Finally giving up on the grass, Tashkent Park celebrated as international symbol of goodwill

(Image: Tim Durkan with permission to CHS)

(Image: Tim Durkan with permission to CHS)

An international symbol of goodwill and a formerly worn down public space connecting some of the most densely populated blocks on the West Coast, Tashkent Park’s makeover was marked with a rededication celebration on Saturday featuring remarks from representatives of Seattle and its sister city, the park’s namesake, Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

The sister city relationship between Tashkent and Seattle was formed in 1973 and was the first Soviet and U.S. sister city agreement in the nation. Of Seattle’s 21 sister cities, Tashkent is one of the few to have a park dedicated to it.

Secretary Abdufarrukh Khavirov of the Uzbekistan Embassy in the U.S., said the park is a piece of his country in Seattle.

“It (is) a symbol of our friendship of our nations,” he said. Continue reading

Work to ‘pedestrianize’ E John near Summit Slope Park inches forward

If you have been eagerly waiting for work to start on the final section of Summit Slope Park, don’t get too excited by the arrival of work crews this week.

While the “East John Street Open Space Development” is seven years in the making, there is still some work to be done before the final piece of the park comes to fruition. Before the street is ripped up to extend the park into part of E John in January 2017, Seattle City Light is taking advantage of the timing by installing a new duct bank for electrical wiring and electrical vaults along the park. Continue reading

Homelessness, addiction, two deaths, a father’s search: how the human remains in Interlaken Park were found

The large cedar tree where LeBaron's son's body was found (Image: Jonathan LeBaron with permission to CHS)

The large cedar tree where LeBaron’s son’s body was found (Image: Jonathan LeBaron with permission to CHS)

Jon LeBaron with his sister. (Image courtesy of Jonathan LeBaron)

Jon LeBaron with his sister. (Image courtesy of Jonathan LeBaron)

A search through Capitol Hill’s Interlaken Park to the spot where his son’s body was discovered in the greenbelt’s wooded ravines led Jonathan LeBaron to another lost life. LeBaron found the human remains CHS reported on over the Labor Day holiday weekend while walking to a tall cedar tree inside the park, the site where the body of his son Jon LeBaron had been found by two people a few days earlier. Authorities are investigating not one set of human remains found in Interlaken in the weeks around Labor Day, but two.

“I think that place should be combed,” LeBaron tells CHS. “It was a needle in a haystack where I found that body.”

The discoveries underscore the epidemic of addiction and homelessness that continues to grow on Capitol Hill and the region despite the city’s renewed attempts to address it. They also illustrate a dilemma with Interlaken Park, loved for its wild terrain filled with tall trees and steep ravines — the same terrain that makes it an ideal place to camp undetected and nearly impossible for those overdosing or in need of help to be found. Continue reading

Volunteer Park’s Seattle Asian Art Museum shows designs for ‘park lobby’ expansion and overhaul

(Image: SAAM/LMN)

(Image: SAAM/LMN)

screen-shot-2016-09-11-at-7-01-43-amThe Seattle Art Museum presented its design for the upgrades and expansion of Volunteer Park’s Asian Art Museum in a community meeting held in the International District on Saturday morning. The design makes major changes to the east-facing “back” of the landmark 1933 building in Volunteer Park, featuring some floor-to-ceiling windows in levels one and two and a striking glass “park lobby” on level three of the extension.

The park lobby would allow people inside the museum a park view that includes an impressive beech tree, and allow people outside to look up at art displays inside the museum. Architect Sam Miller of LMN architects, the firm designing the upgrade and extension, explained the design goal of integrating the park on both sides with the museum space itself.

The rather sophisticated design is a complete change from the grey, utilitarian back of the museum as it is now, which looks unfinished and harsh in contrast to the pink stone and Beaux Arts Art Deco style of the front of the building. The upgrade could, as Miller suggested, achieve an added bonus of making the space behind the museum safer in that would be overlooked and less cutoff from the rest of the park.

As he talked through a slide show of the design (the full presentation is below), Miller stressed that it had been modified in keeping with feedback from the public — there were community meetings in July and August and future meetings are scheduled for October, November and December. The external stairway in an earlier draft is now inside of the building, and an extruding elevator is now tucked in and hiding behind a tree. Continue reading

Public path closed near Lowell Elementary where used needles repeatedly found


Fencing and no trespassing signs were installed on the path Friday morning. (Image: Alex Garland)


A sleeping bag and needles found near the path by members of the Lowell PTA. (Image: Susanna Mak)

Parents of Lowell Elementary students say a wooded public pathway that cuts through the Capitol Hill school grounds has long been used as a place for people to camp and inject drugs.

After months of parents calling on Seattle Public Schools to address the issue, the Seattle Department of Transportation fenced off the short trail on Friday. Crews also cleared trees and shrubs along the path at E Roy between Federal and 11th.

“From our point of view, the right of way must be permanently closed,” said
Suzanna Mak of the Lowell Elementary PTA.

According to Mak, used needles, condoms, and human waste are a common site on the path that winds between the school building and its playground. While the PTA has documented needles found on the site as early as this week, one neighbor tells CHS there has not been an encampment in the area for several years. Seattle Public School students return to school September 7th.

UPDATE: SDOT spokesperson Norm Mah said that after the city received complaints from the school district and PTA, SDOT decided to temporarily close off the path due to the “ongoing public health hazard” posed by discarded needles.

Once the temporary closure is in place, we will assess the situation and explore a number of long-term remedies with the objective of ensuring the safety needs of the elementary school while preserving the mobility needs of the neighborhood. We will work with all essential stakeholders on the longer-term resolution.

