Jefferson Park expansion finally opens

It’s official—we just received this press release from the city:

The new 43-acre Jefferson Park Expansion Project over the Beacon Reservoir complex is open to the public with all construction fencing being removed by the end of Friday, October 29, 2010. Parks opened the new play area and tennis courts to the public in August 2010.

The Pro Parks Levy funded park offers unparalleled view of the Duwamish and city with Olmsted inspired path system flanked with trees that offer a wonderful respite from city life. The extensive hierarchy of pathways through the site offer connections to the neighborhood and surrounding amenities.

Additionally, the park offers a grand lawn flanked by a gathering plaza, large open spaces with skillfully placed groves of trees, rainwater feature designed by The Berger Partnership Landscape Architects in collaboration with artist Elizabeth Conner, a large traditional play area, new tennis court with lights, terraced seating areas with vistas over the park, a comfort station designed by Parks Senior Architect Mohan Khandekar and a natural turf sports meadow over the lid.

Fencing will remain around the sports meadow on the Beacon Reservoir lid to allow the turf to fully develop. Fencing will be removed in summer 2011.

The future Beacon Mountain play area, funded in part by the Parks and Green Spaces Levy, will also remain fenced off. Construction on this Phase Two project begins in spring 2011. (emphasis ours—BHB)

Seattle Parks and Recreation worked with the Beacon Hill community, Seattle Public Utilities (SPU), and other stakeholders to identify the best park features and priorities for Jefferson Park. A Master Plan for the site was developed in 2002 as a guide. Parks awarded the construction contract to Mid-Mountain Construction, and gave them notice to proceed in June 2009.

For more information please visit: or contact Andy Sheffer, Project Manager at (206) 684-7041 or

We got some emails and tweets yesterday indicating that the fences were coming down, so it’s good to hear the official word that yes, the park is open. Please comment and tell us what you think about the new park.

10 thoughts on “Jefferson Park expansion finally opens”

  1. My daughter, wife and I have already really enjoyed the play area, so I’m really looking forward to checking out the rest of the park. Exciting news!

    I feel like we’ve been looking forward to it opening for so long that its a little surreal to hear that it actually is.

  2. okay, quick math…if the original park was 52 acres and the expansion is another 43 acres then the total now is around 95 acres? Because that means that Jefferson Park really is one of the largest parks in Seattle now.
    Walking around I was not only amazed by the views but I was struck by how big it feels. Beacon Hill can now easily host major city-wide events here. It feels like raw potential, like discovering you have a million dollars in your checking account that you didn’t even know about.

  3. It’s beautiful! I walk there almost daily. I am trying to figure out the distance markings engraved into the pavement around the big field, but haven’t figured it out yet. It’s wonderful with the new activity of children and young families since the playground opened. The vibe and energy is only going to increase with walkers, runners and strollers in the park. I notice that the majority of the strolling paths are not lighted. Are there plans for that?

    The “view” at the “viewpoint” is obscured by that small stand of conifers and should really be opened up more. I noticed it was thinned out a bit, but pruned rather amateurishly. They really just need to take a few more trees out. I know, I know!! I am a tree-hugger, too! But- if there’s a beautiful view, the view takes priority. Besides, if some trees are thinned out, the remaining trees’ lines and silhouettes will be more attractive than they are now, anyway.

    On a related topic, it’d be nice down the road, when there’s some more $$, if they could plant several(4-5) nice large specie native conifers(sequoia, cedar, spruce, cedrus deodoras). What Olmstead Legacy park/greenbelt doesn’t have some? They could be placed so as not to block the view corridors. Speaking of views, did I mention that some of those trees at the “viewpoint” need to go in order to REALLY open up the view? If there were a few more “bucks”, a nice string of Japanese maples/cherry blossoms would be beautiful in the spring, too. I know the Park has a strong historical connection with our Japanese/Asian community, but, I see no representation of that.

