A little tactical urbanism puts parks in streets of First Hill, test pedestrian zone on E Pike

Finding ways to make the city streets work best for residents, businesses, and the community in increasingly dense areas like First Hill and Capitol Hill requires a little bit of strategy and tactical urbanism. The summer of 2015 will see the deployment of a few early test missions on our streets.

Screen-Shot-2015-06-03-at-5.23.28-PM-600x401Organizers from the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict behind a plan to create a pedestrian-only zone in Pike/Pine have set a target for their test mission:

The pilot will close three blocks of Pike Street to car traffic on four Saturday nights in August. The first two nights, August 8 and 15, will be shorter and focus on crowd management and public safety. The second two nights, August 22 and 29, will expand on this concept with community based programming. Volunteers needed for data collection! Continue reading

CHS Pics | As plans form for its replacement, Volunteer Park stage hosts ‘music under the stars’

IMG_5207There will be more music in the park Thursday night after Volunteer Park gets its summer piano. Wednesday night, the Seattle Chamber Music Society hosted another “Music Under the Stars” session at the Volunteer Park amphitheater stage.

With life in a northern town meaning no stars until the sun’s light finally fades late into the night and with an amphitheater lawn already much more brown than we’re used to seeing in Seattle, the Sempre Sisters performed Handel — “plus fiddle favorites” — as a prelude to the picnic-friendly KING FM broadcast from Benaroya Hall. The 2015 series in Volunteer Park wraps up next week with July 22nd’s night of music.

IMG_5219Meanwhile, the effort to recreate Volunteer Park’s amphitheater is moving forward with a $25,000 grant from the City of Seattle Department of Neighborhoods to create a feasibility study to “explore technical requirements and community preferences for a new performance space.”

CHS wrote earlier this year about the Volunteer Park Trust’s effort to recreate the outdoor performance space. According to the city, a performance pavilion was designed into the park by the Olmsted Brothers back in 1912 — but that pavilion stood where the Seattle Asian Art Museum stands today. The current stage dates to the 1970s and is showing its age.Screen Shot 2015-07-16 at 3.47.22 PM

“Public input will be a major component of the year-long study, with two community-wide meetings planned as well as targeted focus groups for neighbors, arts organizations, and major park users,” an announcement from the trust on the project reads. “Once the agreed-upon design is completed, the Trust will work with Seattle Parks in seeking a combination of public and private funds to finance construction, with the goal of having a new performance space completed by 2018.”

You can learn more at volunteerparktrust.org.

Pianos in the Parks returns with keyboards in Cal Anderson, Volunteer Park

Piano in the Park

(Image: @gageacademy)

(Image: @gageacademy)

Two hand-painted pianos will begin a summer stay in Cal Anderson and Volunteer Park Thursday night in a promotion to celebrate the region’s great public spaces with the sometimes surreal placement of the bulky musical instruments in the middle of Seattle city parks. Pianos in the Park has returned. Tubas in the parks just didn’t have the same ring to it:

The Pianos in the Parks program, made possible by Laird Norton Wealth Management, encourages the discovery of parks through music and art by placing one-of-a-kind, artist-designed upright and grand pianos in parks and open spaces across Bellevue, Kirkland, Mercer Island, Seattle and other parts of King County. All pianos are made available for free public use and music exploration through Aug. 16.

Following a Thursday kick-off event at Lake Union Park, the pianos will be moved to their new homes:

  • Bellevue – Ashwood Plaza (Bellevue Regional Library), Bellevue Botanical Gardens and Downtown Park
  • Kirkland – Marina Park
  • Mercer Island – Luther Burbank Park and Mercerdale Park
  • Redmond – Marymoor Park 
  • Seattle – Ballard Commons (Ballard), Jefferson Park (Beacon Hill), Cal Anderson Park and Volunteer Park(Capitol Hill), Green Lake Park (Green Lake), Magnuson Park (Sand Point), Rainier Beach Plaza (Rainier Valley), Seacrest Park/Alki (West Seattle) and Steve Cox Memorial Park (White Center), as well as downtown Seattle neighborhood parks and open spaces including Occidental Square (Pioneer Square), Denny Park and Lake Union Park (South Lake Union) and Seattle Center (Uptown).
  • Woodinville – Sammamish River Trail

