3 concepts for 48th/Charlestown park: ‘Dog-friendly,’ ‘community green,’ ‘neighborhood play’

(WSB file photo, future park site at 48th/Charlestown)

Story and photos by Jason Grotelueschen
Reporting for West Seattle Blog

Three design concepts for the future park site on the long-landbanked southwest corner of 48th/Charlestown were presented and discussed at this week’s public meeting at Dakota Place Park.

The concepts, developed based on recent community feedback including an online survey and a February drop-in event, are:

  • Concept design 1: “dog friendly” (a portion of the park is a 2,000 sq ft off-leash dog area)
  • Concept design 2: “community green” (the park’s central feature is an open green area)
  • Concept design 3: “neighborhood play” (part of the park contains playground equipment)

Here is a PDF showing the complete concept details and visuals for each of the three options:

The overall project has a budget of just under $1.3 million from the Seattle Parks District levy. Here’s what happens next (project overview here), according to Ed Pottharst from Seattle Parks: Feedback from the Tuesday meeting will be compiled, along with the results of a new online survey that Parks plans to launch this week (we’ll share the link when we have it), (link added to the story 5/10) and a preferred design concept will be developed. That design will then be presented in early summer at a third and final community meeting, planning/design continues into the fall, bidding during the winter, and construction between spring-fall of 2020.

Meeting notes from Tuesday night:

The meeting began with opening remarks from Pottharst (pictured below at right, in front of the screen) and his Parks colleague Kent Scott (at left, speaking) as well as principal landscape architect Lisa Corry from Cascade Design Collaborative (at center)

Attendees were also welcomed by Molly Magnifico (pictured below, speaking), the recently elected president of the Genesee-Schmitz Neighborhood Council, who spoke about the unique opportunity for neighbors to have a voice in how the park takes shape.

In addition to Corry, Cascade Design Collaborative was represented by landscape architect Cindy Talley (pictured above, at left) and project manager Liz Browning (at right) who is also a longtime West Seattleite and is quite familiar with the 48th/Charlestown space.

Pottharst reiterated that the overall goal is to design and build a new neighborhood park, and to incorporate as much community input as possible. Pottharst is the point-person from Parks for the design process, and Scott will be the project manager for construction next year. When attendees at the meeting were asked “who filled out our previous online survey?” most of the hands in the room went up. Scott said this is a great sign that the process is working to inform the design, which Scott said is crucial particularly because the 48th/Charlestown lot is a “blank slate” that is relatively flat, which allows for lots of possible options to capture “what the park represents for the neighborhood.” Scott provided some examples of what he considers to be successful efforts to do that: Fremont Peak Park (incorporating themes of “minotaur” mythology and cosmological events), and Greenbridge in White Center (with a “global focus” paying homage to other cities worldwide with similarities to Seattle).

Liz Browning then talked more about the goals of the project: “how do we honor the neighborhood and its values?” and “build on West Seattle’s tradition of great parks and great open spaces, and build a park that’s an extension of our own front yard.” The best design would be something that serves multiple purposes as a community destination — a place to “go on a summer evening with kids, or sit and be quiet and read a book.”

Comment from an attendee: She said she lives on the block where the park will be located, and loves the fact that there are “at least 20 kids who live around there,” and her 9-year-old son is able to safely walk around the area with friends and feel safe. She added that her family had helped pass out fliers about the park site, and hopes that those giving feedback on the design options also keep that “kids in the neighborhood” focus in mind.

Browning added some additional information about the site — it sits at a low elevation compared to the neighborhood around it (particularly the hill to the east) and the site itself has a very slight slope. She said there is a code requirement for the project planners to include some bioretention at the site. She added that the team plans to keep and enhance the existing “street trees” (Atlas cedars) at the site. In response to an audience question about how old those Atlas cedars are, the response was “probably 20-30 years old” and that those trees grow fast.

