Pocket park planned in Gatewood neighborhood, thanks to a donation dating back long before the donor’s death

That Gatewood home is scheduled for demolition – but not to be replaced by new development. You might call it “un-development.”

For the past few months, a small sign in front of it has been the only clue it’s set to become a pocket park, aside from this webpage. Seattle Parks owns it because its owner made a “reserved life estate donation” for that purpose. The sign has long promised an upcoming public meeting for neighbors, and now the date is set – 10 am Saturday, August 16th, at the site known as the Watton property after the donating family, 3823 SW Willow. It’s scheduled for demolition a month later, in mid-September; George Watton, who died last January at age 94, bequeathed the money for that, too. He and wife DeLayne Watton (who died in 2007) had lived there since building the house after he returned from World War II in the late ’40s. After demolition, the city will work on site restoration and turf establishment, and promises it “will work with the contractor to minimize the impact to the neighborhood.”

Long before today’s announcement, we had done some research after getting a tip about the site. Donald Harris with Seattle Parks told us that George Watton had said, dating back to 1992, that he was interested in donating his property to the city after he died. The city won’t accept “just any property,” but this one appealed, Harris explained, because “you can see how it could be this great little overlook for the neighborhood.” Mr. Watton’s health went downhill after he took a fall late last year; he had to leave his beloved home and move in with family in southwestern Washington. According to Harris, they said they wanted to start the process of transferring the site, and there was some hope it might be transformed into a park before he died, but that didn’t work out. Mr. Watton did stay engaged with the planning process for a long time, Parks says. His monetary donation to cover demolition and some park development totaled about $60,000, and because of the special type of account it went into, it grew over time. The demolition won’t be simple, but eventually, Harris said, people will be able to go up onto the site and sit and enjoy it.

19 Replies to "Pocket park planned in Gatewood neighborhood, thanks to a donation dating back long before the donor's death"

  • Paul August 4, 2014 (7:48 pm)

    What a wonderful idea.

  • JayDee August 4, 2014 (7:53 pm)

    I like this type of foresight. I don’t know the property, but if it has a view the public wouldn’t otherwise see, great. I can think of contentious street ends with views and hope it would not progress that way.

  • Case August 4, 2014 (7:57 pm)

    Wow, what an amazing gift!

  • WestSide45 August 4, 2014 (8:06 pm)

    Good for that couple to have the foresight to thwart the developers.

  • Ttt August 4, 2014 (8:22 pm)

    What a great donation. Thank you to the Wattons! Wasn’t Ercolini Park acquired the same way?

  • Maggie August 4, 2014 (9:06 pm)

    Wow! What a generous gift to the community! Reminds me of this quote: “The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.” Nelson Henderson

  • Elle Nell August 4, 2014 (9:17 pm)

    What a wonderful human to give such a beautiful gift…. Every now and then we are reminded of what goodness really is…lovely

  • DB August 4, 2014 (9:19 pm)

    This is a beautiful story. What a wonderful gift to the community.

  • Michelle M August 4, 2014 (9:35 pm)

    What a great husband and wife! A compliment to West Seattle!! A Lifetime gift for West Seattle.

  • Bonnie Wells August 4, 2014 (9:42 pm)

    A beautiful gift to the city!

  • Graham Morgan August 4, 2014 (10:31 pm)

    Great gift and great view. I often walk my dogs through that neighborhood because of the great views which are unobstructed by power lines.

  • westseattledood August 4, 2014 (10:37 pm)

    Nice to be reminded of the uncommonly good in people. Really lovely story.

  • Michal August 4, 2014 (10:44 pm)

    It would be stupendous to connect this future Watton Park with the SW Myrtle Reservoir Park and Hundley Playfield! Unified Street tree platings and route signage?

  • Ben August 4, 2014 (10:48 pm)

    I’d love to see a small plaque at the resulting park that explains the donors’ story – that kind of thoughtful generosity deserves to be remembered, and I can only imagine it will serve to inspire others.

  • zark August 5, 2014 (9:00 am)

    Thats a good one for a kickstarter/crowd fund- raise money for a really cool plaque, to say thanks for a really cool donation, put donor names on bricks or whatnot.

  • Dis August 5, 2014 (12:53 pm)

    Ercolini park was not donated; it was purchased by the city – can’t remember the sales price, but it was not cheap… unlike this Watton property, which was fully donated.

  • dsc August 5, 2014 (2:30 pm)

    this is amazingly cool

  • Michelle R-R August 5, 2014 (9:34 pm)

    Yay! That is a lovely spot, and a lovely gesture. Looking forward to enjoying this little park when it is complete. Thanks for sharing the story!

  • lori August 12, 2014 (4:22 am)

    Yes, what great gesture and gift!! I agree with Ben I hope there is a plague notating the donor’s story once it is all done for the public to enjoy!

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