UPDATE: 12:30 PM:
Parks spokesperson Joelle Hammerstad tells us that Perugia Park is still being considered — it’s just not a decision that will be finalized right now.
“What happens next is we put this on the backburner,” she said. “We’ll pick it up in the spring. Perugia Park is not off the table but we have a long list of other recommendations.”
Hammerstad said her department hoped that naming the park for Perugia might be the start of a healing process.
“We hoped doing the park naming might help heal the relationship between Seattle and Perugia — even though it had nothing to do with judicial system it might be a good beginning. But obviously feelings are still pretty raw.”
Our news partners at the Seattle Times got a list of names submitted by the community for the Summit/John park — the first ones the Times posted, we pointed out, were for the 16th/Howell park.
UPDATE 11:40 AM:
We spoke with Mike James, president of the Seattle-Perugia Sister City Association, about the decision to hold off on naming the park to honor Perugia. James tells CHS he’s disappointed with the decision but understands the public reaction.
James said he believes the biggest problem is the timing of the name decision. “I would have waited. My understanding is they were going to wait for spring.I understand the reaction. I think a lot of the people who are upset about the verdict would object to the name.”
“Given the kinds of headlines we see and that the name Perugia has become synonymous with Amanda Knox,” James said, “it’s not a surprise. We’d hoped the park would become symbol of the positive. This kind of incident shouldn’t define the city.”
According to James, his organization submitted a request for the Perugia name during the community naming process. Yesterday, a Parks department spokesperson told us the name had been in the works ‘for years.’ We have also talked to representatives from some of the Hill’s largest community organizations. All said they had not been informed of the possibility of naming the park for Perugia.
James said his organization was also planning to help support construction of the park and had arranged for a sculpture by an Italian artist to be featured in the greenspace. The work by Artemio Giovagnoni was to include a woman sitting on a park bench with a bird on her shoulder. We’ve included an example of Giovagnoni’s work on this post.
Parks spokesperson Paula Hoff referred us to her counterpart Joelle Hammerstad for more information about the decision. We’re awaiting her return call.
Seattle’s Parks Department today reversed its decision to name a new Capitol Hill greenspace for an Italian ‘sister city’ due to “community concerns about the naming of Perugia Park on the heels of the recent verdict in the criminal case involving Seattle resident Amanda Knox.” Here’s the statement from the city:
Perugia Park Name Put on Hold
Seattle Parks and Recreation Superintendent Tim Gallagher announced this morning that he will put on hold a decision to name Perugia Park – a new park on Capitol Hill. The park was named to commemorate our Sister City relationship with the Italian city of Perugia, based on a recommendation from the public to the Park Naming Committee.
“Due to community concerns about the naming of Perugia Park on the heels of the recent verdict in the criminal case involving Seattle resident Amanda Knox, we will temporarily shelve the naming process for this park,” Gallagher said. “We will take up the process again in the spring.”
The new park is located at the northeast corner of E John Street and Summit Avenue E. The .22-acre park was acquired in 2007 with funding from the 2000 Pro Parks Levy and a matching grant from the King County Conservation Futures Tax. This space on the western slope of Capitol Hill will be developed into a neighborhood park and P-Patch. Construction is projected to begin in the spring. Development funds will come from both the Pro Parks Levy and the P-Patch Program. For more information about the park, visit: http://seattle.gov/parks/ProParks/projects/JohnSummitParkDev
The Park Naming Committee is comprised of one representative of the Board of Park Commissioners, one representative of the Seattle City Councilmember who chairs the committee dealing with parks issues, and one representative of the Superintendent of Parks and Recreation. For more information about the park naming process, please contact Paula Hoff, Seattle Parks and Recreation, at 206-615-0368 or firstname.lastname@example.org.