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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.

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16 thoughts on “What should Capitol Hill’s first pavement park look like?

  1. planter boxes with trees would be good. seems like an interesting way to block of both ends of the street that will be the park. benches; as long as they are bolted to the street. given the number of bars in the area i can see some smart-ass coming along and moving anything not tied down or too heavy to budge.

    i’m sure this answer can likely be found at the april chcc meeting but, at what point, does this idea become permanent and we tear up the roadway, put up some curbs and make this an actual park; with actual grass?

    • We get into that a little bit here

      “The idea is that these are interim spaces that are down on the ground for about two years, and we select projects keeping in mind opportunities for what’s going to make them permanent,” McLaughlin said. “We don’t want them to become maintenance problems in the future. So we always have to think about what comes next, how does this become a permanent park, a permanent space that people can enjoy in the future.”

      McLaughlin said that the road to permanence is different for each site. The park at 9th and University, for example, is serving as a sort of placeholder while a grander scheme for a space contiguous with Freeway Park unfolds under Virginia Mason’s master plan.

    • Trees are important for carbon reduction. I agree that eventually there should at leas be some type of permeable foundation and real plants.

  2. Suggestion one: Don’t.
    Suggestion two: If you must, not that blue!
    I’ve been by a couple of these so-called parks and I have never seen a person using them. They were on quieter streets. To build this on a busy arterial? I’d rather see the money used on the long plan expansion of the Starbucks park and P-patch nearby.

    • I think it will get about as much use as a streatery/parklet….in other words, none.

      That is a very busy intersection, with lots of vehicle traffic. Why would anyone want to “hang out” there?

    • Was just in the First Hill one last week (and while I agree the blue is quite striking) there were three people sitting and reading in it.

  3. What’s the point of this if there is a new park one block away? I can see the point of this park if there was a great beer garden or something utilizing this space, but making park space for the sake of park space? I don’t think this is a wise use of our limited park funds.

    • It’s not park funds, as explained here, but SDOT funds. SDOT has allocated a relatively low amount of money for street activation like this. And I’d point out that there isn’t currently any park space between Olive Way, Pine Street, and Broadway with the exception of the community college. Every bit helps.

  4. I think any discretionary money needs to pave the roads which are in dismal shape. If we all have broken ankles, and compressed spines from cycling through all the potholes, how on earth can we enjoy a park?

  5. Portland has a better way of dealing with unwanted concrete, asphalt and pavement: I’ve long wished for a similar organization here. That being said, if the city won’t spend the money planting things in this space, they should pair it up with an adjoining restaurant and bar. A lot of people, myself included, appreciate the opportunity to eat (and drink, if possible) outside if it’s nice. Maybe they could also set up some kind of game to bring more life to a space that will otherwise be used. Ping pong would be awesome if the ball didn’t go into the street. Maybe foosball?

  6. The idea of hanging out on day-glo blue pavement sounds particularly awful to me. Why not grass? Why not tear the pavement up, plant some trees, put in some paths and wood benches… idk.

    The city has got to be more creative than painted asphalt.