City says Cal Anderson Independence Day Picnic canceled unless new organizers step forward

The 2015 picnic (Images: CHS)

The 2015 picnic (Images: CHS)

You will still be able to watch 4th of July fireworks from Capitol Hill — but, for the first time in 13 years, there might not be a free community picnic in Cal Anderson Park to celebrate the nation’s independence.

City of Seattle officials are looking for a solution after the picnic’s longtime community sponsor the Cal Anderson Park Alliance informed City Hall it would not be able to organize the 2016 edition of the event. The Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce was asked to take over the event, a city rep tells CHS, but declined.

IMG_9959-600x400According to a Seattle Parks representative, it’s not an issue of money to support the free community event that typically involves free hot dogs and root beer floats, music, and game booths. Here is what the fun looked like in 2015. Capitol Hill’s community groups are apparently tapped out on a much more valuable resource — human capital. Without volunteers available to organize the picnic, the 14th annual Cal Anderson Independence Day Picnic might not happen:

The annual Capitol Hill Independence Day Community Picnic is a signature July 4 event for Cal Anderson Park and the Capitol Hill community. Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) is committed to supporting positive and family-friendly activities at this park to help it continue to be a treasured resource for the community.

Because the long-standing community organization that has traditionally organized the community picnic is not in a position to do so for this year’s event, SPR is reaching out to the greater Capitol Hill community to invite participation that will allow the event to take place next month.

Anyone interested is invited to attend a meeting from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 7 at the Cal Anderson Park Shelterhouse, 1635 11th Ave. E, or contact SPR staff Randy Wiger at 206-684-0775

If enough volunteers step forward, both for the planning needed over the next four weeks and for the day of the event, SPR is willing to lead the planning effort, and believes that it is possible to hold an enjoyable 14th annual community picnic event.

Parks is hoping to find new energy to step in and help make the event happen as a celebration of the national holiday and also a celebration of Capitol Hill’s busy central park. Officials are planning a community meeting next week to look for a solution — and, hopefully, find some of that much needed human capital needed to pull the 2016 picnic together.

Community meeting for 2016 Capitol Hill Independence Day Community Picnic planning
Date: Tuesday, June 7.
Time: 6 to 7:30 p.m.
Location: Cal Anderson Park Shelterhouse, 1635 11th Ave. E.

CHCC-CleanSweep-2016-smUPDATE: Don’t forget, you can also help make Cal Anderson great at Sunday’s Clean Sweep 2016: “Volunteers gather at Cal Anderson Park at 10am for coffee & pastries sponsored by our local Starbucks! We’ll give you a stylish ‘I Am Capitol Hill’ t-shirt and all the supplies you’ll need before dispersing teams to scrub the streets.” The annual Pride event marks the start of a month of celebration and events across the Hill.

Lusio to add night of light art to Volunteer Park’s summer event roster

No need to wait for July -- Volunteer Park's summer season is already in motion. This weekend, Parke Diem returns, Saturday, June 4th noon to 7 PM:

No need to wait for July — Volunteer Park’s summer season is already in motion. This weekend, Parke Diem returns, Saturday, June 4th noon to 7 PM:oin us for a day of free, family-friendly fun in the sun! This will be the 6th edition of our park event and we’re so excited to be back at Volunteer Park for another summer kick off!

The date planned for Lusio — a celebration of light art planned for Volunteer Park this summer — was no accident.

It should be one of the darkest nights of the year.

Creator Mollie Bryan has already secured the permit and now she is looking to add more visual and musical artists to help transform Volunteer Park into a light art venue for the first ever festival planned for July 30th. You can help support the free event by donating here:

As the sun sets on July 30, Volunteer Park will slowly come to life and “awaken” with light and sound. Local artists will install and project multiple light installations all over the park for you to explore.The live ambient showcase from the Vancouver BC label, Silent Season, will orchestrate the entire event with beautiful, deep, natural sounds to delight the auditory senses. Visuals will be projected onto the amphitheater wall . Local artists brought in from all over to delight you with their craft.

Bryan’s FnS production company is also looking for artists to be part of Lusio. Continue reading

Proposal would allow dogs to roam free in Cal Anderson Park

Dog parks inspire a special kind of divisiveness within Seattle’s civic skirmishes. With limited public park space, opponents of expanding off-leash areas say human activities should get top priority in park planning. Off-leash supporters say their interests deserve equal consideration.

