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Volunteer Park wade pool not going away but lots of change planned in $800k playground upgrade

The original Olmstead layout (Images: Seattle Parks)

With the first day of summer arriving, CHS would like to crush a nasty rumor floating around Volunteer Park’s playground. The 100-year-old-plus Volunteer Park wading pool is not going away. This and a growing list of community wants (which you can add to via a survey, below) and Seattle Parks needs have been part of the public process unfolding around the planned $800,000 overhaul of the Volunteer Park playground slated to begin sometime next summer.

“There are currently no plans to change the pool to a spray-park,” planner Emily Fuller tells CHS. “We’re going to provide better access to it between the play area and the pool.”


By the way, if you’d like to get a jump start on celebrating that decision, the wading pool season opens its spigot for the first time at Volunteer Park this Saturday. The pool is operated from noon to 8 PM every day through September 5.

Next Meeting: Wednesday July 13, 20114 – 6 p.m.

Meeting Location:
Volunteer Park Play Area Near the entrance at 15th Avenue E and E Galer Street

Provide feedback: Take the survey
Project page

We reported this spring about the Seattle Parks Levy-backed project to replace the 20-year-old playground equipment in the park. The current Parks plan calls for a start of construction in summer 2012 — a plan that has already drawn criticism from the community regarding the possibility of shuttering the play area during the summer months. Parks hasn’t decided on the official schedule yet but summer work will need to be part of the plan. Planners say they are looking at options that might make elements like the wading pool accessible during parts of summer 2012.

While we’re talking Parks construction closures, a reminder that the two-month Bobby Morris lighting overhaul is scheduled to begin this week. We’re checking with Parks for the specifics but expect the field to be unavailable through the rest of summer. In the meantime, the fences are still up for the Cal Anderson turf repair project. Last update from Parks said their goal was to get the fences down by the second week of July.

UPDATE: Here’s an update from Parks on the Bobby Morris work:

Parks is currently working to confirm a Notice to Proceed date with the contractor. Once this is established Parks will be able to post a confirmed closure date for the field which will be next week at the earliest. As noted in the project information, the publicized closure is a target window and we are not able to schedule events during this window.

Construction fencing will be put in place just around the field. The basketball court and tennis courts will remain open.

The play area through the years (Image: Seattle Parks)

Fuller continues to collect community feedback following a June meeting where neighbors and playground fans brought their ideas and concerns about the playground overhaul to share with Seattle Parks. Notes from those sessions and materials from the Seattle Parks analysis of the playground’s issues and potential are below. Fuller is also looking for additional feedback on the community’s playground priorities. What’s more important? Slides or a climbing wall? What new elements do you want? A musical play area? Rentable picnic tables. You can weigh in by taking the Parks survey here http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/NDW7RDB

Fuller says Park will compile the information from the survey and the comments collected at the June meeting to form play area concepts for the renovation and present them at the next meeting on July 13 held at the playground.

And, again, the wading pool isn’t going anywhere. But here are some elements that will need to change:

You can view a larger version in the attached “Existing Conditions” document.

The Parks analysis has determined that, while everything in the playground has held up relatively well in the 20 years since it was installed, there are three main issues — including one giant category of “something wrong with almost every component — that are forcing this $800,000 allocation:

  • The play equipment is far out of compliance with current safety standards.  
  • There is no accessibility for children with disabilities or for parents with disabilities, which is now required by Federal Law. There is no accessibility to the whole area  around the wading pool and play area, there is no accessibility to parking or restrooms, wheel chairs can’t get into the play area and the equipment isn’t useable if you could get in. There aren’t any transfer stations for kids to get on the equipment and the stairs are too high for kids with limitations on how high they can lift their feet. 
  • There is something wrong with almost every component of the equipment. The handrails are out of safety compliance, the wood decks are deteriorating; the metal connections and attachments are rusting; the paint on the posts is peeling; the ball bearings on the track ride are shot; the bridge has roofing paper tacked to it because the wood was so slippery; the wood panels on the tot structure are rotted, two swings have been removed to meet safety standards, the slides are missing safety features, and the beams above the gazebo need replacing. These things can’t be fixed. 

Below are the notes compiled by Parks from the June public meeting that kicked off the public feedback process:

meeting_notes_2011-06-01

We’ve also included a look at some other recent Seattle Parks projects “nature play” and “plaza spaces” designs for an idea of what some of the new elements in Volunteer Park might look like:

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Pamela Alspaugh
Pamela Alspaugh
9 years ago

Thank you for the great write up. We are very excited about this project! If your readers have any design ideas they would like to share, please have them contact me at pamela.alspaugh.gov. If they have any general comments they can contact Emily at emily.fuller.gov. Thanks
Pamela Alspaugh
Sr. Landscape Architect
Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation
800 Maynard Ave S, 3rd FL
Seattle, WA 98134
206-684-7328

foy boy
foy boy
9 years ago

So the city builds this park 20 years ago and now its no good anymore. With this remodel will they then again do it so will have to spend a million in 10 years to fix it again? What ever happen to maintence? Will all the rulls on what parks should be change again in ten years and the tax payers will have to cough it up again. It sounds like lets build a problem then years from now will fix it and will look good in the voters eyes.

park2
park2
9 years ago

So in your world nothing can ever change once it is built?

boo to your plans
boo to your plans
9 years ago

What a bunch of snobs. I grew up playing in the old park before this one and the current one is just fine. It’s one of the most unique in the city and fun for kids to play at and children have a great time there. All you have to do is WATCH your kids. Maybe a 20 mo-old shouldn’t be up on the walk? Stroller access comments are laughable as most of you have your ‘bob’ strollers and if you don’t you can pick up your stroller and move it. The slides are awesome and I can’t believe they will be removed – hot 3 weeks out of the year- jeezus! God forbid you and your kids get muddy running from the pool to the park. I think this is a case of a park surrounded by million-dollar homes and people with too much pull. Please just leave the old growth trees they were there long before you.

booboo
booboo
9 years ago

Did you also walk uphill in a snowstorm both ways from school?

LizWas
LizWas
9 years ago

Did you even read the explanation? It’s not a matter of, “This isn’t nice enough equipment for our kids,” it’s a matter of, “This equipment is no longer legal or safe.”

Many people don’t seem to understand how expensive ALL civic and parks projects are. $800k is a drop in the bucket. How many millions were spent capping off the reservoir at Cal Anderson and putting in all the new sidewalks, play equipment, fountain, etc? These things involve so much city infrastructure that it’s impossible to do it for less money. The long term benefit for the community will be worth the investment.

I’m grateful that this article explained they’re not just putting in $800k of new playground equipment. There are accessibility issues, sidewalks, and other site planning that needs to happen – and all of that is very expensive.

I hope they can figure out a way to keep at least the wading pool open during construction next summer.

calhoun
calhoun
9 years ago

The Parks Dept and others can spin this all they want, but I still think $800,000 is way too much to spend on this project. It was only a few years ago that the entire roadway adjacent to the area, from 15th to the top of the hill, was completely rebuilt, at considerable cost, and one of the stated goals then was to improve access for the disabled to the wading pool and play area. As`a result, there is now a disabled ramp from the street level, and it leads on to paved pathways to both areas. What additional accessibility is needed? If some safety improvements are really necessary, it seems like this could be done for alot less money. But of course the obvious question is: Have any kids actually been injured there as a result of unsafe structures?

In contrast to this expensive project, there have been layoffs and mandatory furloughs for Parks Dept. staff, and the Conservatory is in financial difficulty. Something is not right here.