West Seattle, Washington
Another reader report with an alert for parkgoers – this time from Rosalie Miller, whose park visits often have yielded photos featured on WSB. This time, her photo serves as a warning:
East entrance off 49th near Schmitz Park Elementary. It’s a large pothole. More cracks in the trail on both sides of the hole. This has been reported on Find It Fix It app.
We’ll check with Parks tomorrow to see if they’ve addressed it yet. The forested park has had hole trouble in the past; back in April, we reported on the rescue of a 4-year-old from a “mud hole” at the park.
10:12 AM: As previewed last night, Mayor Bruce Harrell has just announced his nominee for Seattle Parks and Recreation superintendent: Anthony-Paul “AP” Diaz, currently executive officer for the parks department in Los Angeles. That’s his second major appointment from L.A., after recently confirmed SDOT director Greg Spotts. The announcement is still under way on the Seattle Channel. Here’s the bio page for Diaz on the L.A. city webpage. According to his bio, Diaz has been with the City of Los Angeles for more than 20 years and served as the L.A. parks department’s general counsel before taking on the executive officer role.
10:30 AM: During the announcement event at Yesler Terrace Park, Diaz said he considers parks to be “essential infrastructure.” He also offered a new phrase “Seattle Shine” that the mayor jovially said he’ll adopt, and said he often likes to say, “Parks make life better.” Councilmember Andrew Lewis, who heads the council committee that oversees parks, said Diaz is someone capable of working with community as well as the council toward parks being a “focal point … the true gems of our community.” Diaz succeeds Christopher Williams, who is now completing his third turn as acting superintendent and spoke briefly during today’s event too.
1:45 PM: Here’s the official news release. It doesn’t mention what the job pays, so we are asking that on followup. …Update: $252,000.
Another of the few major high-level vacancies remaining in Mayor Bruce Harrell‘s administration is about to be filled. Tomorrow (Thursday, September 29th), the mayor will announce his nominee for Seattle Parks and Recreation Superintendent. Former West Seattleite Christopher Williams has been serving – for the third time – as acting superintendent, since the (second) departure of Jesús Aguirre at the start of Harrell’s term. The announcement is planned at 10 am tomorrow and will be livestreamed via Seattle Channel.
At today’s celebration of the shoreline-restoration project at Lowman Beach Park, Duwamish Tribe member Ken Workman shared the area’s historic name: gWal, or “capsize.” That certainly was once a risk for the at-times-controversial project, which took years of building public support and seeking grant funding to become reality. The project was originally centered on removing the crumbling north seawall at Lowman, but expanded to removing its beloved waterfront tennis court and daylighting the end of Pelly Creek.
The creek end won’t really come into its own until the fall/winter rains. But the expanded shore that replaced all but a small northern stub of seawall has been a joy for park visitors since the project’s completion earlier this summer:
Before this morning’s ribboncutting, there were speeches, emceed by Deb Barker, president of the Morgan Community Association, which hosted many community discussions about Lowman – as she observed, “This kind of project isn’t supposed to happen,” and yet it beat the odds:
Other speakers in our video were Workman, deputy mayor Greg Wong, who marveled at Lowman’s natural beauty, longtime acting Parks superintendent (and former West Seattleite) Christopher Williams, and Kathryn Gardow, representing the state agency that provided some of the funding. They were all joined in the ribbon-cutting by two local students, Ken from Explorer West Middle School (WSB sponsor) and Ezra from Gatewood Elementary. The celebration also featured The Whale Trail – Lowman is a great spot for shore-based whale-watching – and Alki Kayak Tours/Mountain to Sound Outfitters (WSB sponsor) with stand-up paddleboarding demos. Williams also acknowledged the community:
Not only did nearby residents endure months of work on this project, but as Williams observed, they also had been through years of work on King County’s Murray Wet Weather Facility across the street (dedicated in 2017). His acknowledgment also included the Parks managers who made the project happen – David Graves shepherded it for years, including seeking grants:
And Janice Liang managed the project through its construction:
P.S. Looking into our archives for this story, we found this 2010 WSB clip with a 360-degree view of what Lowman Beach Park used to look like (not only before this project, but before the overflow facility across the street, which replaced a block of residences).
