner Jan Bailey told us tonight she now has more than 640 signatures on her petition, 200 more than three months ago)?

“The park belongs to the whole city,” explained Karen Kiest, the landscape architect (and former Seattle Design Commission chair) whose firm has the $15,000 contract for this stage of the process. That echoed what Parks manager Mickey Fearn had said at the November meeting, that people who take the time to show up don’t necessarily represent … the total public will of a community.”

The will of tonight’s meeting was undeniably focused on keeping the park as is:


A few minutes into the meeting, Kiest introduced herself and tried to begin a presentation about California Place Park and somewhat comparable neighborhood park proposals. That’s when the first round of shouting began; when Kiest tried to calm the crowd by saying she understood their concerns, shouts replied, “No, you DON’T!” Voices from all corners demanded to know when they would get to ask questions, and Kiest attempted to explain the “design workshop” process — “We will be contributing ideas at the tables” where most in attendance were seated, preparing for small-group discussions after her presentation — but that didn’t settle anyone down either.

Finally, after she repeatedly asked for quiet so that the meeting could proceed, those who were shouting settled down to listen. Her presentation included some projects with which she had been involved in the past, including Stevens Place Park — “also a triangle (shaped) park” — on Beacon Hill, seen here in Google Street View:

View Larger Map

“What we did at this park was pretty modest,” she explained, discussing a “reading circle” created in response to the nearby library, and noting that the project’s second phase never did get built.

Acknowledging again that she realized many in the crowd were concerned about change, she also discussed a cemetery-centered park which once had been suggested as an off-leash area but by the time the design process was through, resulted only in a “recommendation … to cut the hedge.”

She showed aerial views of both California Place Park and the smaller nearby triangle of SDOT right-of-way that FANNA originally had eyed; since it runs along Ferry Avenue, Kiest suggested maybe there’s a way to connect the two and tell the story of the long-ago ferry run down the hill.

As she segued into an explanation of the small-group process that would ensue, giving participants the chance to draw park ideas — “maybe you envision a tree, maybe a bench” — and to write comments, she was interrupted again, with one man declaring, “You’ve taken more than your 10 minutes!”

Kiest tried again to defuse the disruptions, repeating “I understand many of you don’t want any changes to the park,” then being interrupted again — by a long round of applause.

But as the small-group conversations finally began, the room settled into a productive-sounding level of chatter. Bailey began walking its periphery with her NO CHANGES TO PARK sign (see photo atop this article) and petition forms.

Kiest and assistants circulated through the room during the 20-plus minutes that groups were given to brainstorm, draw, and comment. Others circulating included Matthew Slye of FANNA, looking ahead already to the next design workshop on a Saturday morning in March and wondering aloud if more families might show up for that one.

Reconvening the participants as one large group, Kiest observed that she hadn’t seen much drawing going on. As she asked each table to share one “green card” comment – something positive about CP Park — and one “red card” comment — a concern about the park and/or project — it was obvious why: Few of those in attendance were interested in envisioning anything but the status quo.

The only potential change that was mentioned more than once was adding some seating. (A reading area was also suggested.) Otherwise, as one woman phrased it, “leave the grass alone.” A man at another table echoed, “We feel unanimously that the park should remain completely unchanged; we like the park exactly the way it is – we really like the trees and we really like the grass.” That brought prolonged applause and even laughter.

“We don’t want some hideous play structure there,” said another woman.

And there was a concern: “The process was insulting because (we thought) you would hear our expressions of needs and come to us with a response, rather than coming to us with a predetermined design.” (Kiest noted repeatedly that no “predetermined design” had been presented.)

Before his table finished its turn, a man who had called out repeatedly earlier in the evening said, “I still want my question answered — Is ‘no action’ an option?”

Yes, Kiest replied “The second meeting will show alternatives, and that will include ‘no change’.”

The man admitted he’d like to see “handicapped access” added, then saying, “but you don’t need this meeting for that,” drawing laughter.

Another table suggested focusing on the “southern triangle,” the smaller parcel owned by SDOT; Kiest said the Parks Department “has been working to facilitate management (of that land) since November,” but clarified her task was to discuss California Place Park itself.

With a few minutes left for questions and comments, one attendee observed that the invitation to the meeting had come from the Parks Department, and wondered where they were represented; Kiest pointed out Kellee Jones, the project’s liaison between Parks and the Department of Neighborhoods, which facilitates the type of grant that is funding this process.

So, someone else asked, “How is the majority going to be ‘voted’?”

Kiest replied, “It’s not a vote – we’re trying to find options to see what will resonate .. The whole city owns the park.”

Another attendee chimed in with dissatisfaction about the meeting format: “I ask that the next meeting be divided between you and the representative of the Parks Department … this is backward. You should have asked what people who use the park feel they need; putting alternatives before us is putting the cart before the horse.”

