By Ryan Packer
Seattle Parks and Recreation is heading toward awarding construction contracts on three parks in areas of the city with fewer acreage of parks and open space than most Seattle neighborhoods. The impact of Covid-19 on the overall budget of Seattle Parks has caused many park development proposals to be paused, but these projects are advancing in large part because of the oversized impact that increasing green space in these neighborhoods would have relative to the other park development plans in the pipeline. All of these parks are located in urban centers or villages where Seattle has concentrated most of the new housing in the city in recent decades, and many of them have been in planning for a very long time. These parks still lack official names, but they are sure to be beloved additions to the neighborhoods where they are being built.
Currently there are no parks on the east side of the state highway that is Lake City Way within the Lake City hub urban village. The new Lake City park will be on 33rd Avenue NE, just north of NE 125th Street, immediately adjacent to a Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) complex and abutting the SHA play area. This park is over ten years in the making, with the property having been purchased by the city in 2010, and the office building that was standing on the site demolished in 2016.
The park will feature a half basketball court, a small climbing wall near the play area, a section for P-Patches, and a gathering space with a central art feature (see image at the top of this article). The new park will also fill in an important gap in the sidewalk network by installing a high quality sidewalk connection where there’s currently a substandard pathway. The construction contract is estimated to be $687,000 to build this new park.
A new park at S Charlestown Street between 34th Avenue S and 35th Avenue S in the North Rainier urban village has grown quite a bit since it was originally planned. Originally only funded at a fraction of its current size, Seattle Parks eventually was able to expand the plan for the park to nearly one full acre. Earlier this year, the City Council approved the transfer of a recreation covenant to this new park from a property that the city has owned since 1970 in South King County near Black Diamond. That covenant will specify that the land cannot be used for purposes other than outdoor recreation.
In addition to the half basketball court, play area, and adult exercise equipment (a community priority), the central green is designed to accommodate large community picnics as well as events — up to 30 tents could go up in the park for a festival without any infringing on other park uses. There’s also an area planned for a possible future. Portland loo-style public restroom. Street improvements around the park’s border will include new curb bulbs as well.
In addition to this segment going out to bid, the City is also moving to purchase the property between this park and the South East Effective Development (SEED) housing property to the north. Seattle Parks Superintendent Jesús Aguirre told a City Council committee earlier this month that the property owner was considering developing the site as townhomes, but the City moved to purchase it instead. That property, appraised at $1.62 million, will be purchased by the City for $2 million in exchange for the property owner demolishing the existing warehouse on the site and preparing the site to be able to be utilized by the city more quickly. It remains to be seen how this new segment will integrate into the new park. The construction contract for this project is expected to be $2.3 million.
Little Saigon has been identified as an area in need of public open spaces by city reports since at least 2009. This new park in Little Saigon will utilize a narrow parcel situated between Jackson Street and King Street. As such, this park will function as a pedestrian connection as well as a gathering space. The lot, currently used for parking, has a fairly significant change in grade between Jackson and King that had to be incorporated into the design. Ramps bridging that grade difference take up a fairly big portion of the site, but the park also makes room for a play area, lawn, and a performance area with amphitheater-style seating. The existing weeping willow tree on the site will be incorporated into the design. The construction contract for this new park is expected to be a little less than $1.3 million.
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