The Capitol Hill pianos are expected to be in place by Thursday night. Continue reading

CHS Pics | Cal Anderson ping pong




There are a lot of games you can play at Bobby Morris Playfield and Cal Anderson Park — now add ping pong. Wednesday under a sunny evening sky, the park’s new ping pong table was warmed up for you with a party to celebrate the new feature installed by community group the Cal Anderson Park Alliance.

The ping pong table is hoped to help keep the area near the park’s restrooms and shelterhouse busy with players and activities and discourage camping and drug use around the facilities.

The table is the same style added last year to Westlake Park and is designed to (hopefully) withstand the rigors of urban ping pong play. CAPA plans to supply paddles and balls for the table through the summer but you can also bring your own. Play is first come, first served. Be fair. Share.

(Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

(Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

What’s next for Capitol Hill’s central park? The Cal Anderson Ping Pong Table

As an open, public space in the middle of the densest neighborhood in the Pacific Northwest, Cal Anderson sometimes requires a little boost here and there to keep the park a great place to hang out in the city.

This year, the park is getting a ping pong table. The new feature makes its debut Wednesday night with a special exhibition of paddling skills:

10563183_931933156829586_3921563616929058115_nCal Anderson Ping Pong in the Park Day
Wednesday, June 3, 2015 — 5 to 7 PM
Cal Anderson Park Alliance is proud to be hosting a series of exhibition matches as WE WELCOME PING PONG TO CAL ANDERSON PARK. This will be the DEBUT of the latest and greatest addition to the park — a ping pong table! So, make a night of it. Bring the whole family, friends, dogs, kids and a picnic basket. We will also have snacks, drinks, as well as special balloons and games for kids.

After the exhibition starring the Seattle University Table Tennis Club, the table will be open to public players. We encourage the pros to play with the public. FREE FUN FOR EVERYONE!

According to a representative for the Cal Anderson Park Alliance, the community group purchased the same style of outdoor table installed in Westlake Park last year. The table will be located on the cement area next to Cal Anderson’s restrooms and shelterhouse. Paddles and balls will be provided by CAPA if you’d like to play, or you can bring your own. The group is also planning to replenish the gear over the course of the summer.

The table joins a string of investments small and large in recent years to help keep the park busy with activities and make it harder for criminal activity or camping to take place. Continue reading

Upgrades planned for Capitol Hill’s densely packed Tashkent Park

Workers take a break from fiber installation at a new apartment building built next to the park (Images: CHS)

Workers take a break from fiber installation at a new apartment building built next to the park (Images: CHS)

IMG_5791Part of some of the most densely packed blocks in the Pacific Northwest, Capitol Hill’s pockets of public open space play many roles and give us all a little breathing room when we need it.

Tashkent Park on Boylston between Republican and Mercer just a few blocks below Broadway is more tightly packed than most. Built in the late 1980s and named in tribute to Seattle’s Uzbekistani sister city, the park sits near thousands of neighbors and is ready for a major refresh.

Thursday night, you’re invited to be part of the planning for a new project hoped to begin construction this August:

Tashkent Park Improvements
Seattle Parks and Recreation invites the community to a public meeting for the Tashkent Park improvements. This is an opportunity to learn about the proposed new landscaping and small plaza. The Sr. Landscape Architect from Seattle Parks will present the proposed plan, answer questions and gather community feedback.

Seattle Parks is applying for funding through the Community Development Block Grant and anticipates construction to begin in August 2015.