Because the site and surrounding area is Duwamish tribal land, Browning said, the team hopes to reflect that in the park design in some way, with aspects of storytelling, art and/or native plantings. Browning then asked if anybody in the audience knew what used to be at the site (prior to Providence Mount St. Vincent owning it) and several people did — it was a neighborhood grocery store. Browning said that her mother fondly “remembers buying candy at that store” and going to meet the neighbors, and that the project team wants to keep that same community spirit in mind to honor the memory of the space.

Browning showed some slides of the area and said the team has done a lot of site analysis, thinking about factors like sun/shade, utilities, entrances and exits, and so forth. They have a mandate to minimize the amount of “impervious surface” at the park to no more than 15%, which would be less than 2200 sq ft.  Compared to other parks in the area, Browning said, the 48th/Charlestown lot is small and they want to make smart use of the space.

Browning said that the online survey done earlier this year yielded 539 responses, and definitely resulted in some themes that the team could use. The top 5 feature requests: dog amenities, nature play, loop path, community garden, and structured play. The project team took that data, combined it with their own research about the site and the options available to them (as well as factors such as ongoing maintenance), and landed on the three early design concepts that they unveiled at the meeting.  Some additional commentary from the team regarding those designs:

  • Concept design 1: “dog friendly” — The goal is to have a place where you can enjoy the space with your dog and your family, a safe and pleasant environment, to not be overwhelmed by either dogs or by people. There would be an off-leash dog area, about 2000 sq ft in size, separated from the rest of the park by low plantings.  The site itself would be surrounded on the south and west by a natural buffer, with an area of quiet seating and a loop path, allowing dog owners to “hang out and watch their dogs without being in the off-leash area with them.” The idea is to “separate the uses” (dog area and the rest of the park) but allow for plenty of visibility so the park feels whole, “whether you’re a dog person or not.” Browning acknowledged that one of the concerns with this option is whether the off-leash area is large enough to make it worthwhile. Other similar off-leash parks tend to be larger, Browning said, such as Denny Park (4600 sf), Regrade Park (13,600 sf) and of course the massively larger Westcrest Park (366,000 sf, although there is also a smaller area there).
  • Concept design 2: “community green” — This design focuses on multi-use flexible park activities, Browning said, everything from playing games to sitting in the grass. The centerpiece is the green space itself, front and center, serving a classic “town green” purpose. Browning said the lawn could be built with a slight mound to it, with a loop path around the park, and toward the entrance of the park there could be some simple some furnishings and areas to sit. The plan also incorporates a nature path and a natural play area.
  • Concept design 3: “neighborhood play” — Browning said the inspiration here is “a childhood summer day, grass-stained knees, running around with other kids,” focusing on kids’ play but also making the park a place where entire families want to be. Whereas the focus of Ercolini Park is more for providing a play area for younger children, Browning said the idea of this particular 48th/Charlestown design is “probably kids older than 5.” Features include a play area, limited in size because of its impervious surface (because of compaction, even a play surface of softer “chips” is considered impervious, Browning said). The north edge of park could be a garden-focused path area.

Browning and the team said that while Seattle Parks has the ultimate say regarding the final design of the park, the feedback from the community will be crucial to help create the best overall option. A question from the audience: How do we ensure that the responses are from actual neighborhood residents? The answer: We ask for zip code in the survey response, but every response (regardless of home zip code) has the same weight. Another question: Since there isn’t very much parking in the area, and none of the plans contain parking, is this going to be considered a neighborhood park? Answer: Yes, it will.

Browning and the team concluded the presentation and broke into groups for the remainder of the meeting, one group for each of the three design options, and attendees rotated between tables to learn more, discuss details and give feedback:

Each area had large sheets of paper for writing feedback, which neighbors including Deb Barker took advantage of:

Other ideas came up during the discussions, among them the notion of a community garden (“p-patch“) for growing things, preferred by neighbors including Mary Fleck (past president of the Genesee/Schmitz group), who cited strong neighborhood support for the idea. Fleck said similar attempts to do that on the site in the past didn’t work because water wasn’t readily available (neighboring apartments provided it, until that couldn’t happen anymore), but Fleck said the new park would have the necessary utilities to provide water for gardens, and she would love to see it come to fruition.

