Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Mystery of the missing pavers solved

Anyone who purchased a granite paver in support of the Friends of Madison Park but has yet to see the engraved paver placed in the Park will be happy to learn that installation should happen within the next week to ten days. That’s the word, at least, from FMP volunteer Matt Bridge.

In my role as investigative journalist (“Ask Bryan”) I was called last week by someone who wondered if there might be something questionable going on with the non-profit Friends of the Park. She said that she and others had paid their money months ago but had yet to see any results. Where are their pavers?

For those of you who haven’t been paying attention, the Park recently underwent a significant upgrade as a result of the efforts of FMP, which raised about $1 million for park improvements. This was matched by around $115,000 from the City. The upgrade included reconfiguration of the play areas, creation of a sitting area, the addition of playground equipment and benches, and new landscaping.

Bridge told me that he hopes everyone will be patient as the finishing touches on the Park are completed. These include installation of several engraved pavers, repair of some of the playground equipment, and placement of some additional park benches. He said that what began as an FMP group of 12 parents has now dwindled to just three parent volunteers, “and we’re working hard.”

The engraved pavers became a fund-raising method for FMP rather late in the game, according to Bridge. Donors willing to contribute $500 were entitled to placement of a 6” by 8” paver engraved with their name or the name of their business. Those donating $800 would get an 8” by 12” paver. Bridge told me that as he remembered it, the initial deadline for donors to get in on the opportunity was probably sometime around June 1.

At any rate, some donors didn’t submit their forms until much later, he said. (In their defense, the form does not list a deadline). These later donors are the ones who have yet to see their names displayed in the Park. To save on costs, installation was delayed until all of the pavers of this later group were engraved. According to Bridge engraving is now complete and the pavers are sitting securely in the warehouse of the Seattle Parks & Recreation Department awaiting placement. Bridge says he understands the frustration of those who are still waiting to see the results of their contribution, but their wait is almost over. “We realize we’re late, and we do apologize.”

Friends of Madison Park (which is a section 501.c.3 nonprofit) will continue to operate as long as there are funds in the FMP account, Bridge says. Right now there’s between $25,000 and $30,000 available, he estimates, which will be used principally for maintenance of the playground equipment.

When the Friends of Madison Park announced plans to make improvements to the Park, some longtime residents were wary if not downright hostile. They liked the Park the way it was. But I’ve been by the Park a lot since it was dramatically transformed, and my sense is that the users are plenty happy with what FMP has accomplished there.

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