“We haven’t designed anything,” noted Kiest. “I’m not here to draw anything – I’m here to hear what to draw.” A few minutes later, she added, “I appreciate this level of input … but it’s gotten more of a level of concern than it typically would.”

The process can be frustrating, said a man at the back of the room, but is important to follow through to the end.

Then a woman toward the front tried to offer a perspective that hadn’t been heard: “It’s true there’s a boisterous ‘no change’ group … I think people should open their hearts to possibilities … Seattle has a rich history of not wanting change.”

That drew boos and other interruptions before she could resume, “The thing is, there are things that can be done to enhance it, still keeping the grass, the trees, the beauty … enriching it and making it a better place where we can gather as a community.” She offered a few ideas, and received more boos.

Kiest thanked the audience, and the meeting was over. Next one, 10:30 am-noon on March 7, followed by 7 pm April 16, both also at Alki Community Center; what happens during this design process will determine what happens next — if a plan for park changes is the result, the Parks Department would have final say, as keeper of the site, but the community organizers – FANNA – would more than likely have to figure out how to pay for it.

All WSB coverage of California Place Park, including our short report from earlier tonight, is archived here.

82 Replies to "Details: California Place Park disagreement has yet to dim"

  • My two cents ... February 4, 2009 (5:05 am)

    First and foremost, I don’t have strong feelings either way towards the development of this site. That being said, I find it disappointing and discouraging that the purpose of this meeting was seemingly hijacked by the group opposing the development of this property. This was a design workshop – not a forum for debate on the pros and cons of the site and how, or if it should be developed. Maybe we can do more of this – shouting and disrupting the process seems like such a productive and trend setting way of dealing with issues.

  • JJ February 4, 2009 (6:17 am)

    What a bunch of useless complainers–the worst of West Seattle. Nothing to do but rant about any kind of change or progress.

  • jam February 4, 2009 (6:38 am)

    I seriously hope they just leave the park the way it is. I live across the street from this area and it is beautiful. The sounds of screaming kids is NOT something I would look forward too.

  • Meghan February 4, 2009 (7:14 am)

    Sounds more like a scene from “The Simpsons” than a real meeting. But as a few previous commenters have noted, that’s the way things seem to so often happen in West Seattle. The always self-serving “no changes ever” group relentlessly whines and shouts down any and all proposals for any change that may benefit the greater good (the completed sidewalk around Alki Point also comes to mind), so ultimately money is wasted and nothing ultimately gets done.

  • Dave February 4, 2009 (7:49 am)

    Jesus I hate people in this town, get a life you losers! Don’t you people have anything better to do than whine? Parks are for kids, let them build something for the kids to play with! Sorry if you don’t like the sound of kids playing, move to the Yukon! Or better yet, maybe visit a place where people struggle to eat every day, then take a good look at your life.

  • owen February 4, 2009 (8:00 am)

    A discussion of what changes, if any, to make to a small park results in repeated outbursts of shouting. What an embarassment for West Seattle. I walk by the park regularly with my son and my suggestions for improvements would be to:
    1) remove a portion of the grass and replace with more naturalistic plantings, and
    2) install curb ramps to make the sidewalk more walkable.
    But that would mean making a change to the park. Since it’s not important enough for me to scream about, I’m unlikely to attend any future public meetings. Mickey Fearn had it right… just because you show up and you are loud doesn’t mean you represent the total public will of the community. I hope the designer and City staff continue to believe that as the process continues.

  • Gregory Wade February 4, 2009 (9:21 am)

    I see the outburst as problematic in it’s nature; however, I’d caution against a broad dismissal of the concerns. The decision making process is flawed: simply because a group organizes, and slaps “friend” on the front of an acronym, does not mean the interest group is representative of the broader community.

    A dismissal of a disorganized expression of concern–which is what this is– will only lead to greater push back. As the City begins to realize falling revenues, I fear they will also reap a windfall associated with its exclusionary decision-making process, and inflated expectations associated with it.

    I also think the logic “the City owns the park” is part of the problem. A city council, and a parks department, that represents “everybody” in effect represents NOBODY beyond associations. I believe there is a vigorous opposition waiting to emerge, so push back all you want–just don’t be surprise at the response.

  • Gregory Wade February 4, 2009 (9:25 am)

    Clarification: when I suggest an opposition, I am referring to the status quo, and not this particular incident which is merely an expression of the underlying problem.

  • Donna February 4, 2009 (9:38 am)

    Keep up the good work, FANNA. You have been reasonable and flexible in the face of those that are anything but. (No changes except the changes I want!) They do not represent the majority, nor the neighbors who look forward to a more enjoyable space. These people are the reason we have an ancient public transporation system and our viaduct is a crumbling deathtrap.

  • acemotel February 4, 2009 (10:03 am)

    It was a meeting with a lot of elderly people acting like children! They must sit at home all day long ruminating on this to keep their heart rates up. Whoever has spread misinformation throughout the community should be ashamed of themselves. Don’t they realize they could get EXACTLY what they wanted if they participated in the design process. I agree with Owen, it’s a colossal embarrassment for West Seattle.