Nevertheless, dogs are here to stay and Seattle Parks and Recreation is working on a plan to determine how best to accommodate them. Seattle’s canine population has reached an estimated 150,000 with no signs of slowing. The city is now reviewing its 19-year-old policy governing dog parks and considering some new ideas, including adding unfenced, off-leash areas inside public parks.

The idea is backed by Citizens for Off-Leash Areas, who say parks like Cal Anderson could implement the policy already working in other cities. “Dog owners are being pushed into scofflaws because they don’t have options,” said COLA executive director Cole Eckerman.

According to Eckerman, allowing dogs to be off-leash during certain times of the day at certain parks could reduce dog bites by increasing opportunities for exercise, create legal solutions to accommodate the city’s growing dog population, and yes, even deter nighttime crime. Eckerman also said allowing “multi-use” dog areas is an equity issue as many lower income neighborhoods lack traditional off-leash areas.

Portland has 24 unfenced, off-leash areas which are restricted to certain areas and times — a model COLA says could be replicated in Seattle. Typically, new dog parks are first piloted by the parks department and then approved by the City Council. Dewey Potter, the parks department’s unofficial off-leash expert, said a similar process would likely be used if the city decides to move ahead with unfenced dog areas. It’s unclear how many dog parks or off-leash areas Seattle could add in the near future, Potter said.

Seattle currently has 28 acres of fenced off-leash areas spread across 14 parks, including around Capitol Hill at Plymouth Pillars Park and the I-5 Colonnade. City policy recommends placing new dog parks away from playgrounds or adjacent to residential properties, which could be difficult to maintain if the city allows dogs to roam in unfenced areas.

Some of those criteria were actually developed in response to Seattle’s early experiments with off leash areas on Capitol Hill. In the late 1990s the parks department piloted two dog parks in Volunteer Park. One was scrapped because it was too muddy while the other received too many complaints from nearby homeowners.

The city’s dog parks report will not include any specific site recommendations, Potter said, but it will offer some suggestions for how to better accommodate dog owners as demand for all types of park space continues to grow.

Other recommendations include how to improve existing dog parks. The parks department plans to release its report June 11th at a date to be determined.

Images courtesy

How about a 3D ‘pop-up’ maze for Capitol Hill’s Summit pavement park?


Something like this on Summit? (Image:

The City of Seattle has crunched the numbers and processed the feedback for Capitol Hill’s first Pavement to Parks project. According to the Seattle Department of Transportation planner working on the project, this is what City Hall heard about the opportunity to claim 3,000 square feet of Summit Ave between Denny and Olive for community use beyond parking and driving:

  • The results from this survey indicated significant interest in providing seating and natural elements in the new public space.
  • Several people also suggested painting a ground plane mural on the street that would celebrate Capitol Hill’s arts culture. The idea of an interactive maze (similar to the new painting at Seattle Center) received strong support from the respondents.
  • Based on these results, we discussed creating a 3D pop-up maze that could include benches and planters integrated with a painted maze on the street surface

According to an email sent to representatives of community groups working on the project, the city is thinking about holding “a maze mural competition in the neighborhood to involve the local artists in the design of space” and holding a vote to select a favorite design. The vote will likely take place during the July 14th Capitol Hill Art Walk.

According to the email, SDOT will reach out to “adjacent businesses and property owners” about the project.

Grant will help neighborhood ‘create a new future’ for First Hill Park

Last August, First Hill Park hosted a party for the neighborhood's dogs (Image: CHS)

Last August, First Hill Park hosted a party for the neighborhood’s dogs (Image: CHS)

With the neighborhood’s successful pavement parks being held up as examples for similar projects on Capitol Hill and beyond, First Hill is also looking at how to improve its 0.2-acre city park adjacent Stimson-Green Mansion.

unnamed (11)Opened in 1978, First Hill Park is at the start of a community-driven makeover that begins with a grant-driven planning process starting in the University St. green space next Tuesday night:

The goal of this project is to come together as a community so we may understand priorities, develop a vision, and create concept designs toward making First Hill Park a safe and active open space for all.

Join us at First Hill Park (Minor & University) at 6:00pm on Tuesday May 24th for the first in a series of public workshops to gather ideas, priorities, and aspirations for our neighborhood park.

