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.
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
- SPD sweeps Cal Anderson to clear homeless encampments and protesters from park — UPDATE
- Cal Anderson sweep — Day 2: Police in the park, outreach update, graffiti removal, and plans for adding ‘ongoing connection to social services’ — UPDATE
- Cal Anderson sweep — Day 3: 11th and Denny gunfire, pre-sweep molotov cocktail attack, sad update in park overdose — UPDATE: ‘Antifa soccer’ arrests
- Cal Anderson sweep: As snow temporarily blankets park’s problems, city tempers expectations about next steps
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.
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.”
Cal Anderson now includes some helpful new signage like "be safe play safe" and "no camping" and what I'm now going to call a map of what runs have been groomed. pic.twitter.com/o4yJcJsbFI
— matt (@mmitgang) December 23, 2020
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/
“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/
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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