Thursday, May 28, 2015
6:30 – 7:45 p.m.
Capitol Hill Branch
425 Harvard Ave. E

IMG_5808“Our main goal for this project is to improve the landscaping with more shade tolerant plants and make the park plaza ADA accessible,” a Seattle Parks rep tells CHS. Continue reading

Central District’s Jimi Hendrix Park expected to open after summer construction

(Image: Murase Associates)

(Image: Murase Associates)

(Image: Murase Associates)

(Image: Murase Associates)

In 2006, what was once the Colman School parking lot on the corner of 25th and S Massachusetts Street was turned into a simple grassy field with a tall wall hiding it from the community.  Now, nine years later, the project to renovate the park and dedicate it to Jimi Hendrix has begun.

What once was hidden will become a source of pride among the neighborhoods that surround the park according to Kim Baldwin, Seattle Parks project manager.

In fact, one of the main focuses of this project is “connection to the community.”  Baldwin expects it to become a gathering place for people to “celebrate the neighborhood.”

(Image: Murase Associates)

(Image: Murase Associates)

The park’s rock and roll design is inspired by Hendrix, who grew up near the area.  For example, the park’s entrance and main path will be alongside a long guitar-like structure.  The Jimi Hendrix Park Foundation also hopes to host music events at the park as well as cultural events and activities for the community. They hope to, through the park, “beautify Seattle, motivate youth and others to achieve in music and art, and strengthen the cultural pulse of the Emerald City,” according to the group’s website.

The renovations are already underway with construction starting earlier this spring.  April marked the beginning of underground utility work, and above-ground demolition will be the next step.

As construction begins, the Jimi Hendrix Park Foundation continues working towards its fundraising goal of $1.5 million. The first stage of construction will not include the wave wall feature and canopy structure — future stages of construction will follow. Without issues in construction or funds, the park is planned to open with its first wave of features in September 2015.

You can learn more and support the park effort at jimihendrixparkfoundation.org.

(Image: Murase Associates)

(Image: Murase Associates)

Eastlake seeks ideas to make the I-5 Colonnade weirder and more useful

Fremont may have Seattle’s most well known bridge underpass, but Eastlake’s Colonnade Open Space under I-5 is more useful, impressive, and even weirder than hordes of tourists crawling over a troll.

Opened in 2005, the Colonnade is now in need of some work and the Eastlake Community Council wants input on how the park should be improved and expanded. An introductory public meeting on the project will be held Thursday night at 6:30 PM at the Agora Conference Center.

Located under I-5 along Lakeview Blvd. E, the Colonnade includes an off-leash dog park, pedestrian walkways, and an award winning mountain bike park. The Eastlake Community Council, which was responsible for obtaining the initial funds to open the space in 2005, has already kicked around some ideas for improvements to the park:

  • Adding new paths and sidewalks to improve access through the park.
  • Adding a skate bowl and ramps
  • Improved trail surfacing and bike themed art
  • An agility course for dogs with “paw-friendly” surfacing and dog themed art
(Image: City of Seattle)

(Image: City of Seattle)

Improving pedestrian and bike connections from the park to Capitol Hill was also cited as part of a study completed by the community council in 2012.

At its south end, the study suggests that Colonnade park needs a stairway up to Lakeview Blvd., a trail south to the intersection of Eastlake Ave. and E. Aloha Street, and a trail southwest to the intersection of Franklin Ave. E. and E. Galer St. It also suggests that on the WSDOT land between E. Galer and E. Nelson streets that connects Colonnade with Eastlake Avenue, there could be steps and a switchback trail, and in the sunny upper elevation above the trees, possibly P-Patch plots to address the citywide shortage.

To learn more about the project and how to get involved, visit eastlakeseattle.org

Five streateries coming to Capitol Hill (Plus, the new Sugar Plum parklet)

A Central District parklet along E Union opened last year between 23rd and MLK (Image: CHS)

A Central District parklet along E Union opened last year between 23rd and MLK (Image: CHS)

Five of Seattle’s first dozen nine new “streateries” will be located on Capitol Hill. The hybrid combining the parklet concept with traditional sidewalk patios will create small seating and deck areas for customers in the section of the streetside typically reserved for parking. When the sponsoring businesses aren’t open, the streateries are intended to serve as public park space.

