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Cal Anderson Park ‘reopens’

(Image: Matt Mitgang)

New signs have gone up around Cal Anderson Park announcing that the space is again open to the public. Some new signage spells out the “NO CAMPING” restrictions in the park and provides a roster of “local resources” including information on hygiene facilities and available library bathrooms as well as information on how to connect with housing and shelter referrals.

Neighbors around the park say the signs are new as of Wednesday.

The park has been officially closed since the CHOP occupied protest was raided and cleared in July — though it has remained in use by strolling neighbors and dog owners throughout and even as the space remained a center of protest and encampments through 2020.

In its announcement of the reopening, Seattle Parks says “more activities, maintenance, and services” are planned for Cal Anderson in 2021.

Police gather near a “community conversation + vision” sign during last Friday’s weep (Image: Matt Mitgang)

CHS reported Tuesday on the modest first steps being planned to help address public safety and help provide more homelessness resources at the park.

The reopening comes five days after Friday’s SPD and Seattle Parks sweep of Cal Anderson to clear encampments, and the city said, address public safety issues around the park.

CAL ANDERSON SWEEP COVERAGE

Tensions about who was being allowed to enter the park in the days following the sweep played out on the Bobby Morris sports field Tuesday night as protesters organized another “antifa soccer” match. This time, there were no arrests.

(Image: Matt Mitgang)

In its announcement, Seattle Parks said it has “conducted a surge in maintenance since last Friday to address backlogs in grounds maintenance, building repair, graffiti removal, and litter pick-up including the removal of 100 tons of debris such as large pallets and furniture.”

Parks says work will continue and some areas of the park including the bathrooms and the shelter house, still need “substantial repair work.”

A priority for some neighbors in the area is park lighting. Many of the park’s globe lights have been damaged while others have gone dark leaving areas of the park and sidewalk in pitch blackness at night.

Officials say they decided to open the park while work and “significant repair and restoration” continues “in order to provide the community with access to the park as soon as possible.”

Efforts to “activate” the park shaped by recent community discussions will also follow. CHS reported here the community design sessions formed in the wake of the CHOP occupied protest clearance this summer. Friday, participants said a previously scheduled teleconference to discuss the efforts to add activities in the park went on as planned despite that morning’s sweep. But the city says that Friday session might be the last it participates in. The next meeting of the group is “TBD,” a parks representative said, as is the parks department’s “role in the future meetings.”

Here is the full announcement from Seattle Parks:

Seattle Parks and Recreation Reopens Cal Anderson Park

Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) announced that Cal Anderson Park reopened on Wednesday, December 23 with more activities, maintenance, and services planned for 2021. SPR and other City departments have worked with community members to identify next steps and to develop a plan for key changes within the Capitol Hill neighborhood to create a safe and welcoming environment for all including ongoing outreach for individuals experiencing homelessness on Capitol Hill. Beginning this week, SPR will also begin to bring new activation activities to the park.  

Several City departments have been engaging with community, business owners, and neighbors to re-envision this park and the surrounding blocks to be safer, more welcoming and inclusive, and to honor the protests that took place here. SPR will be announcing additional engagement in early January to provide additional feedback and suggestions on what community members would like to see at Cal Anderson. Please check SPR’s website (http://www.seattle.gov/parks/) for updates on the meeting and how to join.    

“Cal Anderson Park has been an epicenter for activism and social justice movements for decades and is the heart of the Capitol Hill community. As we move into 2021, Cal Anderson will continue to be a hub for the entire community —neighbors and park visitors alike,” said Mayor Jenny Durkan. “As we reopen the park, the community and the City will continue its ongoing conversation to provide services to those who are unhoused, create new ongoing activities to support diverse community needs, increase safety, and restore the vibrancy and inclusivity of the Capitol Hill neighborhood.” 

“During the pandemic, access to outdoor space and recreation activities has been more important than ever for the physical and mental wellbeing of so many in our community. The reopening of Cal Anderson Park restores essential open space in this dense and vibrant neighborhood,” said Superintendent Jesús Aguirre. “Starting this week, we will begin offering new recreation activities at the park. These activities are just the beginning and we look forward to continuing to work with the community to build on these efforts to support a more inclusive park that reflects community needs and desires for this important gathering space.”  

Prior to the park reopening, SPR crews had conducted a surge in maintenance since last Friday to address backlogs in grounds maintenance, building repair, graffiti removal, and litter pick-up including the removal of 100 tons of debris such as large pallets and furniture. Maintenance and repair work will continue and some areas of the park, including two of the comfort stations and the shelter house, still need substantial repair work. SPR decided to open the park while we continue to do significant repair and restoration work in order to provide the community with access to the park as soon as possible.   