(WSB photo, this morning)
We’ve had a few-details mention of this in the WSB West Seattle Event Calendar for a while but now the city has just sent the full announcement:
Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) and the Morgan Junction Community Association invite the community to celebrate the renovation of Lowman Beach Park! Please join us on Saturday, September 24, 2022 from 10 a.m. to noon at 7017 Beach Dr. SW. The morning will be fun and filled with opportunities to learn more about the beach restoration and the animals that depend on it.
During the event, Seattle Parks and Recreation Environmental Education Team and the Seattle Aquarium will have naturalists on site to help the community explore the beach. Additional activities include stand-up paddle boards and tips for successful paddling from Alki Kayak Tours and an opportunity to learn from Whale Trail volunteers about the trail and the marine mammals that live along the trail. The celebration will offer an opportunity to meet your neighbors, explore the new beach, enjoy refreshments and West Seattle’s Original Bakery donuts.
This shoreline restoration project work began when the south half of the seawall failed in the mid-1990s. This recent project removed the remainder of the seawall and created an approximately 7000 sq. ft unobstructed shoreline benefitting the natural environment, the park and the visitors who can access the beach in a much easier way. The remnant of Pelly Creek that previously flowed under the seawall was daylighted as part of the project. The completion of this project now offers a shoreline park with a swing set, an open lawn area and a gradual transition a vegetated upland habitat to the nearshore habitat which together restore ecological functions, habitat connections, and allow the beach to develop and move more naturally.
SPR awarded the construction contract to Mike McClung Construction and work began in the fall of 2021. Construction was funded in part with grants from the State of Washington through the Aquatic Lands Enhancement Account and the King County Flood Control District through the Cooperative Watershed Management fund.
The project fences came down, fully reopening the park to the public, in late June.
2:19 PM: Thanks for the tips and photos. The closed/fenced-off play structure at Alki Playground has been removed. Seattle Parks had said they’d do that before the start of the school year; the educators’ strike apparently bought them some extra time. The play structure was taken out of service in early August; Parks told us afterward that a “safety inspection revealed a major structural issue with the wood decking.” At the time, they hadn’t decided what would happen once it was removed – whether it would be replaced before Alki Elementary closed next year for its rebuild – so we have an inquiry out to see if that decision’s been made yet, and will update when we hear back.
3:08 PM: Parks spokesperson Karen O’Connor says, “We are coordinating with Seattle Public Schools for the play area to be renovated and the structures replaced during the school rebuild between 2023-2025. We will not be replacing the play structures that are being removed before the new school is rebuilt. Some of the play equipment will remain and is not being removed.”
After logistics challenges, Seattle Public Schools has moved student meal pickup during the Seattle Education Association strike to city facilities, starting Monday. Here are the West Seattle locations:
Alki Community Center – 5817 SW Stevens
E.C. Hughes Playground – 2805 SW Holden
Hiawatha Playfield – 2700 California Ave SW
High Point Community Center – 6920 34th Ave SW
Highland Park Playground – 1100 SW Cloverdale
Puget Ridge Playground – 6029 21st Ave. SW
Roxhill Park – 2850 SW Roxbury
Southwest Teen Life Center / Pool – 2801 SW Thistle
The meal-pickup hours are the same as they were at campuses last week, 10 am-1 pm. While the SPS culinary-services team is preparing lunches, the city announcement says, community volunteers will be assisting with distribution.
P.S. Tomorrow is also when the city will start opening some drop-in “recreation activity hubs,” including Alki and High Point Community Centers.
Summer’s not over yet! Another chance to enjoy music in a local park is happening one week from today.
That’s local folk musician Thaddeus Spae, who’ll be performing at Puget Ridge Edible Park next Saturday (September 10th). Got the announcement today from Stu Hennessey on behalf of the PREP crew. It’s a celebration of the harvest season at this local park devoted to growing food. All are welcome – to listen, dance, and/or just walk through the PREP gardens – starting at 3 pm nextSaturday, 5265 18th SW.