Here’s the roster of Capitol Hill locations announced Monday by the Seattle Department of Transportation:

  • Montana (conversion) — E Olive Way
  • Comet and Lost Lake (conversion) — 10th/Pike
  • Mamnoon — Melrose
  • Bottleneck Lounge — E Madison
  • New project from Comet/Lost Lake partners in former Kingfish Cafe space — 19th Ave E

Two of the five represent a conversion from permitted parklets at the locations into the new format that allows for businesses to operate the spaces as sidewalk cafes exclusively for their patrons during business hours — though the Comet/Lost Lake parklet was never implemented.

In addition to securing approval from neighboring businesses, the streatery hosts are also on the hook for paying for the displaced revenue from removed on-street parking –$3,000 per space, per year. In the case of Montana, site of the city’s first parklet that took up all of 1.5 on-street parking spaces, the E Olive Way bar is on the hook for $4,500 per year  doesn’t owe a damn thing because there’s no paid parking (yet) on E Olive Way. Dave Meinert and the guys at the Comet? They’ll owe around $6,000 per year, apparently. (Updated at 7 PM)

Montana owner Rachel Marshall tells CHS she doesn’t know about the timing for the conversion of her space on E Olive Way saying that working things out with the state liquor board will be her next step — along with writing that check to the City of Seattle.

Meanwhile, the city also announced that 15th Ave E will get a new “old school” parklet in front of the under construction Sugar Plum. The announcement, below, also teases a First Hill location for a new parklet — we’re asking for specifics on where that is planned to be located. UPDATE: SDOT says the press release is incorrect — the location being referred to is not on First Hill but in the Denny Triangle area, instead. Continue reading

14 Park and Street Fund proposals include Cal Anderson lighting, Pollinator Pathway

(Image: Joe Wolf via Flickr)

(Image: Joe Wolf via Flickr)

Exactly how community bodies like the East District Council fit in the future District 3 framework may not have been entirely worked out but the neighborhood representatives still have some important responsibilities. Tuesday night, the EDC will hear from finalists with projects proposed for parts of the $2 million in Neighborhood Park and Street Fund grants available in 2015. The fund can be used for projects up to $90,000 to fund park or street improvements.

Included in the roster are several ideas that have come up in recent CHS coverage including a proposal for funds to trim Cal Anderson’s trees and improve lighting to make the park safer and extending the area’s “Pollinator Pathway” infrastructure to connect to Cal Anderson.

Tuesday’s meeting starts at 6 PM in a 12th Ave Arts conference room if you want to stop by to support the applicants and check out the council’s prioritization vote. Three ideas will make it through with, believe it or not, the Mayor’s office holding the final decision based on feasibility.

Here are the ideas up for consideration around the East District and Capitol Hill:

  1. Cal Anderson Park — Lighting and tree trimming in the park
    Safety issues in Cal Anderson Park are a primary concern for the neighborhood. The Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce has been awarded a grant from the Office of Economic Development (OED) to fund a lighting plan for the Park. We have discussed the funding with Eric Freidli, Deputy Superintendent. Eric’s only caution was that community expectations around infrastructure projects remain realistic, given the amount of maintenance and infrastructure improvements in current Park planning. With that in mind, our intention in applying for this grant is to be helpful and proactive in this process. While the renovation of the Park completed in 2005/2006 was created w/ Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) standards, the past 10 years have shown that the landscaping and lighting plan could use further attention. Our goal is to spend 2015 thoroughly exploring the options for a safe, active, public space with lighting and landscaping improvements with monies from the OED grant and use the Neighborhood Streets and Parks grant monies, if awarded, to help implement that work.
    Continue reading