Our design team at SiteWorkshop will be facilitating this workshop, which is an open house style meeting with a short presentation at 6:15pm. The meeting is free and open to the public. Your voice is critical to developing the best possible plan, so bring a neighbor and come by for as long as you can!

For more information contact FHIA Director Alex Hudson at We hope to see you there!

$25,000 in funding from the Department of Neighborhood will power the process to collect community feedback and shape a concept design for First Hill Park. A summer of park meetings is slated to follow next Tuesday night’s kick-off.

You can learn more at

The water in the Cal Anderson duck pool was not red (but the algae was)

Work crews were at Capitol Hill’s Cal Anderson Park Tuesday afternoon to solve a problem. It turns out the water in the park’s reflection pool — or duck pool, as we called it — was’t red. But the algae sitting on the bottom of the pool is.

Or was. Seattle Parks tells us the crew at the pool Tuesday was working to drain the pool with a special pump rented just for the job. The spokesperson said the department hopes to have the reflection pool drained, cleaned, and refilled by the end of the week.

Meanwhile, the water mountain fountain that has been dry over the past weeks should be spouting again by Memorial Day. Continue reading

Cal Anderson’s Bobby Morris ‘rubber crumb’ turf to be replaced by new cork alternative

Bobby Morris Playfield, Capitol Hill, Seattle

Capitol Hill’s sunbathing center — and a popular sports field for youth teams, adult leagues, pick-up, and the occasional prom dress rugby match — will get a playing surface this summer underlaid with a new test replacement for the maligned “crumb rubber” used to pad artificial turf fields around the world:

The project is located at Bobby Morris Playfield – a part of Cal Anderson Park in the Capital Hill neighborhood. The project consists of the following elements of work but is not limited to: Removal and disposal of existing infilled synthetic turf surface and replacement with a new synthetic turf system consisting of a 25mm paved-in-place elastic layer and 2.25” fiber length FieldTurf Classic synthetic turf with PureFill (1.7lb/sf Cork and 4.5lb/sf sand infill. Project will also require provision of inlaid baseball, softball and soccer markings and installation and maintenance of temporary erosion and sedimentation controls.

The $1 million project is going out to bid now with plans to quickly put a contractor in place for the six to seven week project to rip away the existing coverage in Bobby Morris and install the new turf and cork and sand infill. Seattle Parks officials plan to have the new turf in place by mid-July. In the meantime, you’ll see Bobby Morris fenced off and closed once the work begins.

UPDATE: The work comes at busy time for the park. Seattle PrideFest is slated for June 25th in Cal Anderson with Trans* Pride taking place in and around the park on Friday, June 24th. We’re checking to see if organizers are aware of the turf work schedule.

Crumb rubber fields have come under increasing scrutiny over health concerns that the recycled tires used as infill could be contaminating the fields. Three federal agencies are now studying whether the crumb rubber fields are exposing people to dangerous chemicals. The move by Seattle Parks to find an alternative is a proactive effort to get ahead of the concerns.



“We hope that it’s just as playable and durable and meets safety requirements,” project manager Jay Rood tells CHS about the alternative being tried at Bobby Morris for the first time in Seattle. If the new cork and sand fill works out, Rood said the pilot program will be extended to artificial turf fields across the city, the workhorses of the parks system providing millions of hours of public use by Rood’s estimation.

Rood said Seattle Parks also looked at alternatives involving material like coconut husks, a mineral-like sand, and a synthetic material but ultimately went with the new cork product after visits from several manufacturers who visited Seattle to pitch their creations. While Parks wants to find a dependable alternative, new health concerns aren’t driving the schedule to upgrade to Bobby Morris. The current turf was installed a decade ago and is overdue for replacement, Rood said.

Lighter in color and form, the cork fill could also have a side benefit perfect for the warm evening hangout that Bobby Morris becomes every spring and summer. Rood said the new fill is nice for soccer, etc. — but it also should be more comfortable to sit on.

A playful idea for Capitol Hill’s first pavement park

Summit Denny Meeting Boards.pg3An element of puzzling and play and lessons from the first pavement parks on First Hill could be part of the design for a new open space along E Olive Way after a community brainstorm on the project last week.

At Thursday’s Capitol Hill Community Council meeting, the Seattle Department of Transportation invited the public to contribute ideas for a new Pavement to Park project at Summit and Denny.