  • Ted February 4, 2009 (10:09 am)

    I have lived near this “Park” for 16 years and until this controversy erupted and people started collecting signatures at the site, did not even realized the property in question was park property. It looks like part of the church lawn. My suspicion is that some people like it that way so as not to attract visitors. If it is park land it should be marked as such. It would also be nice to do something with the right of way across the street.

  • Lance February 4, 2009 (10:21 am)

    Spending taxpayer money for someone that doesn’t want to walk 5 blocks up to Hiawatha park is a crime. Can’t believe this park issue got this far.

    Someone that has a daycare and wants to have us pay for her clients play area is rediculous. Walk the five blocks to a park that’s existing. Everyone else does. The grass and trees are just fine the way that they are.

    Also, funny how 80% of the people oppose this but yet get labled the bad guys for not wanting change. Isn’t this a democracy?

    FANNA is a joke if they support this rennovation. Think of other people instead of just yourself.

  • Tanya February 4, 2009 (10:24 am)

    I’m not a shouter but I love the park as is. I love kids too, but some kids prefer the current natural area for play. If not then Hiawatha Playfield has developed play structures and wading pool just a few blocks away. If the park is left alone we have this choice. But if the park is developed we lose one peaceful grassy treescape and get two developed play areas.

  • three cents February 4, 2009 (10:27 am)

    Has anyone ever seen anyone actually using this park in its current condition? Not really. I saw a man throwing a tennis ball for his dog on one occasion (off-leash… a hazard to everyone). Ironically, the most frequent user of the park in its current condition is the “No Changes Lady”. That being said, it’s a terrible use of open space. If changed, people will actually USE this small park for recreation, which is the underlying mission of Seattle Parks. On occasion, the playscape park will be empty, and the “No Changes” people can look out their windows with glee at an empty park. Other times, children will play with equal glee. Can’t we all agree that this is the best compromise? Seems like the least selfish approach.

  • Lance February 4, 2009 (10:45 am)

    Dave, your comments about not wanting to hear kids playing and look at your life is a total copout and a joke. I don’t think that people don’t want to hear children playing. Maybe actually a few but the point is about spending public funds on another park rennovation when parks are being closed. Also the economy is in the toilet and they want to spend public funds on a completely self serving project for a few people.

    Sure it’d be nice to have another nice area but is it really neccessary? No. That’s the point. completely redundant and a waste of Washington funds.

  • dwar February 4, 2009 (10:47 am)

    The only embarassment to West Seattle is people who sit back and let people like the FANNAS, the Park Dept., and the Dept of Neighborhoods bulldoze them with a feloneous and decieving project such as this one!!

  • marco February 4, 2009 (10:49 am)

    @jam – are you mute?
    You were a kid once. And I bet you screamed.

    The Design Review Meetings was pathetic. People were afraid to bring forward their ideas, because of the hostile atmosphere. That doesn’t help anyone, as any sane and rational person will understand.

  • Donna February 4, 2009 (11:02 am)

    “The sounds of screaming kids is NOT something I would look forward too.” Quote from jam. Dave’s right, evidently people don’t want to hear children playing.

    Parks are exactly the type of activity public funds are for. And parks are needed most when the economy is in the toilet. The funds stimulate the local economy and provide an enjoyable place to go when people can’t afford to go a movie or the aquarium or the zoo or whatever. I just hope people disregard the misinformation being shoveled out by a loud few and find out the facts.

  • Dennis Ross February 4, 2009 (11:02 am)

    THANK YOU to all of the people who support the effor of tht NO CHANGE TO PARK campaign!! And a special thanks to all of you that made the time to attend the “Design Process” meeting even though it was held outside of our area at the Alki Ccommunity Center!!

  • owen February 4, 2009 (11:05 am)

    Lance, I think it’s pretty clear that the folks that oppose changes to the park get labeled the bad guys not for their opinion, but the shrill manner in which some present it (see dwar above).
    And as long as we’re listing what’s available within walking distance, I’d like to point out that you can see all the grass you want at Hamilton Viewpoint about 5 blocks to the north.

  • RN February 4, 2009 (11:09 am)

    Last night, our table came up with a positive discovery- the parks dept property goes right to the church building. So the usable park area could be extended where it now goes down the slope. Make it flat by adding dirt, with a seating area/playscape/etc installed in this area (and it is good sized and away from the street!). The interior triangle with the trees wouldn’t change. Just one of the ideas that should be discussed further.

  • Lance February 4, 2009 (11:21 am)

    There is definitly a good and a bad way to approach any situation. You can be calm and explain your opnion or scream and yell. Some have been name calling and so on.

    I think in the meeting last night (I was not there but my mom was) if you opposed or had anything negative to say you should leave. Negative meaning against their plan.