A questionnaire was passed around for attendees to fill out with their feedback about the design options, along with a reminder to watch for the online survey available soon (expected to be available for two weeks after it’s launched), (link added 5/10) and to send feedback directly to Pottharst (who is the primary project contact at this stage) at Ed.Pottharst@seattle.gov.

38 Replies to "3 concepts for 48th/Charlestown park: 'Dog-friendly,' 'community green,' 'neighborhood play'"

  • Barb May 5, 2019 (7:33 pm)

    It would be nice to have a day time meeting for those who cannot attend evening meetings. 

  • zipda May 5, 2019 (10:53 pm)

    Dog park is a great idea.

    • southadmiral May 6, 2019 (8:26 am)

      It seems way too small a space to be a dog park, if we’re being honest.  This would be around 2000sf, and the current smallest dog park in Seattle is double that?  For a dog park to work there needs to be room for the dogs to run and play–and I just can’t see dog owners taking their pets here instead of, oh, the Madison MS field (and yes, I am well aware that dogs are not allowed at Madison–but that seems irrelevant).

      • Chuck May 6, 2019 (9:44 am)

        Unless you’re racing greyhounds, it’s plenty of room. Sheesh. 

        • southadmiral May 6, 2019 (11:20 am)

          Chuck, I’m really not sure it is plenty of room.  If it’s fine for dog parks to be this small, would the next-smallest be over twice the size?If you look at various organizations that advocate for dog parks, a generally accepted size is at last half an acre (21,000 sf).  I know these guidelines don’t reflect the scarcity of space in cities like Seattle, but thinking that this dog park would be 1/10 the size of what is recommended…  I just think it’s too small.     

        • LK May 6, 2019 (11:26 am)

          It’s plenty of room for a greyhound to run around too…my grey Lula gives this two paws up!

      • Neighborhood Resident May 6, 2019 (10:00 am)

        People should not be using Madison for their dog park. Why are people not getting tickets for this? It is a school and is used for soccer, football, kids play. There is dog poop there all of the time. Can’t wait for it to be turfed so it doesn’t break the kids ankles (turfing is in the budget). The fact there are no dog parks does not make it ok to turn this field into one. Plus when I take the kids there (my kids don’t like dogs) the dogs try to take their balls, run up to them. Not ok. 

        • southadmiral May 6, 2019 (11:22 am)

          I agree.  They should absolutely not be using Madison as a dog park.  And it baffles me why people are never ticketed–  Just send someone around west seattle once a day to ticket cars parked on the wrong side of the street, cars too close to fire hydrants, people with their dogs off-leash, etc., the city would make a LOT of money and people might just start to be better behaved.  End of rant!!

          • WSB May 6, 2019 (11:38 am)

            There was a multi-day dog ticketing emphasis at Madison not that long ago. (We got several emails from people complaining about it.) And parking enforcement officers ARE out in West Seattle every.single.day. We see them, we hear the dispatches. Responding to complaints in addition to proactively patroling. – TR

          • Neighbor May 6, 2019 (5:38 pm)

            It is a plenty fine size for a dog park. Yes, it’s great if it’s bigger for dogs to run in, but people use dog parks for many different reasons, like socialization, off leash play, training in a new setting, etc. I certainly hope it becomes a dog park, at the very least, partially. 

  • aa May 6, 2019 (9:22 am)

    My vote is P-Patch.  There are very few in West Seattle, especially in the north end.  This location has great sun exposure and level ground.  This will increase the beauty of the neighborhood, promote community service, provide pounds of fresh food donations to local agencies when food bank garden beds are included,  it can be a source of education via Seattle Tilth and local elementary schools, and a place for multi-generational relationships to build and work together.Dog park?- dogs get to roam free and go to the bathroom and owners stand around. Not the best choice IMHONeighborhood play- there are a multitude of play opportunities in West Seattle for kids. 

