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New lights, lily pond fences coming to Volunteer Park

With one of the biggest projects to improve the park underway at the Seattle Asian Art Museum, some smaller improvements are also coming to important features of Capitol Hill’s Volunteer Park.

The community-driven Volunteer Park Trust has announced fundraising and planning are moving forward to improve the fencing around the park’s much-loved lily ponds as well as an upgrade of the park’s 40 street lamps.

Volunteer Park Trust’s Jeff Crandall tells CHS planning for the lily pond improvements began in 2010 as generations of Capitol Hill families have gone through the unfortunate experience of consoling soaking wet children who fell into one of the twin ponds near the park’s reservoir.

The new fences are not a response to the January 2017 accidental drowning death of Hill resident Amy Vanderbeck. “We’re very sorry about her death but we don’t have any information that this could have prevented what happened,” Crandall said.

Vanderbeck’s family, however, knows how easy it has been for rascally kids to jump into the ponds. Her sister told CHS that, in the weeks before her death, Vanderbeck had dealt with a sad and soaking wet kid who slipped into the pond on a family outing to the park. “She hated that pond,” the sister said.

The $46,000 project will replace the small wire fencing that has surrounded the ponds with a new sturdier, historically respectful barrier:

The Trust will replace this wire fencing with thoughtfully crafted, 30″ high, permanent, metal fencing running the circumference of both ponds. As we move forward with the project, we will get design approvals from Seattle Parks and Recreation and from Friends of Seattle’s Olmsted Parks.

To improve lighting throughout the park, the Volunteer Park Trust has also started planning on a $73,000 project to upgrade to LED bulbs and repaint the old light posts:

Volunteer Park’s 40 street lamps currently use inefficient sodium bulbs. Their decades-old lamp globes are dirty, damaged, and restrict too much light. The long-neglected lampposts are weathered. Peeling paint has left exposed metal on nearly all of the poles. Volunteer Park Trust is working in partnership with Seattle Parks & Recreation and Seattle Public Utilities to upgrade the lighting throughout Volunteer Park.

Capitol Hill’s Cal Anderson Park, meanwhile, is also being lined up for a major lighting upgrade.

Volunteer park

Meanwhile for Volunteer Park, it’s a busy period of improvements and maintenance for the more than 100-year-old public space. In February, patrons made their final visits before the Seattle Asian Art Museum temporarily shuttered for a $49 million upgrade project. Also coming up will be a new amphitheater and what could be a decade of projects to upgrade the park.

To learn more about the lily pond fencing and new lighting plan, visit the Volunteer Park Trust projects page.

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