Six years have passed since that juvenile humpback whale stranded and died by the Fauntleroy ferry dock. It’s something we’ll never forget seeing – and hearing, as the 39-foot-long whale took her last breaths while people tried to save her. Later this month, the whale will be teaching posthumous lessons as part of a “walkshop” in nearby Lincoln Park. We received the announcement today from the Henry Art Museum, which invites you to the September 24th event “Care for the Stranded“ as part of its “Learning Endings” series:
On August 7, 2016, a juvenile humpback whale died on the beach just south of Fauntleroy Ferry Terminal in West Seattle. This animal was one of hundreds of marine mammals that strand every year on the northwest coast of the Pacific. These ocean-dwelling animals are mostly hidden from humans during their lifetimes, but in a stranding death, they reveal themselves to us, and call on us to care. This care can take many forms — from traditional ceremony, to scientific necropsy, to community vigil. Join Learning Endings collaborators for a forest and shoreline walk of storytelling, conversation, participation, and performance as we collectively consider what the death of the Fauntleroy humpback can teach us about the lives of these animals, those who care for them, and the entangled futures of humans and oceans.
Care for the Stranded is part of Learning Endings, a multi-part project by artists and researchers Patty Chang, Astrida Neimanis, and Aleksija Neimanis. Through a series of events, gatherings, research, and discussions, Learning Endings brings together local communities, scientists, artists, and humanities researchers to consider ecologies of care in a time of endings, with a focus on stranded marine mammals. For this Shoreline Walkshop, the Learning Endings collaborators will be joined by regional knowledge keepers Ken Workman, member of the Duwamish Tribal Council, and research biologist Jessie Huggins, as well as Canadian-based audio artist Anne Bourne.
Participants will meet at 9:30 am Saturday, September 24th, by the north parking lot of Lincoln Park (8011 Fauntleroy Way SW), and will be together for about three hours. There is no fee, but you need to register here (look for the “tickets” link). The Fauntleroy humpback was one of three whale strandings we covered on local shores last decade, along with a gray whale in The Arroyos in April 2010 and a fin whale at Seahurst Park in April 2013.
Last month, we reported on a Seattle Parks briefing at a City Council committee meeting, proposing increased spending to keep the parks’ “comfort stations” (freestanding restroom buildings) up and running, Arson and other vandalism were listed as costing at least half a million in repairs each year. Today a local park is the latest one affected – Parks says the EC Hughes Playground (2805 SW Holden) comfort station was damaged by fire and will be closed until work can be completed next year. A portable restroom has been placed at the park in the meantime. We don’t know when the fire happened – there’s no SFD call logged there this week – so we have a followup question out to Parks.
2:59 PM: In that briefing this morning at Rainier Playfield, Mayor Bruce Harrell went public with his proposal for what the Seattle Park District should pay for in the next six years. The $115 million/year plan would include funding to finish the three West Seattle “landbanked” parks that were shelved during the pandemic – 40th SW in The Junction, Morgan Junction Park Addition, and 48th/Charlestown – during the funding cycle (2023-2028 – we’re asking for estimated dates for those projects). Other key points include an exponential increase in Park Rangers – there are two now, and this plan would fund 26. Other safety-related proposals include a rapid-response team tackling graffiti and vandalism and expanding leash-law and scoop-law enforcement to 7 days a week. An expansion of community-center hours is promised, too. Here’s a ‘fact sheet” circulated today; beyond that, we asked for the line-by-line specifics and were told they’ll be sent by the mayor to the Park District Board (the City Council) next week, followed by a briefing on how they differ from the recommendations on which they’re based. So how much would it cost you? $331 a year for the “median value homeowner,” according to the mayor’s announcement. That’s more than double what you’re paying right now for Park District funding, which covers about a third of the Parks and Recreation budget – $154 this year for the “median value homeowner.” This does not go to voters, who approved the Park District’s creation and taxing authority years ago; approval is up to councilmembers.