Among design ideas floated at the meeting were interactive features — perhaps a painted maze, like the one at the new Seattle Center playground. The Pronto bike racks currently housed on that stretch of Summit will remain, but could be moved as a block or split in two to form traffic edges. Coming up, the city will hold a community event at the park’s location to show off a design concept and gather more feedback. Continue reading

What should Capitol Hill’s first pavement park look like?

A successful program to transform areas of underutilized pavement into public spaces is spreading from its First Hill test parks across Seattle. The odd little stub of Summit between E Olive Way and E Denny Way is in line to be Capitol Hill’s first pavement park. What should it look like?

Thursday at the April meeting of the Capitol Hill Community Council, you can help start to shape the project:

The City is turning pavement at Summit & Denny into a park! And we need your help to decide what should go there. Bring your ideas to the April meeting of the Capitol Hill Community Council.

Learn more at:

We’ll also be talking about walkability and safe streets on Capitol Hill. Share your stories and concerns so we can prioritize the Community Council’s work in the coming months.

(Image: SDOT)

(Image: SDOT)

According to the Central Seattle Greenways group, the base set of changes for the short stretch include removing parking but keeping the Seattle bike share Pronto station at the site. “This one-way segment serves only as a cut-through for traffic coming off Denny or Summit, and creates more potential for pedestrian conflict when there are already several busy streets coming together in the area,” the group notes.

The city is planning to roll out around four pavement park projects this year at a cost of around $50,000 to $70,000 each. CHS reported here on a study that looked at the first pavement park projects on First Hill, including “a colorful Mediterranean-style plaza that had replaced a dingy and utterly confusing semi-triangular intersection” at University, Union, and Boylston last summer.

The planned Summit park, by the way, is just up the road from Capitol Hill’s first streatery in front of the Montana bar on E Olive Way. The city’s parklet and streatery program continues though the rate of new projects has slowed to a near stop. Here’s where the most recent Hill-area parklets and streateries were being planned.

In its study of the First Hill sites, observations recorded sitting and hanging out as the most common uses, naturally, with only a couple people using the space as a smoking lounge. Among needs identified, the First Hill spaces could benefit from more frequent garbage pick-up, a variety of seating options, and a better pedestrian experience near the spaces.

So, what should the Summit park feature? We’re hoping for a tad bit more than what this new space in Ballard ended up with. According to the Seattle Department of Transportation’s Pavement to Parks Overview page, the projects are wide open to community guidance but require a “maintenance agreement” with a “community host” group to keep the area clean and safe. Also, because the projects are still in the pilot phase, the changes must be of a temporary nature meaning elements that can easily be removed or repainted. SDOT will also look at user and pedestrian surveys, and traffic data to evaluate how the park is performing.

The Capitol Hill Community Council will host a discussion of the Summit pavement park as part of the agenda at its monthly meeting, Thursday, April 24th starting at 6:30 PM at the 12th Ave Arts building, 1620 12th Ave.

You can Netflix and Chill in Volunteer Park whenever you want (but July 9th event is bunk)

12993572_996744510417136_8643009139894569224_nSorry, incredulous hacks, you’ve been had. As part of what is apparently a global marketing scheme that cost the company a marketing “director” salary to dream up, a series of Netlfix and Chill movie events have been announced in parks and plazas around the world this summer — including Capitol Hill’s Volunteer Park this July:

We celebrate the launch of the [Dumb App Name] app in Seattle ( and are transforming the Volunteer Park into the largest free open air movie theater the city has ever seen. Take your partners, bring your friends, pack your favorite snacks and grandma’s picnic blanket and enjoy the best movies and series on Netflix with hundreds of other people. Line-up voting’s gonna follow.

[Redactions] are CHS’s.

The Facebook invite for the Seattle event has, of course, spread like Volunteer Park lawn daisies over the weekend and at least one local media outlet, of course, has already jumped on the story with more concern about making sure you know what Netflix and Chill means than whether they are mindlessly promoting Dumb App Name. Of course.

But Seattle Parks tells CHS the event is not happening because organizers have not applied for the necessary permits.

Still, with a solid wireless plan — and a good friend — you can Netflix and Chill in Volunteer Park anytime you like.

Meanwhile, Capitol Hill’s slate of outdoor summer movies will again return in 2016 thanks to Three Dollar Bill Cinema (seen here!) and the Seattle Art Museum (seen here!). Not Dumb App Name.

2013: Gamera and Chill in Volunteer Park

2013: Gamera and Chill in Volunteer Park