  • annika May 6, 2019 (10:17 am)

    I would much rather have a small dog park than none at all in West Seattle.  Let’s say that we say no to this area for a dog park, due to size, and then the next time an opportunity comes up, people decide that the new spot is too small, so the idea of a dog park is axed again.  And again, and again?  Some of us do not need a large dog park!  Some of us just want a place to toss a ball to our well-behaved dogs.  My dog only needs a small area to be perfectly happy retrieving a ball or socializing with another dog.  If you look at other cities, some have many dog parks of various sizes, including small ones.  Imagine if West Seattle had several small ones to choose from!  Size is not the most important factor here!  Adding dog parks to our neighborhoods is.

    • Q May 6, 2019 (1:30 pm)

      Except this wouldn’t just be for your dog, you’d be sharing any dog park space with dozens of your neighbors dogs as well. If you want a small private place for your well behaved dog to play with a ball, get a house with a yard.

      • Patsy May 7, 2019 (9:13 pm)

        Wow.  This isn’t a very nice comment.  Not everyone can afford a house with a yard.

  • Irene Peters May 6, 2019 (10:43 am)

    I go for the community green.  If it’s a dog park or a playground it leaves me out, and I would never use it.  Thanks.  

  • sgs May 6, 2019 (11:59 am)

    I’m with the “too small of an area for a dog park” folks.  In this size space it won’t take long for the grass to be trampled and for it to turn into a dusty dirt pile.  The neighbors probably wouldn’t appreciate that. 

  • Isee May 6, 2019 (3:17 pm)

    Dog park not needed. Saw LOTS of off leash dogs on the beach at Alki  this past weekend-today too. Dog owners  clearly don’t need any dedicated space.

    • St May 6, 2019 (7:24 pm)

      Lol yeah I have seen dogs on the beach and on playfields (both illegal leash or no leash) for around 25 years.

  • DB May 6, 2019 (3:54 pm)

    The closest dog park to most of West Seattle is Westcrest which is great, but also a commitment to get out to.  Having even a small dog park in the area would be a massive boon; something we could walk the dog to and from without having to load up a car. Missed the previous comment period but hoping there were lots of people in the same boat.

  • JayDee May 6, 2019 (6:52 pm)

    I agree. No dog park just like SGS stated and South Admiral as well. Advocate for a realistically sized dog park but not this one. Otherwise it will be a bare surface of earth because it is too small.

  • Chuck May 6, 2019 (7:25 pm)

    I agree WS needs a dog park. The demand for it is huge …which is exactly why this is the wrong site.  It would be less than half  (40%) the size of the  smallest dog park in the city (which is located downtown, surrounded by high rises) and is bordered by private homes.   Not only would it’s proximity to people’s homes be a burden for the neighbors, the increased traffic and parking would be as well.  Dog owners would drive from north admiral ,Gatewood, etc to bring their dogs here.  This  park is designated as a “neighborhood park” not a regional park. It is intended to benefit the residents of the immediate neighborhood and not be a destination park (there’s no parking).  Again, West Seattle needs a dog park.  I’ve said before that the areas of Lincoln Park bordering Fauntleroy would be ideal.  Nobody uses those lawn areas, there’s parking, and they don’t border private homes.  Sacrificing this tiny lot and neighborhood for a solution that doesn’t address the need would be a shameful waste and unfair. 

  • Ice May 6, 2019 (7:51 pm)

    There is that Amazon dog park by Bezo’s Balls, which is just about 1000 square feet. If this lot were to be turned into a dog park, it would be roughly double the size of that. The design would probably be similar too. Just some food for thought. Political disclosure: I do not own a dog and I live nowhere near this neighborhood. A pea-patch would be optimal usage in my opinion.

