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:
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.