Story and photos by Jason Grotelueschen
Reporting for West Seattle Blog
Neighbors gathered on Monday night to hear about plans for renovations to the Cottage Grove Park playground (aka Puget Boulevard Commons Park), and to give feedback on the design ideas.
The public meeting, held at the Delridge Community Center, was facilitated by project manager Pam Kliment and landscape architect David Bader from Seattle Parks.
The overall goal for the renovation of the park, located at 5206 26th Ave. SW, is to make the play area more usable for younger children by replacing some of the play equipment and reusing other pieces. The project was chosen by the public as part of the Your Voice, Your Choice program in partnership with the Department of Neighborhoods, Department of Transportation, and Seattle Parks. The design phase is happening now through the end of the year, with the renovation likely complete in late spring 2020.
Preliminary designs are located here. Bader described them as “very much a draft,” with lots of room for input and changes.
Kliment said the team had consistently heard feedback that the existing park is “unfun,” with play equipment too advanced for the younger children who visit the park most frequently. Bader agreed, describing some of the existing equipment as expert-level, not a great fit and too “American Ninja Warrior” for small kids. The renovation budget is $90,000, which Kliment and Bader said isn’t a lot of money when dealing with high-quality play equipment that needs to last 20 years, but they plan to use public feedback to help create the best possible space with the most “play value.”
Some of the ideas that Bader highlighted:
- Install a more traditional play structure, more functional for little kids
- More slides, platforms, stairs, bridges
- More accessibility, with a play area that can be entered from multiple points (the current structure isn’t accessible, Bader said)
- Replacing the “IKEA toy” that is currently there
- A merry-go-round, good for older and younger kids alike
- Could maybe install some chimes or musical equipment up by the plaza area
- Possibly keep some of the older equipment by the edges of the park, like the swing and climbing wall and seesaw.
- The current design doesn’t include monkey bars, but Bader said they’ll likely add them because of feedback they’ve heard, including one young participant at the Monday meeting whose comment was the first one to be written on the brainstorming list:
Bader then opened up the meeting for public comment, asking “are we in the right lane?” Participants generally agreed with the direction, calling it a “huge improvement.” Comments and questions below:
- Q: What about swings? A: Probably not because swings take up a huge amount of space. Several in attendance agreed that there are serious issues with the current swings at the park, saying “there’s no swing action” and “kids fall out of them all the time.”
- Comment: I like that you’re keeping the rock wall, my daughter uses it for preschool, the classes measure their skill based on how high they can climb. A: We agree that it’s nice to have one more challenging play element, and the rock wall seems like the best candidate. We felt like removing it would not be a popular move. One young participant agreed that he liked the rock wall but said the “top part is too hard.” (it goes diagonally backwards)
- Comments: The plaza area gets a lot of use, some parts are scuffed up and black from skateboarders. But it’s nice for kids to be able to run and bike around the area.
- Comments regarding the musical/chime idea: Sounds good, and there’s already an area of the park in the middle at the top that has an “echo” that kids like. But what about the houses nearby, will the noise be too bothersome? Bader said that generally people who live next to parks are accustomed to it.
- Bader noted that the printouts showing the possible color of the playground equipment was brighter than what the colors would likely be, but noted that they have a lot of color choices when ordering equipment. Kliment admitted that she “loves bright colors,” and other attendees agreed, but with some questions about whether the colors would age well or would show imperfections more over time.
- Kliment said that based on feedback, it sounds like the current “rocker” equipment and swings aren’t safe, and asked the audience “if they’re removed and not replaced, would people object?” The consensus was “no,” with one attendee adding that parts of the swing have been stolen in the past.
- Q: Will the current woodchip surface stay? A: Yes, at least for now, it’s economical and is a safe option. We do top them off often, because they tend to degrade and blow in the wind.
- Q: Based on these designs, is the $90K budget maxed out? A: Yes, it’s close, we could probably push a little more, but we do like to leave some buffer for unknown expenses. We could possibly add some pieces but have costs associated with demolishing existing equipment, buying new equipment, then installing it, so in that sense $90k doesn’t go that far. Some attendees noted that rideable “spring” toys like a jeep or horse are popular at other sites like Highland Park.
- Q: On the proposed play structure, is there a way to climb? A: Yes there’s a tube to climb up, stairs, ladder, and a climbing rock; 4-5 different ways to get onto the structure.
- Q: What about a simple ground-level toy like a steering wheel? A: That’s a good idea, maybe in a covered/shaded area, those types of little movable pieces are nice to have for kids who are younger or have limited mobility.
- Comment: The merry-go-round looks great. Bader noted that you can spin it from middle or push it from the outside, and that “they’re a crowd favorite.”
- Bader summarized some of the key things he’s been hearing: The merry-go-round is popular, bright colors are good, physical tactical hand toys and monkey bars and rideable spring toys are desirable, there are issues with the park’s existing swings (one of the two is quite a hazard. When the audience was asked for their preferred prioritization if it came down to “music toys up on the plaza” or “replacing the existing ‘rocker’ toy,” attendees agreed that replacing the rocker with a safer toy should definitely be the priority.
- Q: What about the bushes on the side of playground? It’s basically a ditch, family members have found needles there, kids run in the area but it’s really not safe particularly with the short sharp bushes. A: We have a crew with a maintenance hotline to respond to calls about things like this, and they typically clean stuff up right away. One attendee agreed that those crews have done great work across the street, to cut bushes and made it safer and much nicer.
- Comment: One mom said her kids couldn’t attend tonight, but their feedback was simple: “we want to climb and slide!”
Next steps: Kliment said Bader will make adjustments to the plans based on feedback, as part of the design phase. She said the team is willing to come out again for another meeting, but asked attendees if communicating the new plans and continuing the conversation via email and online would be more efficient, and those in attendance agreed that it would be. Bader said that once the designs are finalized, equipment will be ordered and installed.
Have your own feedback, ideas and questions about the project? Send them to Pam Kliment at firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-684-7556, and they’ll be compiled as part of the current design phase.