    • Mike May 7, 2019 (6:13 am)

      Bezo’s Balls”  ahahahaha

    • Chuck H May 7, 2019 (9:23 am)

      The Amazon dog park downtown is privately owned.  It is a small space catering mostly to Amazon employees who bring their dogs to work and it is surrounded by high rise buildings.  It is essentially a fenced potty-break spot and not designed for actual exercise.  It is also not in the heart of a residential neighborhood (the same can be said for the City’s smallest dog park, Denny Park).   So comparing it to this site is really apples and oranges.   The 48th/Charlestown site is in no way adequate to meet the demand for off leash space in a large area like West Seattle.   As a result the neighborhood is going to be overrun by people driving to the site and the little park itself being overcrowded.   It would be a burden to the surrounding private homes, not an amenity. 

  • Kristina Dahl May 7, 2019 (7:41 am)

    I would LOVE a dog park in West Seattle. I can imagine walking my dog to this park before work, letting him run a bit in the park, and then walking home; if I drive to Westcrest then half of that exercise time is taken up with driving (plus, I have had multiple experiences of feeling unsafe from either dogs or people at Westcrest). Westcrest is one community away from me; this would be in MY community, much more convenient.Sure, I’d love a giant dog park, but in this case a slice of pie is most definitely better than no pie at all. My dog just wants to socialize with other dogs, and I’d love a safe, convenient way to do that.As for those saying “we don’t need it because everyone lets their dogs off leash” I say, with some amusement, don’t you think that we need solutions to that problem? I don’t let my dog off leash so I’m not in that group, but there is nowhere nearby where you can throw your ball and let the dog fetch it (not a leash activity). Having a dog park offers a clear, easy solution to the off leash problem that is so prevalent in West Seattle. This dog park would be really close to Madison, and so perhaps all those off leash Madison folks would move a few blocks over with their dogs to enjoy the new park.Is the dog park a little small? Yes. But still worth it. I’ve been to small dog parks in other towns and the dogs still enjoy them.

    • southadmiral May 7, 2019 (11:49 am)

      Kristina: you make good points.  Maybe it would work out, small though it would be.  I have my reservations about people who currently take their dogs to Madison switching to this (possible) new location; it would be much smaller, so much smaller it’d provide a completely different experience for both dogs and owners.  But you’re right.  A sensible approach to scofflaws is often to find out why they’re doing what they’re doing, and to work on providing decent alternatives.  Drat–this means I’ll have to reconsider my initial dislike of the dog park idea…

    • nf May 7, 2019 (1:50 pm)

      There IS an off-lease park in West Seattle. It’s called Westcrest and is a lovely park. For anyone who wants more, please consider volunteering for, or donating to, Citizens for Off-leash Parks.

    • Chuck H May 7, 2019 (2:01 pm)

      Kristina, the problem is that most people advocating for this as a dog park do not live in this immediate neighborhood.  They live elsewhere in West Seattle (say near California and Brandon ;-)  ).   So they’re not going to be walking back and forth here before work.  They are going to be driving here with their dog, it will be a shorter distance than Westcrest so everyone west of 35th (or even Delridge) will head to this location.   Westcrest off leash area  is 8.4 acres (366,000 sq ft!) AND has parking.  The proposed off leash area for this park is 2000 sq ft.   This park has no parking.  It cannot accommodate the needs of the most populace neighborhood in Seattle (West Seattle) with an off leash area less  than half the size of the smallest one in the city.    Again, this would a tremendous burden on the surrounding neighborhood. For the record.  I am a dog owner.  I live a block away from this site.  I know the need for an off leash area in WS is huge, but this is not the site. 

      • Kristina Dahl May 7, 2019 (5:25 pm)

        As you point out (ummm, what?) I live 1.3 miles from this site. I would absolutely walk there; I usually do a three mile walk with him each morning before work and he gets a second equal walk at the end of the workday, and it would be a great location. It’s near the middle of West Seattle and I think a lot of people would walk there. Westcrest, by comparison, is 4.1 miles from my house and I’m not up for a walk of that length (I love to walk but who has time for an 8.2 mile walk during the work week?!).No matter what kind of park it is people might drive there, of course. The goal of a park is to make it lovely and wonderful so that people want to use the space. Some of those people will drive there – with or without dogs.