Since Friday, City-funded outreach providers, like REACH, Urban League, and LEAD, have been engaging existing or potential clients in and around the park, resulting in 12 referrals to hotels and shelter. Outreach workers engaged people around the park on Monday and this work will be ongoing in the Capitol Hill area. In recent weeks, providers reported 51 individuals were connected to safe places from the Cal Anderson Park area – including hotels, tiny homes, and shelter beds.   

SPR looks forward to collaborating with community and the Cal Anderson Park Alliance to determine next steps on bringing about programs and activities around community needs and values. As this work continues, SPR is set to begin initial activation activities in the park starting this week, such as setting up ping pong tables and outdoor dining areas, as well as creating a scavenger hunt for kids and a map for walking loops around the park and the surrounding neighborhood in order to encourage folks to explore our parks while following social distancing and masking guidelines. Please visit SPR’s blog (https://parkways.seattle.gov/) for updates on park activities. During the pandemic, all activation activities will follow COVID-19 public health guidelines, and we ask that anyone visiting parks or play areas use a face covering, practice social distancing, and wash hands frequently.    

In service of longer-range community values and desires for the park, community engagement and planning efforts will continue around restoring current art, bringing in new art, restoring the fountain and other historic features of the park, partnering to pilot a garden, and more.  

For information on how community and neighbors can participate and contribute to these efforts at Cal Anderson please visit the Cal Anderson webpage


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Chris
Chris
24 days ago

Any word about Miller Park? Predictably, a lot of people from Cal Anderson have migrated to Miller.

Fairly Obvious
Fairly Obvious
23 days ago
Reply to  Chris

Gosh! And here I thought giving the homeless no recourse and then dislodging them would solve the problem!

CD Neighbor
CD Neighbor
22 days ago
Reply to  Fairly Obvious

Giving people no recourse… right.

So you are saying the city is lying that nearly all of the people at Cal Anderson were given some sort alternative to living in tent in a park then?

I sure hope that more people are getting fed up with homeless “advocates” who think that it’s somehow the best thing for everyone, the homeless and the community to allow people, many if not most of whom have serious problems with substance abuse and/or mental health issues, to continue to choose to slowly kill themselves in our public spaces.

Personally I want the city to spend more money – but NOT on programs that just enable people to merely survive in this inhumane manner. I know we’re not there right now, but I want to see a day when sleeping on the streets is not a option.

PaulPopper
PaulPopper
17 days ago
Reply to  CD Neighbor

Yes, the city routinely lies about giving homeless people a housing option.

CD Neighbor
CD Neighbor
16 days ago
Reply to  PaulPopper

Sorry – but I believe the city over some random person…. especially as I have seen first hand how the activist community bends reality on a regular basis.

I especially liked how one person was claiming that the Cal Anderson sweep was performed with only 15 min of notice – Egad, that sound horrible doesn’t it – except that it’s completely untrue. The people there were given 3 days notice (which turned into 4) to leave a closed area on which they were already trespassing, during which socials services was there each day working with the people to get them into some sort of alternative accommodation… Then finally at the delayed deadline, when they hadn’t all actually left the police showed up and did indeed announce the final warning that the sweep would begin in 15 min. and this was the last chance to leave.

Lee
Lee
24 days ago

Good! I hope the park can remain open and safe for everyone. And that those who need help get the support they need and hope for.

Dan
Dan
24 days ago

Great! If the park is open, does that mean they have provided portable toilets to use until they reopen the bathroom?

Jeiefie Eoineoina
Jeiefie Eoineoina
24 days ago

I live four blocks from Cal Anderson and there is a small park near me called Broadway Hill Park – and guess where some of the people took their tents to? You got it, Broadway Hill Park. As of this morning there are three tents – two small ones and one huge one with all kinds of trash around it. It looks like someone emptied a garbage bin and spread it around the tent. The person inside is in his mid 20’s, tall and appears completely sane and active – I sometimes see him juggling outside of his tent, or doing push ups. His tent is on the corner of Federal Ave East and East Republican – several blocks East of the Broadway QFC. And yes, of course there a plenty of used needles around as well. And rats. I forgot to mention the amount of rats that run around these tents and the park. Lovely, eh?