3:36 PM: Since we published this, an agenda has arrived for a public hearing the Park District Board (council) is having on this proposal next Wednesday. It’s happening in Northgate but the agenda explains how to send written comments too.
Thanks for the tips. A few people mentioned those No Parking signs in the north Lincoln Park lot and across the street, along the east side of Fauntleroy Way. The restrictions are for 5 am to 9 pm Saturday; the info sheet attached to some of the signage attributes this to Object & Animal, a production company whose website shows a lot of high-profile commercial and music-video work. We don’t know yet what the project is, but just be aware that Lincoln Park will be more parking-challenged than usual on Saturday.
We’ve talked before about Seattle Parks‘ recent maintenance woes – including this report from the Alki Community Council‘s June meeting.This afternoon, Parks managers told the City Council’s Public Assets and Homelessness Committee that they’ve been catching up via what they call a “maintenance surge.” That was the first of two Parks presentations to the committee, and you can watch starting at 48 minutes into the video recording of the meeting:
Their priorities so far have been mowing, comfort-station (standalone restroom building) maintenance, graffiti removal, and trash pickup. Staffing was a major reason they got behind, Parks reps told councilmembers, but other challenges hindered their work too – like 21 rainy days in May and 19 rainy days in June. They couldn’t do anything about the weather but they have been working on hiring, starting the year with 80+ job openings in the division responsible for maintenance, filling 50 of those positions by July, and expecting to fill another 10 this month. In the first month of the “surge,” for example, they spent 688 hours on graffiti removal, almost 50 percent more than the same month last year. In the same month, they picked up 330 tons of trash in parks, up from 270 tons a year earlier. As they catch up in these areas, the next tier of priorities includes cleaning up sport courts. Here’s the slide deck with all the numbers they shared.
After that, Parks managers segued into their second presentation, about the 129 “comfort stations” around the system. Unlike the maintenance presentation, this one had a bottom line – the department is looking for more Parks District funding to accelerate replacements and cover repairs required by damage. Right now, comfort stations get replaced in an average of every 42 years; if the current $1.6 million annual budget is increased to $2.8 million, that could drop to every 34 years. The added funding recommendation also includes half a million dollars to cover arson and vandalism. Between that and maintenance/repair needs, they respond to about 1,400 work orders a year, councilmembers were told. The average comfort-station rebuild costs $540,000, Parks said. (The one that opened late last year at 57th/Alki cost $638,000 to build.) Asked how many of the others are due for replacement, interim Superintendent Christopher Williams replied, “Most.” A list of “prioritized” projects shown during the meeting (here’s the full slide deck) included two in West Seattle – Lincoln Park by the wading pool/north play area and Westcrest Park‘s south side, Parks also says it’s working on a system to remotely lock and unlock comfort stations to improve efficiency.
(WSB file photo)
As noted here last weekend, this is the final week of operations this year for three of our area’s city-run wading pools – South Park closes after tomorrow, Delridge after Friday, E.C. Hughes after Sunday. Lincoln Park will be open through Labor Day. That was supposed to be the last day for Highland Park Spraypark – but in an aquatics update today, Seattle Parks announced two extra weeks for West Seattle’s only spraypark, which will now be open through Sunday, September 18th. (Never been? It’s at 1100 SW Cloverdale.) The announcement also says, “Next summer, Seattle Parks and Recreation hopes to resume summer aquatics at our pre-pandemic schedules” and says they’re hiring for indoor-pool jobs – go here to find out more.
(WSB file photo, E.C. Hughes wading pool)
The short season for most city-run wading pools is close to ending. The Delridge (4501 Delridge Way SW), E.C. Hughes (2805 SW Holden), and South Park wading pools have three more days to go – or put another way, one week, as each of those pools operates three days a week.
South Park – open Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday, last day August 17th
Delridge – open noon-5:30 pm Wednesday/Thursday/Friday, last day August 19th
E.C. Hughes – open noon-7 pm Monday/Tuesday/Sunday, last day August 21st
The Lincoln Park (8011 Fauntleroy Way SW) wading pool will continue daily operations through Labor Day (noon-7 pm), as will the Highland Park (1100 SW Cloverdale) spraypark (11 am-8 pm). If you’re new in the area and wondering why the wading-pool schedule is so constrained, it dates back to city budget cuts more than a decade ago (they even solicited sponsors for adding days at one point, and got some for a while).
