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Capitol Hill parks notes: New Ribbon of Light in Cal Anderson, why the Volunteer Park Reservoir is drained, and when you can climb the water tower again

A rendering of a component from the Ribbon of Light installation part of the new AIDS Memorial Pathway between Cal Anderson and Capitol HIll Station (Image: The AMP)

Seattle sunshine and a nicer than average Pacific Northwest spring means a CHS inbox overflowing with questions about Capitol Hill’s parks. You have a questions. Here are a few answers.

  • Why are there new construction fences in Cal Anderson? Sorry, no, it’s not a new dog park. Work is beginning on the north end of the park to install new art installations We’re Already Here and Ribbon of Light for the AIDS Memorial Pathway:

    The final sculptures that are part of We’re Already Here by Civilization will be placed in the northeast corner of the park near the Chinese Scholar tree. The pieces will be similar to the protest sign groupings already installed in the adjacent plaza. The larger area in the northeast edge of the park is where Ribbon of Light by Horatio Hung-Yan Law will be installed. This work includes a series of three illuminated, laminated glass sculptures that will be placed along a landscaped pathway adjacent to the main trail of the park. The artwork is inspired by the words of poets impacted by the HIV/AIDS pandemic, and represent pieces of the sky that have fallen to the ground. They will create a quiet space for communal mourning and personal contemplation.

    CHS showed you the pathway’s We’re Already Here installation components added around the Capitol Hill Station development in February. The Ribbon of Light pieces, seen in the renderings here, will also dot the north section of the park. the pathway connecting Capitol Hill Station to Cal Anderson is planned to be complete in June.

  • What’s going on with Fountain Mountain? CHS reported here on the work to repair the crumbling surface and upgrade the inner pump infrastructure of the Cal Anderson Waterworks fountain.
  • Why is the Volunteer Park Reservoir empty? One of the last remaining uncapped reservoirs in the city, the Volunteer Park body of water is periodically drained for maintenance. That work is currently underway. In 2019, CHS reported on a study for Seattle Public Utilities recommending the reservoir be kept as an emergency water source, not decommissioned. Things haven’t changed. “Volunteer Reservoir remains uncovered and provides only critical emergency water resources for Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) customers,” a spokesperson tells CHS. “In the event of a major earthquake, the reservoir could be a vital source for emergency water and fire-fighting purposes.”
  • What’s happening to the Volunteer Park amphitheater? Upgrade! Construction is underway on the new outdoor performance facility with a roof, storage and green room space, all-gender bathrooms, upgraded electrical access, and “a resilient floor that will even accommodate dance performances.”
  • What are they doing to the duck families? Sorry, baby ducks. Volunteer Park’s ponds are not for you.
  • When can we go up to the Volunteer Park Water Tower observation deck again? A parks department spokesperson explains that the observation deck was originally closed near the start of the pandemic — “it was mostly indoors (except the top), and pretty tight quarters on the stairs.” Later, Seattle Parks reopened with a one-way signage on the stairs, “but people didn’t follow the signs, so we closed again.” As of last week, Parks said it was hoping to let people climb the tower stairs soon but probably not until they can put a park worker in place to “monitor capacity.”

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Kai
Kai
21 days ago

Gumby had a pretty horrific accident.

RWK
RWK
21 days ago

Hopefully the graffiti vandals will leave the sculptures alone, but I’m not optimistic.

mlsquared
mlsquared
20 days ago

Speaking of the water tower – Does anyone know if the tower is still in use? I’ve been curious for some time whether the water in the tower is used by Seattle Public Utilities. Nobody I’ve asked has been able to answer this question – would appreciate any intel readers may have.

jseattle
Admin
20 days ago
Reply to  mlsquared

An answer… kind of:

No, SPU does not keep water in the nearby Volunteer Park Water Tower, Ryan said. He’s not sure what’s inside, but he knows it’s not connected to Seattle’s drinking water system.

Michael
Michael
20 days ago
Reply to  jseattle

Thank you jseattle! Selfishly, I became curious because me nearby water pressure is so low – now I know why!

MSE
MSE
20 days ago

Thankfully NOT a dog park!

Mimi
Mimi
20 days ago

Question about the ducks at Volunteer Park . . . I see the new fencing went up but the ducks are still there. In fact, there is a family of ducklings that is a few weeks old that is living in one of the round water features. Is the new fence going to make it harder for them to survive? If so, can the city remove it since it’s not doing it’s intended job of keeping the ducks out? I want those little ducklings to survive.

RWK
RWK
20 days ago
Reply to  Mimi

I am with you, Mimi. It’s a mystery why the Parks Dept thought the new fencing would keep the ducks out….obviously, the adults can fly in. But the little ones are trapped, and their survival is in peril.

Melvin L Cloyd
Melvin L Cloyd
19 days ago

So, where is the community involvement in what happens in Cal?
I can’t recall any community outreach to inform the community before the art and other changes happen in Cal Anderson.
Parks dept is failing to include the community in shaping the future of CA park.
Who is making these choices for us and why are we not being informed nor included.
Is there racial and gender diversity inclusion of Black Men in the development teams controlling and in calling the shots at Seattle Parks?