By Frederica Merrell
Even on a blustery dark night, supporters of Jefferson Park showed up at 6pm Tuesday at the Lawn Bowling Club to provide advice on the Jefferson Park reconstruction project. Parks Project Manager Andy Scheffer and two members of the Berger Partnership design team shared details on the status of the project, which is happily at 52% completion. There will be another public meeting on December 1st at Jefferson Park Community Center for people who want the update.
The purpose of a project advisory team (PAT) is to provide input and there were several good suggestions made last night, most of which build on previous discussions. One of the great things about the persistence of local advocates is that we have a great historical memory. We don’t forget the important details of what the community has been saying and recommending. We will meet again in January.
Here is a summary of the important points that we asked Andy to follow-up on:
Circulation, bicycle, parking, pedestrian analysis with SDOT
We have been saying for a long time that Parks needs to wrestle SDOT to the table to help design functional access to, and circulation for, this large new park that is safe, attractive, and brings people into the park on all sides, with special emphasis on the west and north sides and the following components:
- Parking analysis of needs and opportunities for all users of the park area to create an efficient strategy for sharing parking and improving parking without building a lot of new lots in the park itself.
- 16th Avenue bicycle route and street improvements that could support west side access near the new Jefferson Playfield and improved angle parking. There is significant drainage and potential green street project from Asa Mercer right through the 16th right away on SPS property.
- Pedestrian access along 15th Avenue, improved safety at Dakota Street entrance and study of the intersection of Columbian Way and Spokane. There is almost no way to safely get across 15th into the park. 15th is also like a freeway right here and SDOT needs to spend some serious time with our community looking at the future of 15th.
- Spokane Street access at Lafayette. The pedestrian path on the north side of the park dead-ends at Lafayette. How many kids are going to run across Spokane here dodging traffic? SDOT can’t ignore this situation when the park opens. Spokane’s function as an informal connection from I-5 to I-90 may have to be addressed. (Sorry West Seattle commuters; might need to slow way down or find another way.)
15th Avenue (Terrace) Design and Urban Agriculture Project
Parks seems to have forgotten that there is a huge chunk of the park that has not been designed for improvements yet. Parks is now clearly responsible for supporting neighborhood planning in the park so they have to address their responsibility to finish design of 15th Avenue (or “terrace”) side of the park while we have the money and management in place. There is a fantastic movement to do urban agriculture, pea patch and education project along this sunny west side. The community could also take over the surplus Water Quality Building to support a working farm as a part of the project. Beacon Hill resident Glenn Herlihy and a team of permaculture students have a stupendous design for this area that needs to be presented to Parks Proview and the community ASAP.
The west side is very important to all the residents west of 15th, many of whom live in more modest housing. As one PAT member said, we don’t want any part of the park to be less inviting or inaccessible. Especially true where lower income families are concerned. Equity was the motivation for the reconstruction and it is a value that must be maintained as we move forward.
Water Quality Building (Beacon Arts Reservoir)
Years ago when SPU built a new water quality building the community met with Chuck Clarke, then head of SPU, to request that this beautiful old building at 15th and Spokane support community work in the park. An informal agreement was discussed of turning the building over to the community if they could come up money for a new roof. It would be administered by Southeast Seattle Arts Council and leased to a Beacon Hill organization to run. It could support arts projects, the urban agriculture project, parks volunteers, etc.
Andy will follow-up on these issues and seek permission from his project manager to take up the additional scope of work.
Hurrah for Andy!
Hurrah for persistent memory of local advocates!
Hurrah for Jefferson Park!