To the untrained eye, this tree might look like just another one of the many towering evergreens in Lincoln Park. It’s not.
Rouyer is a retired college educator. He specialized in political science, particularly Middle Eastern affairs – and took an interest in trees after retiring. Studying the trees in Lincoln Park is what led him to seek the designation for this one, estimated at 100 years old and more than 150 feet tall. He said most people walk through the park and have no idea that there’s so many kinds of trees and that some are worthy of special recognition, like this one in the north end of the park. Instead of getting a big fancy plaque, he opted for this simple tag:
Friends joined him today for a small gathering to commemorate the designation and celebrate the tree:
As explained by Plant Amnesty, the Heritage Tree designation does not confer any legal protection – but the organization hopes it will encourage tree preservation (which happens to be back in the news this week – we hope to write more about that this weekend).
Last week, signage and caution tape went up around a play structure at Alki Playground, one day after readers told us the structure had been fenced off without explanation. When we inquired with Seattle Parks , they said only that the closure followed a “recent play-area safety check.” On followup, they’ve offered a bit more of an explanation:
The safety inspection revealed a major structural issue with the wood decking. This play structure is long overdue for replacement. We plan to remove the wooden structure prior to this school year. We are working with Seattle Public Schools on a replacement plan.
The playground is a Seattle Parks facility but used by students at adjacent Alki Elementary, which is scheduled close in one year for a reconstruction project.
Love wildlife? Plants? Parks? Here’s a volunteer opportunity we’ve been asked to let you know about:
Become a SUNGuide!
Seattle Urban Nature Guides enhance, promote and foster appreciation of nature by connecting families, students and the community with their Seattle parklands, and provide educational opportunities for all.
As a SUNGuide, you will:
● Develop Job Skills such as public speaking, education techniques and group engagement
● Enjoy a community of fellow volunteers and city staff
● Receive FREE Training on Pacific Northwest flora and fauna, habitats, environmental-education techniques to connect with a wide variety of audiences, and equity concepts
● Lead hands-on learning experiences in a variety of settings from playgrounds to beaches
● Familiarize yourself with Seattle’s diverse parklands while helping others do the same
Application deadline is Saturday, August 20th; training begins Saturday, August 27th. To apply please visit our website:
Environmental Education Volunteering – Parks | seattle.gov
Questions? Contact Penny Rose at email@example.com
Thanks to everyone who emailed after discovering fencing had gone up around the southwest part of the Alki playground on the north side of Alki Elementary. It’s a Seattle Parks site, so we inquired this morning and just got replies saying this sign would be posted this afternoon, explaining the play area was closed “after a recent play area safety check” and adding, “We are working with Seattle Public Schools to address the future of this site.” However, the replies we received did not elaborate on what safety issue was discovered, so we’re asking that on followup. Seattle Parks has closed several play structures in recent years because of various safety concerns; one of them, Lincoln Park’s south play area, is still closed after five years.
P.S. One issue in the play area’s future obviously will be the Alki Elementary rebuild, scheduled to start construction in about a year.
Last weekend, the West Seattle Outdoor Movies series re-launched at Camp Long. Starting this weekend, the series moves to Hotwire Coffee, but Camp Long has other events coming up – and a way to get involved beyond events. From Seattle Parks’ Matt Kostle:
Free Rock Climbing Nights:
We are opening our Rock Climbing program to the public a couple of times this summer for families to take advantage of. The dates are:
Sign up for slots will start at 4:30 pm and climbing slots will run from 5 pm-6 pm and 6:30 pm-7:30 pm. Folks are welcome to sign up whenever they arrive, but we will be limited to 10 slots each hours on a first come/first served basis. Each participant can expect to climb 1 or 2 times depending on attendance. Youth under 18 will need to have a parent or guardian present to sign their waiver. This is family friendly and even youth as young as toddlers can climb!