  • Chuck H May 7, 2019 (6:20 pm)

    Kristina.  Your earlier comment claimed this was your neighborhood and you’d walk your dog back and forth here daily before work.  You live,…let’s call it the West Seattle Nursery.   I don’t think most of the readers here would agree that 48th/Charlestown is your neighborhood….or that you’d walk back and forth from approximately the WS Nursery to this site daily with your dog (maybe you would, but most wouldn’t from that distance).   No doubt this would be much more convenient for you than driving to Westcrest with your dog; and then you could drive home to your dog park-free neighborhood, but this location is not your neighborhood This is exactly my point …..people from Gatewood to North Admiral would love a dog park (and deserve one that could meet the demand). And those dog owners would drive to it.  Which would be the burden of the surrounding neighborhood at this tiny location.These tiny neighborhood “pocket parks” are specifically mandated to be commuinty low-activity parks for the immediate surrounding  neighborhood.  Think of the parks at California/Beverdige Place,  40th between Alaska & Edmonds, Junction Park at 42nd/Alaska,  Admiral Way50th, and many others  Larger Parks like Hiawatha, Lincoln, Camp Long, Westcrest, Alki, etc are intended to be activity/destination parks ….regional parks to serve a greater area and be driven to  with parking available.

    • southadmiral May 7, 2019 (7:32 pm)

      I am conflicted.  I’m finding myself defending someone who wants a ridiculously small dog park, but, well…  I find the issue of who is or is not in a “neighborhood” to be such a weird issue.  What is a neighborhood, anyway?  And why on earth do you care if someone lives in it or outside of it or really damn far away?  People are people.  If they want to walk through your neighborhood or, lord forbid, engage in the civic amenities therein, who the hell are you to tell them no, sorry, you don’t get access, I don’t want you hear, you clearly live too far away?  That’s absurd!  The specific breed of NIMBYism you are pushing is not novel–would that it were–but it is nonetheless distasteful.  You are actually saying you don’t want people coming to your neighborhood–EVEN if they say they are just walking there!  What?  And as for lack of parking, the silly argument that is the easiest and most leaned upon in these forums…  lack of parking for whom?  For the park goers?  Well then I guess the park won’t be that crowded.  Lack of parking for the residents?  Then gosh.  Maybe they should have garages–shouldn’t 2 parking spaces per residence be required?  Otherwise CARS ON THE STREET!  Head of the hills, everything’s gone pear-shaped!  Sorry.  Long day.

      • Chuck H May 7, 2019 (8:00 pm)

        I certainly didn’t mean to imply all are not welcome at any public park, or in any neighborhood.  I’m a 20+ year West seattleite myself and love our side of this city.    What I meant to say (and likely failed at) was that people advocating for a particularly intrusive amenity in some else’s immediate neighborhood should think it through.  Folks from North Admiral, or Gatewood, or anywhere else can come and enjoy this dog park for an hour and then return to the tranquility of their own immediate neighborhood.   The folks who live immediately around this site are the ones who will live with it seven days a week. 

        • southadmiral May 7, 2019 (8:08 pm)

          Fair point.  As I mentioned–long day.  I basically agree it seems really, really small for a dog park.  But then I don’t currently have a dog (I had the misfortune of marrying a cat-person…) and if dog-owners really are saying it’d be nice to have even such a small spot…  But yes, I understand that the immediate neighbors will live with the space every day–and that too much commotion (aside from the possible issue of lack of street parking) really would change the nature of a neighborhood.  You and I might disagree on how intrusive a small dog park would be, but you certainly have my respect for a decent dialogue on the subject.  G’night all.

  • Norskgirl May 8, 2019 (6:52 pm)

    If a dog park- in the Fall and Winter the it will become a brown, muddy poop pit.  In the Spring and Summer it will become a green poop pit.

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