Posted by: Neighborhood Updates | February 19, 2009

Design Workshop Update and Myth Busting

I’m a bit tardy in providing an update of the first design workshop. I went out of town one day following the meeting and am just now back.

The Design Workshops

Thanks to all of our supporters who came to the first design workshop on Tuesday, February 3rd. We know there were quite a few you out in the audience. We thank you for attending and for collaborating respectfully with your neighbors about ideas and possible ways to improve California Place Park. I heard lots of wonderful input like seating, native plants, a pea patch, ADA access, tables for chess, a meandering path vs. the straight line sidewalk and many more. I sat at a table with neighbors from the entire spectrum of opinions — we had a very open discussion, everyone listened to each person’s contributions and we found that we agreed on many points! All of these ideas were captured by Karen Kiest and her team and will be integrated into several designs that include different elements for the park, all will be reviewed by the community at the next meeting.

It’s hard not to mention the general tone of the meeting. It was very contentious and many in the crowd were unruly, outspoken and disrespectful. We are aware that some hold the opinion that the park should not change. It’s clear that some of these people are intent on drowning out any kind of constructive discussion with their neighbors about the possibility of making some improvements to this park. Some have gone so far as to spread misinformation about our intentions – I heard many people up in arms about things that are completely false! As well I heard many explain why they chose to sign the petition for no change; many were for reasons that were either groundless exaggerations or completely false.

The Myths that are Circulating and Our Responses

MYTH: The trees will be cut down, harmed, root systems damaged etc.
FACT: FANNA has never advocated for or even discussed the removal of any of the trees in the park. Our ideas are based in preserving and celebrating the natural environment in such a way that everyone may be able to appreciate its beauty through all of the senses.

MYTH: Any change or specifically a change that brings children to the park will attract vagrants, hoodlums, sex offenders or other undesirables.
FACT: FANNA researched the crime statistics for the area through a representative at the SW Precinct and overall the North Admiral area can be characterized as safe place to live, very safe in comparison to most other neighborhoods in the City of Seattle. Officer Benjamin Kinlow of the SW Precinct told us that a close knit and watchful neighborhood deters crime. Generally speaking, when the responsible members of a community rally around a public space and use it more (especially in a low crime area like North Admiral) crime tends to decline in that space. Additionally, FANNA encouraged neighbors in the area around the park to set up a Block Watch. The group met for the first time in November in a meeting led by Officer Kinlow and continues to meet. Please call or email Officer Kinlow (206-684-7724) to learn more about crime trends in our area.

MYTH: A giant, plastic play structure will be erected in this small serene space.
FACT: FANNA has never advocated for or even discussed constructing a plastic play structure in the park. Our ideas center on nature and ideally we’d love to see a natural “playground” a space that pays homage to nature by enticing people of all ages. Click here to read our ideas and goals. We’d like to see a green space that welcomes usage by the community, provides natural barriers for safe usage and is designed to calm and engage its visitors with nature.

MYTH: We will lose our open or green space.
FACT: This is space is very simple, elegant and open. We believe the site should maintain these timeless characteristics while incorporating a more sustainable, natural and playful palette of materials.

MYTH: This will benefit only one member of the community who owns a preschool close by.
FACT: Department of Neighborhoods does not award grants to a single person or household – call or email Stella Chao (206-684-0465) with any questions regarding the parameters for the grant. There are more than 200 people who have signed on to support exploring improvements and who believe these discussions and resulting designs will benefit the entire community. This personal accusation is unwarranted, irrelevant and completely false. FANNA has been inclusive and open about our ideas from the beginning. See the coverage of our public disclosures dating back to early June of 2008 on the West Seattle Blog.

MYTH: The Parks Dept won’t maintain the park.
FACT: FANNA is working closely with the Parks Department through every step of this project. There are meetings scheduled to ensure Parks has an opportunity to provide input to the design process and ensure any new design is aligned with department goals for maintenance and otherwise. Parks will maintain any new design to the same degree that the current park is maintained.

MYTH: We are wasting tax-payer money.
FACT: This matching grant from the Department of Neighborhoods is money that is already in the City budget and would be allocated to another group in another neighborhood like Magnolia, Columbia City or Wallingford if not spent by the Admiral Neighborhood. Why shouldn’t our neighborhood benefit from a great city sponsored program? Please remember these funds are for design only – additional funds will need to be raised for construction of any changes. Construction funds would come from either City funds—already allocated for community development– and from donations from foundations, community members, businesses or other non-profits.

If you signed the petition for “No Change to Park” for one of these or other reasons that you now question or know of someone who did, please call or email your concerns to Tim Gallagher, Superintendent Seattle Parks and Recreation (206-684-8022) and Stella Chao, Director of Department of Neighborhoods (206-684-0465) and send us an email with your experience.

A Quick Refresher

Karen Kiest is the Landscape Architect hired by Friends and Neighbors of North Admiral (FANNA) using the money awarded through a small and simple grant from the Department of Neighborhoods. This is a matching grant and community members must volunteer their time and participation before any funds are spent. Note — we have already exceeded our minimal requirements of matching hours. FANNA applied for this grant to bring the community together to collaborate and create a new design for California Place Park. FANNA has been and will continue to work closely with the Parks Department (as the land owner) through every step of this process. This project wraps up once we have a new design and cost estimate for construction; grant guidelines stipulate that the project must be completed within 6 months. Any next steps taken would include fund raising and then construction.



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