Seattle Parks and Recreation invite you and your family to celebrate Camp Long Mountain Fest from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday September 10th. Camp Long Mountain Fest, an annual celebration of Seattle’s climbing and outdoor recreation history and community, was first held in 2014, in honor of the 75th anniversary of the completion of Schurman Rock, constructed between 1938 and 1939 by the Work Progress Administration, and believed to be the first human constructed climbing structure in the country. There is much more than just climbing though. Visitors can challenge themselves on the high ropes course; try climbing Schurman Rock and rappelling on the Glacier Wall; try their hand at a Camp Long Scavenger Hunt and participate in many other activities and events. All events are free.
We are also still looking for more Advisory Council members.
-Represent and engage the community
-Advocate on behalf of the community
-Advise on programs and activities that meet community needs
-Assist with fundraising and promotions
-Event planning and volunteer participation
Inquire at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 206-684-7434 for more information if you are interested and have questions.
The park is at 5200 35th SW (35th/Dawson, where there’s now a signal if you’re crossing from west of 35th).
The public phase of the Fauntleroy ferry terminal replacement project is in a summer lull – next milestone, Washington State Ferries spokesperson Hadley Rodero tells WSB, is that in “September, we will share the results of the next round of screening for the remaining project alternatives. Community advocacy efforts are active, however, including a new group focused on saving Cove Park to the north of the existing dock. The group has launched a website spelling out its concerns. First, some background on Cove Park:
(WSB photo, July 18, 2015)
Exactly seven years ago – on July 18, 2015 – the small beachfront park reopened to the public after a three-year closure for a pump-station upgrade. It’s officially a city street-end, not a Seattle Parks property, transformed by community members in the ’90s. The new group is worried about possible options for the ferry terminal/dock rebuild that could expand its footprint. One of the volunteers involved in the Save Cove Park effort, Diana Spence, explains, “We are trying to bring awareness to the community that they can get involved to protect Fauntleroy Cove. We don’t support any option that would include expanding the ferry terminal footprint to the north.” Spence says they’re awaiting more public involvement before taking a position on any particular alternative that’s currently into play. Right now, they’re working on awareness and are distributing yard signs – more than 50 so far – as well as supporting a letter-writing campaign – more info is on the group’s website.
One-fifth of Seattle Parks‘ funding comes from a supplementary source – the property-tax-levy-funded Seattle Park District, created with voter approval in 2014. Tomorrow at 5:30 pm (Thursday, July 14th), the City Council, meeting as the Park District Board, will have a public hearing on a spending proposal for the district’s next six-year funding cycle. With so much park space in West Seattle, you might consider commenting, so we want to be sure you’ve heard about it. The proposal includes “pre-committed” spending for so-called landbanked parks including the three in West Seattle (The Junction, Morgan Junction, 48th/Charlestown) – here’s the high-level breakdown; the proposal results from work by the Board of Park Commissioners, as detailed here. Tomorrow’s public hearing comes before elected officials propose potential changes, as outlined in this post by Councilmember Lisa Herbold last month. It’s a hybrid meeting, at City Hall and online, and you can comment either way – the agenda explains how.
Seven events have been announced for Roxhill Park (29th SW and SW Barton) over the next month – starting this Saturday. They’re all in the WSB West Seattle Event Calendar, too, but here’s a quick FYI: The first event is for bird fans – this Saturday (and two weeks later, on July 30th), be at the park at 9 am to meet two Seattle Audubon Master Birders for a walk to learn about local birds and how/where to see them. Details are here. If you’re interested in the longer walk on July 30th, preregistration is requested – go here.
Then starting a week from today, at 10 am July 20th and for each Wednesday thereafter through August 10th, the park will be the site of watercolor-painting sessions geared toward people 50 and up. And on July 30th, you’re invited to an afternoon-long dance festival, both as a spectator and a participant, 1-5 pm – the “Dare to Dance” festival will feature performances and workshops by dance groups and choreographers.
All of these events are free.