All Pilgrims plans mystical labyrinth, improved connection to Broadway

Today, All Pilgrims is fenced-off from Broadway (Images: CHS)

Today, All Pilgrims is fenced-off from Broadway (Images: CHS)

IMG_4778What years ago was shrouded in a thicket of blackberry brambles may soon again yield fruit for Broadway’s All Pilgrims in the form of a labyrinth as well as a landscaped, more accessible front lawn and plans to fill the moat-like embankment that separates the 1906-built house of worship from the bustling street it calls home. Still in a conceptual phase, the church’s plan needs designs and funding.

“It’s one of the only green spaces on Broadway… we see that as an asset to the community and we’d like to present it as such to be a welcoming space,” said Pastor Greg Turk. Around back, All Pilgrims intends to better utilize an empty to plot to create a a labyrinth. “Right now it’s a pile of dirt,” Turk said. “We know we can do a better job with that landscape.” Visit First Hill’s First Baptist if you’re in need of a wander through the maze in the meantime.

The church already has a city permit lined up and plans to complete the entirety of the work in one phase. A preliminary $100,000 budget has been attached to the project but Turk said the scope of transformation for the church’s land is still being worked out.

IMG_4793The efforts on the front lawn will, ideally, lay out more flat surfaces, tables and places to sit around the old tree that shades the area. Funding will determine the scope and deadline for the project. All Pilgrims representatives would optimally like to start the work by August.

Pastor Turk and others around the All Pilgrims community are also well aware that the project’s designs will have to be sensitive to the large numbers of homeless people who frequent the Broadway area.

IMG_4774“I think the community concerns, that I’ve heard, are around folks staying on private property or encampments on sidewalks where they’re finding… drug use,” Turk said.

“[We need to] take the time to do thoughtful planning,” said church rep, Kathleen Hosfield. All Pilgrims is driving to set up the project to get the “biggest bang for the buck,” she adds, and the Capitol Hill institution spent quite a few of those on upgrades to the old building last fall.

The church spent nearly one million dollars on infrastructure modifications to strengthen the building’s old masonry and replace the roof.

Turk said he recently met with the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce about the situation and is noticing a decrease in campers around the church as of late. “It’s a challenging issue,” Turk said. All Pilgrims hosts a weekly supper on Thursday for the underfed. “[It's] Bigger picture than just us,” he said. He hopes to continue developing a dialogue with the community to find a solution, while also taking steps to begin creating an engaging space for the community. Done correctly and creatively and with a space put to use, there’s the possibility for All Pilgrims to create a positive, peaceful space on north Broadway.

In the meantime, there are contingency plans. The landscaping may be scaled back depending on budget which officials are actively seeking from the community. A cost estimate is forthcoming. Dimensions and schematics for the labyrinth are still in development.  If funding cannot be accrued than All Pilgrims will tentatively push back the overhaul to spring of 2015 as construction during a Seattle soaked fall would inherently present issues, said Turk. “Sometimes churches aren’t the swiftest moving operations,” he added with a chuckle.

All Pilgrims is located at 500 Broadway E. You can learn more at allpilgrims.org.

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