New sport court after Lowman Beach seawall removal? See the concepts

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Once the Lowman Beach Park seawall and tennis court are removed, will a new sport court be installed elsewhere in the park?

More than 50 people attended last night’s online community meeting, the next step in the process. They saw four “concepts” – a full-size court that could accommodate tennis and more, two versions of a “medium-size” court, and a court-less option with “amenities.”

The community group advocating for a new court, the Seattle Sports Complex Foundation, obtained a city grant for planning and schematic design, but funding would have to be found beyond that to actually install something. With that in mind, the project team – led by HBB Landscape Architecture – is on track to complete a schematic design by year’s end.

For the meeting, on hand from the project team were Aaron Luoma and Rachel Dotson from HBB, as well as Pamela Kliment from Parks and Lisa Uemoto from the Department of Neighborhoods.

Luoma recapped the plan that’s leading to the removal of the existing tennis court – the removal of the failing seawall and transform the area into something more natural, with an expanded beach and daylighted Pelly Creek. It’s going out to bid soon. With that and other existing features including underground utilities led to the designation of an “opportunity area” in the southeast part of the park for this potential project.

SURVEY: 322 responses were received, which Luoma said was a lot for this kind of project. Here’s the breakout.

More than half voiced support for a new sport court, while about 20 percent felt it was not important, or said they would rather keep that area the way it is.

Here’s how respondents valued the park’s existing features:

He recapped the potential types of courts on which they sought feedback. -tennis/pickleball combined came in first.

In the survey question about other possible amenities, benches led the way:

CONCEPTS: First, a full-size multi-sport court:

This would require relocating the swings to the daylighted creek. All concepts would call for stairs from the sidewalk down into the park. It would have fencing on two sides and low retaining walls. Possible drawbacks include partial blocking of views and the fact that part of the court would be under one of the big trees, as shown here:

They believe the tree would not be hurt, but that would mean “leafy debris” on the court part of the year.

Concept 2 had 2 version. First, 2A – it would be a “medium-size court,” sized for pickleball but also able to accommodate “other striped games” like foursquare. No fencing would be needed, and this one wouldn’t encroach on the current swing-set site or the trees.

Here’s a west-facing look:

Concept 2B: The same as above, but minus swings.

Concept 3: No court. The park basically as it is now, plus possibly benches, a bike rack, picnic tables:

Next step, another survey! More on that shortly, but first.

COMMENTS/Q&A: How do tennis and pickleball share the court? The full-size court could hold four pickleball courts.

As asked at the previous meeting, someone wondered, why is there no restroom? Parks evaluates the needs, Luoma replied.

Another attendee wanted to know more about the possible retaining walls. Luoma pointed out that the existing swings are set below grade; they’re looking at balancing out the area and leveling it if a court is installed. The “small retaining wall” would be around the entire perimeter of the court.

Are court lights an option? No.

What about the lawn going dry in the summer? No irrigation there, as far as Kliment knows.

What about a water fountain? Those are “really expensive,” Kliment explained.

Has an arborist reviewed the situation with the full-size court encroaching on the biggest legacy tree? Luoma said HBB has an arborist, and they did go out and do surveys and measuring. “It is a delicate matter, but not infeasible … by balancing the cut at the base of the tree …” they “might hit some roots” but trees are “very adaptable,” he said, especially London Planetrees, which is what this is.

What about impact to wildlife, like nesting shorebirds? “That is something we’d have to look at more closely,” said Luoma. He noted that there’s information from the seawall-removing plan that could be used for a closer look.

WHAT’S NEXT: Comments will be taken into consideration as the schematic design is finalized by year’s end. If you missed the meeting, no worries – a new survey is now open for your thoughts:

Click here for the direct link.

Once the schematic design is done, it will be presented to the community; watch the project page for updates. What happens after that depends on what kind of funding would be needed and how it would be sought – nothing is in the department budget at this point.

10 Replies to "New sport court after Lowman Beach seawall removal? See the concepts"

  • alki_2008 October 20, 2020 (1:29 pm)

    Based on the survey, 73.5% of respondents said that a new racket court was important or very important. That’s a pretty sizable majority.