Last week I was walking by the park at night and saw an inhabitant of one of the tents (green one) standing next to his tent going to the bathroom – yes #2. Right there on the grass. The new guy with the largest tent leaves wrappers, odd bits of metal and construction items (?), tons of trash – and he leaves is spread all around outside of his tent and is now gathering trash (yes, real trash from the bin) and spreading it out over the grass.

This was a great park, used by the neighborhood. The children who played there daily have been chased out. No one can go sit on the benches and read (they are covered with trash or someone sleeping under a tarp). During COVID and the shutdown we NEED outdoor spaces to congregate and Broadway Hill Park has (up until last month) been a great, safe place for people of all ages to gather. Now? Now it’s a dangerous dump.

Homelessness is complex. There is a lot of nuance required to understand it. Some people are homeless due to medical bills or a divorce. Others because they live check-to-check and lost their job. A huge number of the homeless (the hip saying now is “houseless”) are affected by addiction to serious/hard drugs and/or alcohol. As I said, it’s complex and there is not one single reason people are homeless, nor is there one single solution. That being said, we can’t let homeless squatters hold our neighborhood hostage. No one says anything to them – and they are getting away with complete destruction of our little park – again, they hold us hostage.

Kendall
Kendall
24 days ago

I hear your frustration. I hear you saying “we can’t let this happen,” and “no one says anything to them.” If this is inhibiting you and your neighbor’s use of the park can you talk with these individuals and request that they steward the space in a way that is more acceptable for all? Like it or not these people are your neighbors too and neighbors have to talk out disagreements and compromise.

Bob
Bob
24 days ago

The degree to which you seem to be surveilling these people is incredibly disturbing. What do you hope to achieve with this comment? Appears you are more *bored* than concerned with you fellow human beings. It is actually people like you, who like to complain from a place of privilege instead of lifting a finger to help those in need, that hold the rest of this city hostage. Either support immediate housing programs for everyone in this city or keep your asinine class prejudice to yourself.

SeattleCitizen
SeattleCitizen
24 days ago
Reply to  Bob

Oh yeah. It is privilege to not strew about garbage and needles. It is really hard to fathom the level of enablement and victim blaming here. A person daring to complain that our park has been functionally stolen by one individual who is breaking basic laws by camping and trashing the place. Amazing.

Patty
Patty
23 days ago
Reply to  Bob

“the degree to which you seem to be surveilling these people is disturbing?”

Uhhhhhh. You do know we have Covid so most people are sitting in their apartments, right? Looking out the window and noting criminal activity feels like a natural event. Think about life before just reacting with knee jerk comments please.

Karl Liebknecht
Karl Liebknecht
22 days ago
Reply to  Bob

Oh, Bob. Bob, Bob, Bob…

caphiller
caphiller
24 days ago

I really sympathize with this. I live near Tashkent Park, which in the last few weeks has seen a few tents pop up. I haven’t seen any trash, drug use or unsanitary behavior at Tashkent, but I’m worried it’s just a matter of time.

Eddddddd
Eddddddd
23 days ago
Reply to  caphiller

I don’t spend much time there anymore, but there is definitely an off and on drug use problem there.

About 2 years ago I remember going to sit at one of the tables there and seeing used needles scattered about. I kicked them under the table into a pile so it would be less likely to step on them.

Around that time a father and his two children came into the park, and the children were running around playing on the grass, so I had to go over and tell him I’d just found a bunch of needles and they should probably watch out for that!

RWK
RWK
23 days ago

Thank you for your comment documenting the problem at Broadway Hill Park. It’s a small park, so just a few tents/trash have a big impact on its useability for others.

I hope that the City will now do what they have recently done at Cal Anderson, and move out (ideally to indoor housing) those who are camping at Broadway Hill, Miller, and 15th/John parks. There is no reason why these areas should not be dealt with too….the issue is the same, that is the illegal occupation of public parks by those who trash them in the process.

Karl Liebknecht
Karl Liebknecht
22 days ago

What you are witnessing/experiencing is abnormal and no amount of gaslighting by enablers of this civic degradation should cause you to believe otherwise. The fact you still have empathy for the campers and maintain a nuanced perspective of homelessness is commendable.

Once the pandemic recedes, if there is not rapid and extensive improvement in housing homeless people, putting people into treatment programs and yes, putting people in jail or accountability programs then we can only call Seattle a failed city, with all the attendant decay that rating brings with it.

That would be a tragedy, but it will also be a certainty if we don’t find a way to clean this shit up and pull our city back into a semblance of sanity.

Bob
Bob
24 days ago

Great news! Hope they can maintain it. Thanks for the great update!

