On festival’s eve, Port of Seattle opens Jack Block Park shoreline

(WSB photos by Patrick Sand)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

A long-closed West Seattle beach is open tonight, awash in colorful paddling boats and gear, and exhibitors’ tents, ready for the first-ever Northwest Paddling Festival this weekend. On the festival’s eve, the Port of Seattle‘s official opening of the once-industrial-pollution-tainted Jack Block Park shoreline was celebrated with, not a ribbon-cutting, but a ribbon-untying:

Among those participating, West Seattle paddlesports advocate Greg Whittaker at left, proprietor of Alki Kayak Tours and Mountain to Sound Outfitters and a driving force behind the festival, with Port of Seattle Commissioner Gael Tarleton to his left – with others including the park’s namesake, longtime commissioner Jack Block (Sr.), who was also one of the speakers before the dedication:

Block, who served on the commission 1974-2001, noted that it was a “20-year project” and that he had said a while back, “I hope I live long enough to see this project dedicated.” So tonight, he said triumphantly, “I made it!”

Port Commissioner Rob Holland noted that it was particularly significant for the shoreline reopening to come during the port’s centennial year. (Some history of the cleanup at the former wood-treating site can be found on this page from the port’s centennial-celebration website.)

Bringing it back to the festival, Whittaker offered words of appreciation for the volunteers who are making it happen, and exulted, “Some of the best manufacturers in the world are here.” So’s a crew from his well-known West Seattle businesses:

On the beach, the ribbon ceremony was followed by the ceremonial arrival of the Blue Heron Canoe:

That’s James Rasmussen of the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition facing the canoe, which was piloted by its skipper Michael (didahalqid) Evans, a Snohomish Tribe member who formally asked permission to come ashore (while noting loudly that three of the youth with him were Duwamish Tribe members, “so they don’t need permission”).

And for those not paddling, there was the sheer joy of being on a beach that’s no longer off-limits:

Yes, it’s safe – EPA reps at the event talked about the capping of the once-polluted areas, and monitoring that shows “it works.”

Here’s our preview of the Northwest Paddling Festival, at Jack Block Park tomorrow and Sunday – drive in from Harbor Avenue SW, east of Salty’s, and follow the signs – it’s a relatively lengthy drive in but there’s parking. There’s an admission fee for workshops, educational events and demos, but you can wander among the exhibitors for free. And don’t miss the views from the park overlook (visiting SBX and all!):

The festival’s official website is here. (And the beach will remain accessible after it’s over.)

8 Replies to "On festival's eve, Port of Seattle opens Jack Block Park shoreline"

  • shed22 June 24, 2011 (9:25 pm)


  • Diane June 24, 2011 (10:09 pm)

    Magnificent!!! kudos to Greg for all his hard work to make this happen; next, the downtown Seattle waterfront

  • Mary Lou Slaughter June 25, 2011 (8:05 am)

    What a joy today to read your article and see all the progress that has been made to the Duwamish River! Kudos to all of you!
    Thank you! And keep up the good work!
    Mary Lou Slaughter
    4th generation Great Granddaughter of Chief Sealth

  • islewrite June 25, 2011 (10:42 am)

    There’s so much going on in WS….this would have passed unnoticed under my radar. Thanks for the coverage of this wonderful new part of our local
    playground, WSB!

  • Miranda Taylor June 27, 2011 (8:50 am)

    Thanks Tracy! I love this park and so nice we can go to the water now. I take all out of town guests for the “tour of the Port.” A more south-southwestern viewpoint of Seattle too.
    Here’s a link for reviews of the park: http://www.yelp.com/biz/jack-block-park-seattle

  • Nancy Mendoza June 29, 2011 (7:02 am)

    Great Photo’s of the celebration and your family Jack. Congratulation on re-opening the park.
    Nancy and the Northwest Burn Foundation Team

  • Nancy Mendoza June 29, 2011 (7:04 am)

    Great photo’s of the festival and your family. Congratulations on the re-opening of Jack Block Park. Nancy

  • Greg Whittaker June 29, 2011 (1:21 pm)

    Thanks for all the community support in pulling this off. It was a great event.

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