    Wonder why they didn’t create a concept of having the medium-size courts (like 2A/2B) and having swings on the other side of a path (like 1). Seems odd to put swing area right next to the court (2A). Maybe because of cost for two areas?

    • Jon Wright October 20, 2020 (4:43 pm)

      Yes, 73.5% of the people who knew about this survey and cared enough to complete it.

  • Cogburn October 20, 2020 (2:11 pm)

    Put the money on the bridge

  • Dunno October 20, 2020 (6:15 pm)

    Full size for more exercise!!  We need stress relief while waiting for a decision over the decisions regarding the West Seattle bridge.    Pickle ball, tennis , and other court games are something most ages can do and gain all kind of benefits from.    Cardio, movement, stretching, running, walking, moving, and breathing just to name a few in fresh air from the sound.   The courts above on Fauntleroy are next to a very busy road.  Often ferry traffic backed up to there and beyond.   Honking, exhaust, smell of canola oil from the food truck, pot smoke from the hill side and surrounding area, and the portable toilet from he##.   You never know what you’ll find inside including people sleeping inside!

    • LAH October 21, 2020 (9:18 am)

      Dunno,I’ve lived next to the Solstice tennis courts for 11 years.  Listening to tennis players, yell, cuss, grunt and the slam of the ball against the solo wall from 8am to 10pm is not enjoyable and I haven’t even mentioned the glare of the court lights late at night.  Its all perspective – living in a city bothers me just like it bothers you.  

  • Elise October 20, 2020 (10:40 pm)

    I love the idea of Pickle ball courts. Tired of playing Pickle ball on tennis courts.

  • M October 21, 2020 (4:48 pm)

    Why are we not utilizing the courts that are overgrown IN Lincoln Park?  They are currently being used to house large equipment and piles of bark/rocks.  On the other side are super overgrown horseshoe courts, which nobody can use. Why not work/build the courts there?  They would be right near the bathrooms, water fountain, and the larger north parking lot.This new plan:  there will be no bathroom, water fountains — and the parking is already at a premium.I find it discouraging the survey went out BEFORE the plans, so at this point, it is just moving forward.  Of course, it sounds like a good idea.  So does a small watercraft landing — that would be perfect!  Did nobody notice the high numbers of people out in the water this summer, pandemic or not, I’m pretty sure the # of paddleboarders, windsurfers, and small boats will HIGHLY OUT NUMBER the people who will be using the courts going forward.  Why are we digging up green grass, and space for many to enjoy by putting more concrete down?We don’t live in CA.  It’s literally going to freeze this weekend.  Really, you’re telling me people are going to use these AT LEAST 8 months out of the year?  Give me a break.Why not turn one of the courts up by the gas station into a pickleball court?Full transparency:  I play both.  I like pickle and tennis but under no circumstances so I agree this is the best use of space.  Is there a way to get or start a vote to stop it?

  • Dunno October 21, 2020 (6:07 pm)

    Lah ,Sorry about my fellow tennis players.   You should come join us!   I’m against everything you mentioned.   If any of you want to play tennis, almost everyday of the week you’ll find us at Solstice park in the morning’s, willing to help you start or continue playing tennis.   To my fellow pickle ballers, as I get older, the more I get closer to joining more you more often.  What a great opportunity to get quality courts to play on.   I support anything there except dogs running and pooping like the courts at Solstice and porta potties from purgatory!!!!

  • El' Jefe October 22, 2020 (7:12 am)

    The pickle ballers up on the hill are intense. Your group are dedicated, give it to them. I play neither but having studied Recreation Mgt I have to say give it the greatest users. I hope there are some ADA considerations. A nice paved lookout would be nice. My kids like the swings. Don’t need another play structure. 

  • Dunno October 22, 2020 (2:26 pm)

    M, instead of fighting us, why not come join us for either.   You’re more than welcome.   Meanwhile there plenty of space for all at Lowman.  If nothing else, I agree with El.  There used to be tennis courts  in the park at the very location M is talking about.  Not going to happen there.  Meanwhile Solstice is heavily used on the weekend.  Afternoons are packed.   Walt Hundly(high point) is always busy with tennis or pickle ball. 

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