First Hill unveils its first ‘pavement to parks’ open spaces for community and ‘a little fun’

Two prototype parks part of the First Hill Public Realm Action Plan were unveiled Saturday afternoon by Mayor Ed Murray, officials from city agencies, and community group representatives.

Murray lead a ribbon cutting ceremony and gave a speech praising the project. He told CHS that these small parks would give residents of First Hill a place to call their own.

“As we continue to grow, we need to create open space,” Murray told CHS. “We don’t have blocks and blocks to create parks like we did with Cal Anderson Park over a decade ago, but underutilized spaces like this are one of the ways we can give people a chance to be outside, have open space, to share community with their neighbors, have a little fun.”

Located at the three-way intersection of University, Union and Boylston and at Ninth and University, the two parks were built on what the city said were underutilized right of way spaces after Seattle Parks was unable to purchase land for a traditional park due to high costs in the high density neighborhood.

Murray noted that similar “pavement to parks” projects have succeeded in other cities in Europe and the U.S. and said that he was confident it would be successful in Seattle.

Susan McLaughlin of the Seattle Department of Transportation said that safety was a top priority in constructing the parks.

“We’ve been thoughtful in terms of the edge lines and the barriers and the color selection so that it’s really easy for drivers to understand that this isn’t a roadway anymore,” she said. SDOT worked with Seattle Parks and the First Hill Improvement Association on the project.

Alex Hudson, a coordinator at the First Hill Improvement Association, said the parks had “overwhelming support” from the community. Her organization will do programing at each of the parks, supported by a grant from the Department of Neighborhoods. The next event is a trivia night on August 25th at Ninth and University.

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29 thoughts on “First Hill unveils its first ‘pavement to parks’ open spaces for community and ‘a little fun’

  1. I walked by it today, and there were people sitting at the tables and chairs chit chatting, and cars only have to go one block out of the way to get where they’re going. I was skeptical of this at first, and I thought it would look ‘cheap, but I must say, I like it. I could see going there in the evening and playing cards or backgammon with friends.

    Another location I’d like to see this is Harvard and Thomas, where the street is strangely wide for no apparent reason. I believe someone once said it was for turning radius of the no longer in existence streetcar.

    • Agreed. Historically, there was a streetcar that needed the extra space to turn around, but in 2015, obviously, that is no longer needed. It is a great idea, but that blue paint looks like a swimming pool in Palm Desert. Hmm.

  2. This is great! So many, especially in that area don’t have yards or balconies. They can get out, enjoy fresh air and bond with their neighbors.

  3. Instead of blocking streets and taking away parking to create small, flat, bland and denuded spaces, why don’t we carry over the foresight of a couple of generations ago and put a lid on I-5? Lets take something that is ugly, noisy and divides our neighborhoods and turn it into a park that connects us.

  4. this is alright, but there is a “real” park with grass, plants, benches, etc just two blocks W on University St.

    • Trouble with that “real” park is there’s only a couple of benches and tables, half of which are occupied at any time by homeless people, and the grass is too contaminated by neighborhood dogs to be useful as a picnic space.

  5. Wow, that is ugly. Who came up with the idea for the hideous turquoise paint? Parks are important but they should also be nice places that are attractive. It seems like our urban planners and the developers are in a contest to see who can design or build the tackiest eyesore. Wow!

  6. Good thing this is a nice place that’s attractive! Wouldn’t want anything stuffy and dull like that thing in Belltown, would we?

  7. Though I’m still confused about the square designs in the turquoise park, I’m happy to see the park take up what was an awkward 5-way intersection. I live across the street without a yard or balcony so it’s nice to be able to eat outside, enjoy fresh air & say hi to neighbors than hearing cars almost hit or honk at each other daily. No one seemed to know which one had the right of way and the 1-block detour is not that big of a deal. It’s a nice addition to the neighborhood, even if the turquoise and squares doesn’t make total sense.

    • I like this cheap, weird, harmless solution because it means we likely got a new park in a tenth of the time for a tenth of the cost of something all properly cobbled and planted and whatnot.

  8. First of all, I love this park. I think it’s a great addition, and twice, later in the evening, I’ve seen people from the neighborhood now sitting and enjoying it, reading, playing a game and having a couple of beers. It’s great for the community. (for the above poster, I too am completely confused as to the square designs, maybe at throwback to the scrabble game they hosted last year?)

    However, finding actual INFORMATION about the timelines, this unveiling on Saturday with the Mayor, and the like is almost non-existent. I live 2 blocks from this, walk by multiple times a day, and am not alone in saying that those of us in the actual community knew nothing of the details of the plan. How is that even possible? We knew nothing of this event on Saturday. Why not? There should have been signage, timelines and event details posted in the park, bulletin board style (in fact, why isn’t there a community bulletin board there?), so those of us who the park is intended for would know what was going on with it. Instead we got orange cones and do not enter signs for traffic. The only real information available was a pdf buried in the seattle.gov website and even that is not as forthcoming as it should be.

    As stated, I love the park, but the engagement with the community about it has been next to nothing.

    The biggest concern I have is that this will become another zone for the homeless and target for taggers. As a commenter above stated, the park at University and Minor only gets maintained by the city maybe once a month, if we’re lucky, and is overrun with campers, dog excrement, drug paraphernalia, and general uncleanliness. That park needs a serious design overhaul, major tree pruning and more active paths, to combat it’s use as a camp. As it is, it’s not an engaging park at all. I see people walk around it daily, instead of through it. And that’s a shame.

    • It sounds like a great opportunity for those who live near University and Minor to organize a neighborhood park clean up effort. Im sure the city will lend supplies and you may even find sponsors to chip in a little (or at least offer refreshments) in support of cleaning the park.

      I’ve volunteered my manpower before for park clean ups. Its a great way to team-build with neighbors and there a great sense of pride once the work is complete.

      It all starts with one person….

  9. We walked through this yesterday morning not realizing just how new it was. My husband and I both agree that it’s a wonderful addition to the neighborhood. I hope we’ll see more of these. I agree with the comment above, living just around the corner, that Harvard & Thomas might make another great spot for one of these.

  10. I like what they’ve done so far, and hopefully in the next few years they can break open some of the concrete and plant a tree or two.