Continue reading

Plan would boost Seattle community centers: free programs in the CD, possible LGBTQ hub on Capitol Hill

A plan to address social equity by boosting Seattle’s community centers with “free or low-cost community-centric programs” will be part of Mayor Ed Murray’s 2017 budget proposal. If the money is approved, the Central District’s Garfield Community Center will have more free use and community programs while Capitol Hill’s Miller Community Center could be tabbed as an LGBTQ community hub.

“Seattle’s community centers are a vital piece of our parks and recreation system and we must ensure these spaces meet the needs of all residents across the city,” said Mayor Murray. “In my proposed 2017 budget, I will call for the expansion of community center hours, staffing and programming, and eliminate drop-in fees and make scholarships easier to attain. We must ensure that as we grow, we do so equitably, and our recreational spaces must be safe and accessible places for everyone.”

Part of the strategic plan announced this week calls for the creation of a “hub-centric” pilot program: Continue reading

CHS Pics | Deaf drama camp takes the stage at Volunteer Park

As plans come together for a new Volunteer Park amphitheater, the old one stays plenty busy hosting events big and small. Sunday, the venue hosted the 5th annual Vibrations music festival. Saturday, CHS found a smaller event underway as the kids from the Deaf Spotlight Drama Camp gathered in front of parents and loved ones to perform scenes and show off some of their new skills. After some on-stage drama, the kids described their process, a few awards were handed out, and, of course, proud audience members snapped some pictures. Continue reading

What the new Volunteer Park Amphitheater could look like

Screen Shot 2016-08-26 at 11.25.17 AM

One of the four concepts ready for feedback (Images: Ora Architects)

Replacing the no-frills brick-and-concrete Volunteer Park Amphitheater has been talked about for years. Thanks to a nonprofit championing the cause, the first design concepts are finally complete.

ORA Architects and Walker Macy Landscape Architects developed four concepts using feedback from the public and more than 30 performance organizations. All the designs include a shelter, backstage space, and bathrooms built into the structure as required by the city.

The Volunteer Park Trust is holding an open house at Miller Community Center on Wednesday to take public feedback on the designs. Construction is slated to start in 2017 with a grand opening scheduled for December 2018. The project will require approval from the parks department. Continue reading

And what the Seattle Asian Art Museum expansion could look like, too…

(Images: LMN Architects)

(Images: LMN Architects)

As Volunteer Park’s 83-year-old museum prepares to undergo its first major upgrade, the Seattle Art Museum is seeking public input on the plans. Community outreach meetings are scheduled for September and October.

Preliminary designs for the Asian Art Museum call for adding at least 7,500-square-feet of new gallery and event space, as well as an education studio and art storage space. A terrace, seat wall, and rock garden are part of the plans for outdoor improvements to the backside of the museum. Continue reading

What it’s like to run a community center on Capitol Hill

Williams outside the Miller Park facility (Image: CHS)

Williams outside the Miller Park facility (Image: CHS)

Johnnie Williams grew up in the Yesler Terrace neighborhood going to parks and participating in track and field. But it was something else altogether that put him in charge of a Capitol Hill community center. Leukemia.

It was when Williams was diagnosed that he decided to work for the Seattle Parks and Recreation Department. He has worked at three different centers since then, but currently he’s at Miller Community Center serving as the interim coordinator.

“I think growing up in parks has made me realize the need for community centers in our neighborhoods,” Williams said. “I think they’re very … beneficial because it keeps a lot of the younger youth out of trouble.” Continue reading

Advocate group looks for Capitol Hill support for more off-leash dog parks

(Image: City of Seattle)

(Image: City of Seattle)

The forecast this week calls for the dog days of summer, but dogs in Seattle don’t have many options for relief from the heat.

Dogs are only allowed to swim at Magnuson Park, which has 145 feet of shoreline.

Citizens for Off-Leash Areas, or COLA, wants to change that. The group wants more waterfront parks open to dogs and more off-leash options in general that are within walking distance of every dog owner. Organizers see it as much more than an issue of play and lakeside fun. COLA reps say resources for dog owners are a social justice issue in a city supposedly tackling equity issues across its neighborhoods. Meanwhile, Seattle’s population is set to soar to 750,000 by 2020. About one out of three of the new residents will bring dogs. Continue reading

If you thought the First Hill ‘street reading party’ was cool just wait for the First Hill ‘street petting zoo’


In July, First Hill held a street reading party in its pavement park. First Hill is charming!

Give densely packed — and packing higher — First Hill some public space and it will put it to great use. Earlier this summer, CHS stopped by a “street reading party” in the neighborhood’s UUB University, Union, and Boylston pavement park.

piglet-header3Next week: piglets. The First Hill Improvement Association has announced details of its next pavement park party… a petting zoo:

On Thursday, August 25th from 6:00- 8:00pm, FHIA is bringing the rural to the urban with a petting zoo in First Hill’s pavement park!

Join us at the University, Union and Boylston pavement park to behold (and hold) wonderful barnyard creatures. There will be piglets, bunnies, sheep, and many more animals for you to meet and Instagram! Most of the animals are rescues and cared for by Animal Encounters, who will bring the animals and set up a barnyard petting zoo right in the street.

The event will be free and open to the public, bring a neighbor and get ready for the cute overload.

For the safety of the animals, we ask that you please not bring your dogs to this event, no food is permitted, and folks with active colds/coughs should refrain from petting the animals.

Powered by a City of Seattle grant, the FHIA is also planning more park events including a bingo night and a movie night in September. More pictures of the reading party, below. Continue reading