Back in May, when reader questions led us to ask Seattle Parks about the almost-viewlessness of some viewpoints like Admiral Way, they told us they were “pausing any view trimming while we review and update our viewpoint and tree trimming policies.” That process is happening now, and the city’s advisory Board of Park Commissioners got a briefing at its meeting this past week:
It’s the last big topic of the meeting, 1 hour and 33 minutes into the video (which you also can watch on the Seattle Channel website if the embedded version above doesn’t work for you). The briefing was presented by Parks’ Kathy Nyland and Jon Jainga, who brought along this document explaining where things are at:
They explained that a Viewpoint Advisory Team has been convened and has already met twice. It’s focusing on the 16 officially designated-by-the-city viewpoints (five of which are in West Seattle – Admiral Way [Belvedere], Charles Richey, Emma Schmitz, Hamilton, Rotary), though a fair amount of discussion at the meeting kept sidetracking to issues such as how to get other parks treated as viewpoints. But Parks can barely take care of what they already have: “We’ve got a maintenance problem and a capacity problem,” said Nyland. She and Jainga explained that not only does Parks have too few maintenance crew members for the 280,000 trees in the system, the work at some steeply sloped parks is too dangerous and requires hiring specially trained tree experts. Plus, they added, rules and practices have changed, and even if they had enough staff, they couldn’t do some of what used to be OK for maintaining views (tree-topping was mentioned). So they’re talking about what they can do, and where. Maybe figure out ways to have environmentally sustainable and not-labor-intensive landscaping in some areas, Jainga suggested, noting that Seattle is now a Bee City and a Bird City, among other things.
Interim Parks Superintendent Christopher Williams elaborated on the cost issue, saying Parks has to make decisions such as, maintain viewpoints or maintain ballfields? Money also factors into those considerations, he said, because organizations pay to use fields, while “views are free.”
The briefing document says Parks is considering using four viewpoints as “pilot” sites to try out whatever they come up with, adding, “This will allow us to ‘course correct’ as necessary before implementation across all designations.” The proposed “pilot” list includes Admiral Way and Hamilton Viewpoints.
WHAT’S NEXT: The Viewpoint Advisory Team is meeting again on October 10th and 24th (6 pm at Parks HQ downtown, open to the public) and after that is expected to return to the Parks Board with a final report and recommendations.