Update: Unrest at California Place Park design workshop

We’re at Alki Community Center, where more than 100 people have gathered for the first of three design workshops on proposals for possible “improvements” at California Place Park. Members of the audience have repeatedly interrupted landscape architect Karen Kiest, whose firm has the $15,000 contract to lead this stage of the design project (any proposal to actually change the park would require a separate funding process). Kiest reiterated that she’s not a Parks Department representative; some shouting from the audience contended they haven’t had a chance to express their concerns. More later. 7:33 PM UPDATE: The crowd did calm down and Kiest has proceeded with her presentation, which is to be followed with “small group” discussions about possibilities for the park. 9 PM UPDATE: The meeting ended as scheduled as 8:30, after representatives of each “small group” made comments – overwhelmingly against changes to the park. We will write a separate article shortly. No decisions were made tonight, by design (so to speak); two more workshops are scheduled, the next one at 10:30 am on Saturday, March 7.

12 Replies to "Update: Unrest at California Place Park design workshop"

  • Meghan February 3, 2009 (7:25 pm)

    This poor woman. $15,000 is a pittance in the world of professional design fees. For her to have to endure the shouts of a bunch of self-serving, unrealistic citizens who don’t know a thing about design, budgeting, or urban planning must be unbearable.

  • bdb February 3, 2009 (7:32 pm)

    I hope all you Idiots in the crowd yelling at this lady feel real good about yourself. Grow up.

  • KSJ February 3, 2009 (7:56 pm)

    That’s exactly why my husband and I didn’t want to go to that meeting. That’s just sad. The anti-park people have had PLENTY of opportunity to be heard, and that’s not the purpose of this meeting.

    If our anti-park neighbors put as much positive energy into supporting something they believe in as they put negative energy towards this park, just think what they could accomplish!

  • CandrewB February 3, 2009 (8:06 pm)

    Who the hell’s against a park?

  • daldart February 3, 2009 (9:03 pm)

    To call this piece of property a “park” is a joke in itself. It’s a tiny yard. It’s amazing people are getting worked up one way or the other about it.

  • SMSR February 3, 2009 (9:42 pm)

    I thought I lived in a more open-minded neighborhood. I was struck at the meeting that a group of people felt they could control the process by interrupting, yelling and talking over the presentation as if their opinions are more important than others there to listen and abide by the process.

    They all seemed scared of change, when there very clearly was no preliminary design presented. If these people want to be heard, they should join the process instead of trying to override it by yelling.

    Why not improve our public spaces so that everyone (not just a vocal few) can enjoy them? I attended the meeting to get more information about the park, and after hearing people trying to control the process (and the outcome) I am now committed to attending the rest of the meetings to make sure that the vocal few do not hijack the process.

    I firmly believe that “no change” really results in being left behind, because the rest of the world is moving forward.

  • SarahS February 3, 2009 (9:55 pm)

    It was truly disheartening to see so many of my neighbors behaving so rudely.

  • silly February 3, 2009 (10:12 pm)

    I agree there’s no reason to be rude or interrupt. However, I understand the concerns of the “No Change” group, since the FANNA group seems bent on proceeding with a design process that has so far not responded well to those in the community who want no change to the park.

    My personal opposition to the park is that it is a colossal waste of funds at a time when we are closing schools and losing other more valuable human services due to budget crunches. I think the city will ultimately reject any changes that require additional maintenance, not to mention the potential for some of these folks to be chaining themselves to trees out there and further escalating the situation. Not that I really think this would happen, but the potential for it is real and should be addressed and mitigated by the city.

    Although I don’t condone the silly behavior at tonight’s meeting (it was also on both sides…one of the FANNA supporters called a No-change supporter a B-word right in front of us), I think the project manager and neighborhood department has done a HORRIBLE job of managing this process. How on earth did it get to this point??? What are they going to do to deescalate the situation so that the community can begin coalescing around a common idea? The woman running tonight’s workshop certainly didn’t take the conciliatory tone one would expect in such a tense situation.

  • denny February 3, 2009 (10:14 pm)

    sounds like the goat was better behaved

  • The Velvet Bulldog February 3, 2009 (10:15 pm)

    Karen Kiest is a fantastic landscape architect whom I know professionally through architectural firms I’ve worked with. Let her do her job–the results will be great.

  • davette February 3, 2009 (11:46 pm)

    I wasn’t at the meeting, but as a neighbor of the park, feel strongly that leaving the park as is, an open space, is my vote. it isn’t about being “against a park”, it’s about being FOR open spaces. I go out of my way to drive past that park in the fall. The beauty, simplicity and serenity should not be disturbed. There is play equipment at Hiawatha, Alki and the elementary school, why put money into a new park???How about using that money to fix the ruts in the local soccer fields.

  • RN February 4, 2009 (1:00 am)

    I too was saddened to see that there were rude people in North Admiral- my wonderful neighborhood! But our table was quite productive- I thought it was a good process and it made everyone think about what was important to them in a park. Like- is there a place to sit or gather in the current “park”? Almost no one at our table even knew it was a park space before this project gave it visability. It may be used, but it certainly is underused. It would be such a great destination for kids to ride their bikes or walk to, to roll a wheelchair to from one of the many surrounding assisted living facilities, and to interact with neighbors without harming the current aesthetics. No plastic, no trees cut- those are givens and we are all agreed with that. But a neighborhood place to sit in N. Admiral and something for kids to do. Perhaps build up the area backing to the church (the property line goes all the way back to the church wall!) and add some kid-friendly natural elements away from the street. Lots of good ideas. One thing that didn’t get enough attention is that grass IS high maintenance. Regular mowing is a big source of pollution in cities. Keeping our park mostly in grass seemed to be popular, but adding native drought tolerant plantings creates visual interest, reduces maintenance, and helps our city become more green. As to the people that seem surprised about the project, I was told this is the 7th community meeting for this park. Let’s keep the process going.

Sorry, comment time is over.