    I am hearing that the “community” and City are taking suggestions/ideas for the untouched western slope of the park that borders 15th Ave.. How about a dog park? There has been a huge increase in dog owners in the neighborhood over the past 10-15 years- this would mitigate their by-products in the rest of the park. How about additional parking? I bet folks who live west of the park, but not within walking distance, would appreciate it. There are many competing interests for parking up here, and that is only going to increase.

    Jefferson Park is awesome, now! Even on these gray, wet, fall days, it’s such an open and airy place, with such a great outlook to the city, mountains and Bay.

  4. The concrete lines with engraved numbers are reified topographic lines (as you would see on a topographic map) showing the elevations (in feet) of different contours in the park. I think it’s an interesting and beautiful landscape feature.

  5. Thanks Kashina-

    I was talking about the 1/4 mile and 1/2 mile markers engraved in the main walking path. Today, I just discovered the 3/4 mile – 0 mile marker, which now tells me that the the distance around the whole new park, from directly at the corner entrance by the SFD station, all around to the lawn bowling viewpoint and back, is 3/4’s of a mile. Good to know for runners and walkers.

    As far as the art work- I agree that it is interesting, but it lacks any of the main criteria for what I think qualifies as art; inspirational, thought provoking or beautiful. The information laid out over the couple/few acres would have been better communicated on some upright display board. Who really cares how much, exactly, higher or lower, is one part of the park relative to another? I mean, I can tell you it’s all within thirty or so feet. Something really beautiful or cool, like a Tsutukawa sculpture, or something that draws one to it from a distance.

  6. I agree with Neighbor Laigo. Too often, in my opinion, “public art” looks like it was picked using the lowest common denominator as the main criteria. I agree that there definitely should be more honor paid to our Japanese forbearers both horticulturally and artistically. The marvelous expanse that is before us at the viewpoint could certainly be enhanced by the humanity that Tsutukawa portrays in sculpture.

    Overall, I am very happy with the new park. The new children’s playground is a blast and my 10 month old grand-son loves the swings. My only desire for improvement is a taller swing set for us older kids!

    Many thanks to the folks in our community who put in the countless hours to bring about such a wonderful addition to our beautiful city.

  7. Bob and Liago (and anyone else interested in public art)

    Of course public art is sometimes more successful than others, but I would encourage you to give “Drawing the Land” by Elizabeth Conner some more time to digest. It is not one of those public art pieces that is simple and very straight forward, but it certainly pays homage to the past and neighborhood history.
    You mentioned that art should be ‘inspirational, thought provoking or beautiful’, you have already proven that this work is thought provoking by starting this discussion. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, one persons beautiful art is another persons ugly disaster and of course much of the great art through history could not be considered ‘beautiful’. As far as this piece being inspirational, I would encourage you to do some more research. I’m trying to collect more info on it myself now but it is certainly steeped in neighborhood history including a mention of the last Japanese American Language school picnic that happened in 1941.

  8. Love the new park. About time Beacon Hill had a place for families to gather. This is an amazing addition to our neighborhood!

  9. The park is beautiful and really,what it should of been and left as back in the day. A big applause to all that made it happen. However,the thoughtful words pressed in concrete are too small to really deliver the message and the faunt is not very interesting or artistic. I think a sculpture or plaque with the words in one spot would of been a better idea. I’ve seen this idea used in other parks and something more original would of worked better for such an amazing park with amazing history.
    I also think A. Liago was right to mention the conifers that block the city view…they could easily be cut or moved to a better place.
    The northwest corner of the park is magical so why hide it.?
    Let the sky open it up show our beautiful Puget sound and Olympic mountain range!

  10. Our former neighbor passed just recently, a sweet old man of Italian heritage who lived on Beacon Hill his whole life along with other Italians as part of a community on the edge of “Garlic Gulch”, perhaps we should have some Italian inspired art as well as Japanese inspired?

    Art is really in the eye of the beholder, someone mentioned Tsutukawa sculptures, I’ve never seen one that I didn’t find boring (not saying they aren’t good art, just saying they don’t strike any emotions in me).

    I myself really like the strips of concrete with the words in them. Instead of sequestering the art to a few square yards where it can be ignored by most people, its out there for people to “discover” over and over again while being in the park.

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