Parks ready to show off lighting plan to keep Cal Anderson busy, safe at night

White Light at Midnight, Cal Anderson Park

Lighting at Cal Anderson could be getting a makeover in the coming years, and the public is getting a chance to weigh in next week on the potential improvements to create a safer, more efficient, and hopefully more aesthetically lit park.

The city has been engaged in a lighting study of Cal Anderson for the past few months, explained Oliver Bazinet of Seattle Parks. They began by walking around the park at night with some community groups and looking at where and how the lighting in the park might be improved.

The study focused only on Cal Anderson Park, not the adjacent — and frequently fully lit — Bobby Morris Playfield.

A group of consultants came up with a mock-up plan, and that plan will be presented to the public for review for the first time next Thursday night.

The existing globe-style fixtures which use metal-halide bulbs would be switched out of a different globe-style fixture using LED bulbs. Bazinet said the LED fixtures would provide a more consistent color, would be easier to maintain and would use less electricity.

The study is also considering how and where new lighting might be added. The plan now calls for adding potentially new lights to existing poles along the park’s pathways. New lighting might also be added to the entrances. The plan does not call for adding lights to open areas or to the playground.

Cal Anderson Lighting Study Open House

As the plan develops, the city would come up with a hierarchy of pathways for where it might add lighting. The idea is to add sufficient lighting to keep the park a busy and safe space at night.

Bazinet said the department understands that public safety is a big concern for many residents, and that some people consider the park to be unsafe at night. While the new lighting might not discourage people from engaging in antisocial behavior in the park, it might attract more people to the space, and that might have the effect of dislocating the bad actors.


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The current study is costing taxpayers $50,000. The final cost of the changes is impossible to say until a final plan is developed. A study funded by the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce in 2015 (PDF) estimated the cost of adding pathway lighting at between $105,000 and $210,000. It went on to estimate a park-wide lighting renovation (including lighting in landscaped areas and architectural elements, to cost between $780,000 and $960,000. Those numbers are speculative, however, since the city might implement a completely different plan.

After the upcoming meeting, the parks department will work to develop a full design for lighting changes. That proposal would need to go through both architectural and landmark review, which Bazinet said they hope to do in January 2018. It would then move on to an internal department review before being placed on the Parks Department budget. At that point, the project could become eligible for grant funding, or might attract private fundraising. Alternatively, it could sit in the parks budget until there’s enough money for the city to build it.

Short version: It is unclear how long it will be before new lights start getting installed at the park.

The Cal Anderson Lighting Study Open House is scheduled for 5 to 8 PM on Thursday, December 14th at the Cal Anderson Shelterhouse, 1635 11th Ave.

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7 thoughts on “Parks ready to show off lighting plan to keep Cal Anderson busy, safe at night

  1. I have to question if it’s a worthwhile goal to keep the park “busy” at night. Do “regular people” really want to hang out in a public park at night? Especially one which is known to have sketchy characters after dark? I doubt it. Certainly the park should be made safer at night for those who want to walk through on their way somewhere else. But “busy”?….no.

  2. If public safety is a concern, why don’t we hire more police or security to enforce laws that are already in place?

    This is a lot of money spent to “push” potential lawbreakers elsewhere.

    • Agreed. It is crazy the amount of sketchiness that Seattle allows in Cal Anderson Park, not to mention the muggings that occur in the same location at the same time night after night. It is one block from the police station! They should assign a pair of officers to the park every night from midnight to after the bars close. More lighting is great, but it won’t make up for the lack of political will in cleaning up the shitshow.

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