    It is a public forum paid for with public funds. With that being said you should be able to speak your opinion. My mother was called names by some younger attendees and bumped and just plain disrespected by people for the project. When she told me about it this morning I was shocked and annoyed.
    The small group that created this sham should be the ones ashamed and appologize to the people of Seattle for wasting taxpayer money for their own personal gain. Walk to Hiawatha with your daycare kids. Just make sure and look both ways before you cross the street and it’ll be plenty safe.

  • acemotel February 4, 2009 (11:28 am)

    Lance, there are no parks being closed in Seattle. The people in this city just voted in a parks levy. If you know of Seattle parks being closed, please contact the city council right away!

    Three cents, I am curious what does the “no changes” lady (the one who has been spreading misinfomation, apparently) actually use this park for? What is her personal interest?

    At the very least, the signage at this park needs to improve to alert people to the fact it’s a public park, and not the side yard of the church. It’s also not the front yard of the homes surrounding it. Public land should be designated.

  • Keith February 4, 2009 (11:33 am)

    Seems like this contentious little piece of property might be better named “The Generation Gap.”

  • Jan Bailey February 4, 2009 (11:56 am)

    Thank you to all who supported **NO CHANGE TO PARK** and made the effort to attend the meeting. There is not a format, instruction book or “process” provided by the City to oppose a project. We do not receive a step by step hand holding, financing or assigned “project manager”. Oppostion just receives e-mails from City officials to attend the community meetings. Which many are doing. Unfortunately the “process” does not seem the have a place for opposers. Thus, as seen in other community meetings, groups are reduced to being vocal. This does not mean they want to be or are like that all the time. **NO CHANGE** is not a vocal minority. They are the majority. As people flowed into the meeting I knew we far outnumbered the FANNA supporters. Why? Because I personally have met these people in the park and know their faces and concerns for the neighborhood as a whole. Thank you again for attending a difficult meeting.

  • Donna February 4, 2009 (12:37 pm)

    Ms. Bailey, just because you estimated that the opposition at the meeting outnumbered the FANNA supporters does not mean your position is the majority. I have quietly followed and supported FANNA. I did not attend last night’s meeting because I have attended past meetings and I believe FANNA represents my interests. Are you counting me and possibly hundreds of others like me in your tally? FANNA followed the rules in obtaining its funding, and now it has a right to use it.

  • Forest February 4, 2009 (1:17 pm)

    I suggest that Parks might bring in some temporary play equipment for a month or two and see how much use the equipment gets from parents and kids not affiliated with the private preschool whose owner is more or less sponsoring the campaign for installing play equipment at public expense.

  • WSB February 4, 2009 (1:21 pm)

    Just a reminder that WSB rules prohibit insulting or deriding other participants in a discussion such as this thread. I have just had to delete one such comment. You are absolutely welcome to disagree with each other but our rule boils down to “Criticize the idea/opinion, NOT the person.” There are some websites where anything goes, from insults to profanity to offtopic irrelevant (or worse) comments. This is not one of them. Enforcement is subjective because there is no way to write rules so thoroughly that every possible scenario is addressed – but since we are ultimately accountable for the site, we have the final say, since SOMEBODY has to. Thanks again to all those who participate in discussions civilly, to both voice their opinions and seek information – TR

  • WSMom February 4, 2009 (2:25 pm)

    Ercolini Park is a gem in my neighborhood. I see families walking together to play at this little pocket park. The sounds of children talking and playing are a wonderful, life giving addition to our neighborhood. I’d invite the Admiral district neighbors to spend an little time in Ercolini park on a Saturday afternoon. The friendliness is infectious.

  • WSMom too February 4, 2009 (2:59 pm)

    My four children don’t matter to these **NO CHANGE** people. They must believe they will live forever so their park should stay the way it has been for the last “hundred years” for another hundred more. Because my children (yours, everyone’s) are the ones that will be running this world when we all are gone, this selfish attitude makes me sick.

  • Peter February 4, 2009 (3:02 pm)

    Is it too late to propose a skatepark?

    North Admiral needs more ‘radical’!

  • Texas February 4, 2009 (4:03 pm)

    sounds like the perfect location for tent city!

  • Thanksforbeingtolerant February 4, 2009 (4:28 pm)

    I still do not understand why some people have spent so much time and energy to oppose a design process. A design process. Yes, that’s what this is. A process to figure out how to improve a park that is not really used (except by someone who gathers signatures to show opposition to the design process). Seriously? Are people opposing a design process because they don’t want other people to use a piece of land that they consider “theirs” simply because of the park’s proximity to their houses? I cannot fathom how this process has devolved into this “us” against “them” mentality. It is bewildering and upsetting.