Paul
Paul
24 days ago

They have all been offered shelter afaik. Speaking from experience I know that those who facilitate your lifestyle are not helping, you need to be coerced a bit to get the help you need

C Doom
C Doom
23 days ago

There is a definite split between people who have sympathy and empathy for those experiencing homelessness, and those that feel that if they can’t afford to live here, they should leave.

At some point those that pay are being told they must yield to those that don’t.

Are we a Communist neighborhood or a Capitalist one.

CHqueer
CHqueer
23 days ago
Reply to  C Doom

The problem in political discourse right now is the black and white framing. The world is complex and the solutions to these intractable problems are found in the middle through compromise not on the political extremes.

CD Neighbor
CD Neighbor
23 days ago
Reply to  C Doom

Having empathy for people who aren’t as fortunate doesn’t have to automatically equal thinking it’s OK to allow them to trash a neighborhood….

Yes – there should be low income housing available – that it may not accommodate every single person who decides that they want a particular spot it doesn’t mean that it’s failed or even that there isn’t enough…. Every single person in this world has to make choices and more often than not those choices are a compromise that fall somewhere in the middle of exactly what we want, what is available and what we can afford.

CHqueer
CHqueer
23 days ago

100 tons of garbage removed from the “protester” encampment in the park. That is a step in the right direction. Now the city should focus on rebuilding the businesses destroyed in the CHAZ debacle. Pictures are circling on social media showing damaged beyond repair to Neighbors. What will be left of the Capitol Hill LGTBQI+ and arts communities after the black bloc occupation of Capitol Hill?

Thomas Hughes
Thomas Hughes
23 days ago

As an outsider from Tennessee who closely watched the “summer of love” from a far…
Ya’ll voted for Jenny and your council members. You chose to live in and participate in the utopia of socialism. You supported the anarchy, chaos, riots, looting, Antifa and the take over of your once vibrant city by George Soros. The death of Seattle (KOMO verbiage) has been astonishing. There are several similar case studies, but the speed and fashion in which you’ve accomplished this is remarkable. It is complex, but yet simple. I leave with you a quote from a leadership analysis meeting in Chicago…”we have problems, there is plenty of blame to go around, and lots of people are working on it”.
Yet nothing changes. I wish the best for the hard working, law abiding business owners, property owners and patriots of the once great City of Seattle.

RWK
RWK
22 days ago
Reply to  Thomas Hughes

Many of us did not vote for our now-leftist City Council. We elect our councilmembers by district (except for 2 at-large members), and the socialist Sawant only won in her district because of a last-minute, large donation by Amazon to her opponent, and that upset enough moderates that they voted for her. There is now a serious effort to recall Sawant, and hopefully that will be successful, because otherwise she has almost 3 years left in her term. Also, many Seattleites are hoping that most City Council members will be defeated in the next election.

I agree with you about Mayor Durkan. She has been a disappointment. I also agree that Seattle has gone way downhill….I have lived here my entire life, and I hardly recognize the place.

Thomas Hughes
Thomas Hughes
22 days ago
Reply to  RWK

RWK…
Thanks for your reply. I empathize with you. I understand the lifelong loyalty, and admire it.

Yet the city is going to pay the legal fees associated with Sawant’s recall? I just don’t understand. Jenny has positioned to have her $240K in legal fees paid for by the citizens, which will likely be approved, just like Sawant. They don’t care. They have not cared. This isn’t about George Floyd or CoSars19. There were hundreds of good people who died when the Titanic sank, but bore no responsibility.

I recommend you vote with your feet and not at the polling station. The hole in the hull is too large, and the city, county and state “leadership ” haven’t a clue to the reality.

You have been betrayed.
Kindest of regards, and best wishes.. Thomas Hughes

C Doom
C Doom
20 days ago
Reply to  Thomas Hughes

Not everyone supports the protesters, many of whom come here to throw down with cops. By your logic you support terror bombing downtown Nashville. Maybe ease off the moron internet troll tier hot takes, dude? “Summer of love” is one of those phrases that lit up right wing and troll forum media. Nobody that lives here uses the phrase as a descriptive term.

Bet you yammer about the “democrat party” too.

Your comment is full of right wing troll “tells.” Isnt it, “patriot?”

Karl Liebknecht
Karl Liebknecht
19 days ago
Reply to  C Doom

Yeah, when I got to the George Soros mention I actually LOL’d. That Soros is one busy MF, amiright?

JTContinental
JTContinental
18 days ago
Reply to  Thomas Hughes

Wait, has my mother started commenting here?

You didn’t watch closely e Pugh, if that’s what you think is happening here.