A month since Cal Anderson reopened after a sweep of activists and homeless encampments, new tree lighting along Nagle Place and community clean-ups planned for the area represent small progress in efforts to improve the park and address the long-term issues that have challenged the busy public green space.
Earlier this month, the trees along the western edge of the park on Nagle between Barbara Bailey Way and Pine were draped with strings of lights, “one of the many efforts that the Cal Anderson Park Alliance, community partners, and the City are working on together to revitalize the area around Cal Anderson Park,” the announcement of the small project reads.
Meanwhile, Seattle Parks-organized volunteer work parties hoped to give the community more opportunities to help the park deal with issues around trash, graffiti, and damage will begin this weekend.
As with most things Cal Anderson right now, the work parties are being positioned as the start of more effort to come. “These two work parties are meant to be a starting point and we plan on scheduling more volunteer opportunities in the future,” the invitation email from the city reads. “Don’t hesitate to let us know if you have any questions.”
CHS reported here on the just before Christmas reopening of Cal Anderson following a Seattle Police and Seattle Parks sweep of encampments and activists that included 24 arrests.
The park had 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 even as the space remained a center of protest and encampments through 2020.
In its announcement of the reopening, Seattle Parks promised “more activities, maintenance, and services.”
Since the reopening, the department has maintained a presence of city employees to act as ambassadors around the reopened restrooms and shelterhouse. The park’s ping pong tables have also been deployed.
It’s a far cry from what many activists and mutual aid volunteers hope to see at the park that carries more than its fair share of the city’s homelessness, mental health, and addiction crises.
But there is also small progress there.
Cal Anderson Park Alliance community discussions that began in the wake of CHOP have reportedly carried on with groups and advocates working to take on new projects around the park. Whether the city will truly have an appetite for assisting with providing things like increased services and outreach at the park, or resources like phone charging stations, rain shelters for mutual aid providers, or lockers will remain to be seen.
No significant encampment activity has returned to the park while other parks in the area have seen their number of tents increase.
Activists and protesters, meanwhile, continue to be active in the space and have found some creative ways to continue to be a presence including ongoing “antifa soccer” matches on the Bobby Morris turf. Sunday, a protest being billed as a family and friends appropriate “autonomous action” will begin in the park.
On Nagle, the tree lighting project meant “to brighten up the west edge of Cal Anderson Park” comes as the street is about to shift into new importance after years of construction as new developments along Broadway and above Capitol Hill Station open to new residents, new businesses, and a new home for the farmers market.
The 25-tree project was paid for by Hunters Capital, Seattle Central College, Gerding Edlen, Community Roots Housing, and Seattle Parks.
It’s a small start to a larger push to improve lighting “for people walking near the park during the evenings and early mornings,” the announcement from the Cal Anderson Park Alliance and the project sponsors reads.
The hope, CAPA writes, is to “kick-start new community efforts to reactivate the park after months of suspended maintenance services and upkeep.”
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