  • Lance February 4, 2009 (4:41 pm)

    My four children don’t matter to these **NO CHANGE** people. They must believe they will live forever so their park should stay the way it has been for the last “hundred years” for another hundred more. Because my children (yours, everyone’s) are the ones that will be running this world when we all are gone, this selfish attitude makes me sick

    This person is a prime example of what’s wrong with this issue. They automatically go to the fact that people that aren’t for this horrific waste of money as uncaring towards children. How many parks with play gear should we have? One on every block? Should we so’s to keep people from having to walk too far to get to one that’s existing? I have a 10 year old so don’t jump on me. I am fortunate to live within walking distance to a park but that was a reason for me getting the house in the first place. However, if I lived where this park is being planned wouldn’t me a stretch to walk to Hiawatha. I walked from 46th and Holgate to Madison every day for school rain or shine. Be realistic. We can’t have parks and little mini parks every couple blocks. Go to Hiawatha, Lafayette playground, Alki playground, etc…. Geez. Just because there isn’t a park smack dab across the street from your house doesn’t mean your entitled to one. And being responsible and realistic doesn’t automatically make you uncaring or not for childeren. It’s smarter to save money now so you’re kids aren’t in more debt than they are now. Think about that one next time you want something like this. As it stands right now every man woman in child in the country is in debt 50k due to reckless spending. That’d be current deficit dollars if you’re wondering or don’t know. Every dollar spent counts. Also, those little meetings…. 15k. Seems like a lot for some crayons and some paper.

  • Loki February 4, 2009 (4:59 pm)

    All this uproar about a little park? So sad.
    Forest, it’s my understanding that there would be no “play” equipment, just a redesign of the space. What’s a matter with a nicer space? I don’t get it.

  • Free Lunch February 4, 2009 (6:36 pm)

    A few months ago a womon (not the no-change lady) came to my door trying to get a petition against any change signed. I was baffled, as most people seem to be, so I asked a lot of questions. Her biggest complaint seemed to be that she – a near neighbor – was not consulted.

    And yet here there’s a meeting for exactly that purpose, and instead of participating (like, say, ensuring that no “ugly play structure” is constructed – the red herring that the no-change people always raise), they behave shamefully. I hope at least some of them are embarrased by this coverage.

    Realize, this is city property, not yours. If change comes, and you didn’t participate when asked, you deserve what you get.

  • Huh? February 4, 2009 (7:04 pm)

    I have no idea what the big deal is. Money seems to be the big theme. Really? Money?

    Meanwhile, I’m sure these are the same people who complained and got the nearby traffic circle installed. Where was the hysteria over the $10,000 that cost? I don’t live on that street, yet I paid for it. (I should have held vigil with a sign.) Money indeed.

    But I guess when all your other arguments make people look at you like you’re crazy, money works.

  • WSMom too February 4, 2009 (7:07 pm)

    Hey Lance, there are a lot of things wrong with this issue, the main one not being respectful to other’s opinion. Mine reflects how I feel and it is just that, a personal opinion. Respect that.

  • Old Fogie February 4, 2009 (7:16 pm)

    Get off my lawn!

  • bdb February 4, 2009 (7:48 pm)

    Lance, keep it to a paragraph next time…geez…where were you when your city parks were putting in all those dumb ass meridian planter strips at the top of Admiral Way (around the the veiw point). Who planned that joke? All that does is screw up left turns. That was a waste.

  • Lance February 4, 2009 (8:19 pm)

    I’ll keep it brief. A friend made a really good point. All these funds are already allocated and if it isn’t this project it would be another. So, there you go. You can have an opinion, I’m just saying mine, you don’t need to agree with it and you’re entitled to yours. We’re all one voice. Do what you think is right. Maybe I’m way off base and off my rocker. Seems reasonable to me tho. West Seattle, in my opinion is the best place to live in the entire country.


  • Jeez Louise February 4, 2009 (8:30 pm)

    Being loud and rude doesn’t make a group more numerous. Majority? Please. The worst possible strategy the no-changers could devise would be to force a vote on this. A better tactic is to just shout down people who don’t agree. As you can see from these comments, you are only hurting your own cause.

  • homesweethome February 4, 2009 (8:35 pm)

    So many valuable lessons here – let’s take a teachable moment from this entire process. Clearly, many life lessons are learned in play that serve us all well into the future, and it just seems that some folks have forgotten the golden rules of play. Share. Take turns. Let others speak. Be respectful even if you disagree. It doesn’t matter if you’re for or against the idea of the renovation, but maybe everyone could take a deep breath and relax. And perhaps maintain some level of civility towards each other.

  • WSB February 4, 2009 (8:49 pm)

    To the person who signed their comment AdmiralResident but provided a nonworking e-mail address: Your comment was not approved because of one small part – it otherwise was a clear and well-observed first-person account, and I’d be happy to e-mail it back to you so you can resubmit without the part that violates our rules – and with a valid e-mail address.

  • Lance February 4, 2009 (9:32 pm)

    comments on the last post from homesweethome is right on the money. Maybe I wasn’t playing nice and will be first to admit. My bad.

  • RN February 4, 2009 (10:24 pm)

    There was some positive outcomes in last night’s California Place meeting too. Our table discovered that the property line for the park goes right to the edge of the church building. There is a large space available to work with that would be protected, and away from the street. You could add some fill, make it level with a fence toward the back, and have a seating area with plantings, some boulders and driftwood to play on and around etc. This would be a perfect destination for our kids to ride their bikes, for seniors from the assisted living facility (or me in a couple decades) to motor their wheelchairs, for dog walkers to rest, and for preschoolers to play. And you’d have a fabulous view of the trees in the park, with no change needed to the trees or interior triangle lawn area. In fact your view would be exactly where the photograph was taken in the WSB photo above. Currently no one sees this view unless you are standing at the edge of the berm!

    Comments like “I live nearby and don’t want to hear kids screaming in the park” are sad but atypical I hope. I’m hoping that those of us who want to increase the sense of neighborhood can join together and make something positive happen, a neighborhood gathering place for all of us, in this wonderful central location.

  • randy February 4, 2009 (10:39 pm)

    people do use the park every day, from walking thru it, walking dogs, playing frisbee, just sitting in the green lush grass, feeding the birds, dancing under the trees, kids playing ball, kids dont always need play equipment to be satisfied in a park. keep it the way it is. the FANNA group has a business interest in the park, just walk to the hiawatha park and get some exercise rather than herding the kids into the van all the time.

  • Three cents February 4, 2009 (11:08 pm)

    Hey acemotel- you asked what I meant by saying that “no change lady” seems to be the only one using the park. She is the number one user of the park, but only when she dons her sandwich board. Otherwise, I believe the park is largely unused.

    I see a lot of talk about money on this thread. In a time when we can all use more cash, can’t we all agree that this generous gift from the city will increase our home values? I wish opposers would stop looking a gift horse in the mouth.

  • acemotel February 5, 2009 (12:06 am)

    Someone puts on a sandwich board and stands in the park??? ha ha ha ha
    thanksforbeingtolerant, Amen. Great comment.

  • jw February 5, 2009 (12:15 am)

    The sounds of [children enjoying life] is NOT something I would look forward to.

  • WSMom February 5, 2009 (10:11 am)

    I grew up in Portland with two parks one block away from my house. The one at the end of my block had softball fields, a “rec shack” manned with college students who hung out with us and taught me how to hula hoop, and a wading pool; the park around the corner we called “tree park” had a cool tricycle trail and a fast merry-go-round that I could spend hours on and not get dizzy. I spent part of every day in one of those two parks. These were not little pocket parks either. Portland is considered a more livable city today because of the foresight of residents and city planners who designed the city with a park literally around every corner. That West Seattle residents would reject an opportunity to enhance a park space makes no sense to me.

  • AJP February 5, 2009 (11:37 am)

    I think it should be turned into a temporary cage fighting ring and let everybody go at it, sandwich board lady included. Mee-ow!

  • dwar February 5, 2009 (12:55 pm)

    NO HARM TO THE CHURCH11 — This congregation has been an excellent neighbor and is a benefit to this community. They have ALSO been an excellent partner to the Park Dept. in landscaping and maintaing the hillside area next to the church building for 60 YEARS. This partnership with the Park Dept. must continue to be respected. This landscaping is one of the assets of this park and it is disgraceful that someone would even suggest that it should be backfilled and destroyed. NO CHANGE TO THE PARK — NO HARM TO THE CHURCH!!

  • acemotel February 5, 2009 (1:24 pm)

    The property does NOT belong to the church. Is this lobbying effort taking place on behalf of the church? Is it congregation members who are so vehemently opposed?

  • Disappointed February 5, 2009 (6:27 pm)

    I attended the meeting as a pro-change participant and was quite shocked at the adolescent behavior of many of the NO CHANGE participants. While there was probably rude behavior pointed back at them, it was only because they set that tone at the meeting. (although, I’m not excusing calling people names)I understand that many expected the meeting to be some sort of vote and did not expect the format presented. However, it still is no excuse to behave that way. They were given equal opportunity to participate and share their ideas. Instead, they sat in disgust and offered not one compromise or suggestion. In reality, their biggest complaint (removal of trees) isn’t really an issue. It was pretty obvious from my perspective that most of the people suggesting change want enhancements like additional landscaping and seating – not some play structure. As it is, this so-called park does NOT bring people together. Sure, people walk through it and an occassional kid throws a football, but it’s not a gathering place in its current state. Why not create enhancements that ALL can enjoy? I moved into the neighborhood because of the diversity of age, family status, etc. I see the enhancements really bringing North Admiral together. But instead, the NO CHANGE group is tearing apart the neighborhood and its deeply disappointing.

  • starmisswendy February 5, 2009 (6:55 pm)

    The lawn and trees is fine left alone just to enjoy the quiet. No development needed. Especially not if it is true a daycare operator will use the park for a play center.

  • Gina February 5, 2009 (7:42 pm)

    Wouldn’t this be a great spot for a Trader Joe’s?

  • WSMom February 5, 2009 (8:16 pm)

    Yeah, those kids whose moms and dads have to work all day shouldn’t get to enjoy a public park while at daycare. And daycare providers are all rolling in the dough, heaven knows daycare providers are some of the highest paid workers in our country…and for what?? caring for kids! What a waste of energy. (sarcasm on)

    I think Trader Joe’s is a good idea!

  • Disappointed February 5, 2009 (8:37 pm)

    Thank you starmisswendy for responding – I think I get it now. So what you really want is for nobody to use the park. Making a change would actually encourage people to use it and it appears that some of the neah-sayers simply want to have their own private lawn. Here’s a tip: buy a house. You’d get your own yard and wouldn’t have to invite pesky kids over to disrupt your peace and quiet. I hear it’s a great time to buy!

  • Opportunity Knocks February 5, 2009 (9:05 pm)

    If not Trader Joe’s, I vote that the misdemeanor jail facility be pursued! The city people should be invited to speak at the next meeting.

    Just as the Mayor’s “people” tell Highland Park, they’ve got to put that thing somewhere.

    You’ll love the city’s design ideas, I promise.

  • nolongerusingthestreets February 5, 2009 (9:26 pm)

    Dang–I’m super busy these days, but now I’m going to have to find the time to attend a meeting (in support). My kids are already a bit old for this sort of setting, but criminey, come on, what’s better than kids having a great time in a park? It would at least drown out some of the road noise.

  • Thanksforbeingtolerant February 5, 2009 (9:40 pm)

    OK, I have just about had it with the accusations directed at “that person running the daycare center” who only wants to “develop the park” in order to “put in a giant ugly plastic play structure” for only this person’s benefit. This is a load of hogwash and the people posting these ugly rumors know it. God forbid you try to run a small business (as an early childhood educator, mind you!) in the North Admiral neighborhood! God forbid you try to take the kids outside during their preschool class for an appreciation of the natural environment in the surrounding area. Seriously, people! Let’s please shut down this ugly rumor mill right now.

  • Lance February 6, 2009 (9:22 am)

    I was given the packet for the “no change to park” and they make some very valid arguments. Also some of the facts in it seem legit. I’d like to see some actual evidence that this information is false. Seems like there’s a bunch of people so polarized to either side as to not see whats real or not. I’ve already shown my opinion from a cost standpoint but if these “facts” are true, how can this park project even be moving forward? If I were a city parks representative I’d want to investigate both sides and see what really went on. To make a genuine opinion I’d like to know what’s real and what’s made up. Real info folks not just something you heard or whatnot.

  • Tuc Ulo February 6, 2009 (12:42 pm)

    Let’s all have a sandwich board party at California Place! My bord reads “Free Tibet!”
    Love always,
    Tuc Ulo

  • Thanksforbeingtolerant February 6, 2009 (12:48 pm)

    What “facts” specifically are you referring to? What specific evidence would you like to see? What would you exactly like a Parks representative to investigate? Could you please elaborate on these points? Thank you.

  • WSB February 6, 2009 (1:11 pm)

    I’ve never seen said “packet” but have reported on this proposal from the very first time it was mentioned in public (all 20 stories are archived here, newest to oldest:
    Not that I know whether any of our stories address whatever is in said “packet,” but just in case anyone who is late to this issue is interested in reviewing the evolution of the public discussion of the proposal, dating back to last June, I am posting that reminder. Our very first mention was almost exactly 8 months ago, in a brief preview of an Admiral Neighborhood Association meeting, with the direct quote from the agenda as mentioned on the ANA e-mail list:
    and then a report following up on what was said at that meeting
    followed a few weeks later by announcement of the first public meeting on the proposal, including word that the group had applied for the grant which is funding the current “design workshops”
    And our coverage of that public meeting included summaries of what was reviewed regarding possible changes at the park
    And it continues from there.
    Ours is the only news organization to have covered this proposal from the start, so we have the most complete archive, and it’s another resource for anyone interested in fact-finding, since this continues to be such a controversial proposal.
    You can also read exactly what was proposed to the Parks Department at this page – there are two grants for FANNA – the first one is the “Small Sparks” that funded the barbecue last summer, the second one (several entries further down) is regarding the grant that is funding the current “design process.”
    I have 30+ years of journalism experience including fairly decent research skills, so if there is a troubling allegation or claim that anyone would like to see investigated, you’re more than welcome to e-mail me about it (or if you prefer absolute anonymity, our postal mail address is on our Contact page, linked from the tabs beneath our header)

  • Lance February 6, 2009 (1:12 pm)

    There have been more than a few mentions that this packet is false and it is propaganda. I’m not going to go point by point because I don’t want to end up with another paragraph post. If this information is propaganda and is as easy to shoot down as it sounds I’d like to hear or read it. It’s hard these days to actually know what’s true and false without a ton of homework. Has there been anything in print or whatnot that refutes their claims point by point?

  • Lance February 6, 2009 (1:18 pm)

    Thanks WSB for adding those links. I’ll be reading those for sure!! I can send you the packet via email pdf if you haven’t seen it. I did see some things in there that were curious and worth looking into. A non biased point by point comparison and review should put to rest a great deal of alligations and bickering.

  • WSB February 6, 2009 (1:40 pm)

    That would be very helpful. Thank you!

  • Thanksforbeingtolerant February 6, 2009 (2:15 pm)

    I would be very interested in seeing the packet, too. I very much look forward to putting to rest the allegations and bickering. Lance, thanks for sharing the packet w/ WSB. WSB, are you planning on posting the contents of the packet? Please? BTW, thanks for covering this issue in such an in-depth manner. I forgot how I ever got my WS news before the Blog!!

  • Lance February 6, 2009 (2:35 pm)

    sent you the info that I had. With your skills maybe we can get a final answer on what’s what.

    Thanks for taking the time.

  • Lance February 6, 2009 (2:42 pm)

    Also, for people that don’t know or haven’t seen it, there is 7 pages and seems really well thought out and put together. It says No Change for Park on the front, One Blade of Grass overturned is Too Much.

    Some may or may not have seen it. My mom gave it to me the other night to read. Very interesting indeed. could be legit or maybe not. We’ll soon see. If you want a copy I’m sure WSB can forward you the copy I sent. It has not been edited at all. Just scanned it and sent it over.

  • WS pet lover February 8, 2009 (3:22 pm)

    Do you really want little kids playing on California Ave. when we have so many other beautiful parks in our community to go to? Lincoln Park, Alki, school playgrounds, Hiawatha. When my kids werre little I never had trouble finding nice parks for them to play in. I always thought this piece of land belonged to Admiral Congregational Church. Leave it alone!

  • Lance February 9, 2009 (10:41 am)

    I always thought it was the church’s property until this project was started as well. I don’t recall seeing a Ferry park sign or whatnot.

  • Free Lunch February 9, 2009 (12:55 pm)

    A Google search suggests that the creator of this no-change PDF did not post it online. Is this the document that raises the specter of a play structure, even though that idea was put to rest as early as last July? I only ask because SOMETHING must be keeping this rumor alive.

  • WSMom too February 9, 2009 (1:59 pm)

    SOMETHING or SOMEONE is keeping the rumor alive, along with some other “Admiral Urban Legends” such as :
    – This will kill the trees!
    – Vagrants are moving to California Place!
    – Daycare owner is the mastermind of all evils!
    – Big Fot used to live in this very same park and we don’t want to make him mad!
    I know, it sounds ridiculous… Go figure…

  • Free Lunch February 9, 2009 (3:31 pm)

    I encourage eveyone who is still interested in this topic to attend the next meeting, 10:30 am-noon on March 7th at the Alki Community Center [Map]. I know a lot of you are busy, but it’s Saturday morning, so show up instead of sleeping in.
    I’m fairly sure due to how the last one turned out that this next meeting will begin with behavior guidelines, so you shouldn’t have to worry about being booed or heckled for participating.

  • Thanksforbeingtolerant February 9, 2009 (3:40 pm)

    TR, Did you receive that PDF of the “NO CHANGE” packet? If you did, are you thinking of posting it on here? Or maybe you could email it to me? I am interested in viewing the contents of this packet. Thanks!

  • WSB February 9, 2009 (4:52 pm)

    I did. I am trying to research a couple points on it, and also am corresponding with its author re: a few attachments, so hoping to have all that before posting it, for context’s sake. – TR

  • CMT February 9, 2009 (7:41 pm)

    The design phase needs to be attended by anyone with an interest as to how this park will continue to exsist. Every one has a right to express your opinion(s) even if no change is what you desire. After all the park is quite usefully as-is. I attended the meeting and participated in the table discussion. I didn’t find anyone disrupting just expressive, the majority of people attending supported no changes to the small open space park.
    One wonders how or why this process continues when so many are against it.

    Well the process does continue and I’ll be at the next meeting voicing by opinion.

  • Free Lunch February 10, 2009 (12:45 pm)

    Booing over someone who is trying to talk sounds more disruptive than expressive. (There are ways to express one’s self without being mean or rude.) I hope this behavior won’t be tolerated at the next meeting, though if previous participants see no problem to how the last meeting went, I guess we’re in for more of the same.

  • Lance February 10, 2009 (4:01 pm)

    I’d say that saying Boo is maybe disruptive but wouldn’t go so far as to say rude or mean. I’d From what my mother was saying is the pro park initiative folks weren’t all nice and innocent either so I’d just call it even and move on. Both sides I’d say had their poor moments so just drop it and try to be more cooperative. If everyone is calm and constructive and not pointing fingers the next meeting may be productive. This goes for both sides.

Sorry, comment time is over.