Wednesday, May 4, 2011

New Washington Park play area? Fuggetaboutit

It was with some fanfare that our friendly garbage company, CleanScapes, announced last year that a project submitted by residents of Madison Valley was the winner of a competition between several contiguous neighborhoods (Madison Park and Madison Valley included) for a $50,000 project grant.  A proposed new play area at Washington Park, near the ball field, was chosen over projects submitted by the other neighborhoods in the Thursday garbage-collection area.  The project competition resulted from the fact that the Thursday-is-garbage-day neighborhoods had shown a greater reduction in waste over some specified period than the neighborhoods whose garbage was collected on other days of the week.

CleanScapes announced last week, however, that the whole project at Washington Park is now dead.  The idea had been to replace the existing swings (shown above) with a "integrated play area" very much like (if not identical to) the one privately paid for and installed a couple of years ago at Madison Park.  The Washington Park play area was a great idea whose time has, unfortunately, not yet come.  It seems that the project cannot be implemented within the $50,000 grant budget, even though volunteers were going be used for installation labor.

What happened?  Well, that's something of a mystery.  CleanScapes in its press release stated, "Seattle Parks determined that the original proposal would not be approved, as they did not want the swings removed from the existing containment area to make way for a new playground structure." The winning project presupposed the replacement of the swingset with the new play area. Once the City balked at that plan, other problems arose. The play area would have needed to be placed in a different location, one that proved unstable after soil testing.  Properly preparing the new site for the installation would have cost well in excess of the budgeted amount, causing CleanScapes to give up on the Washington Park scheme.

But why did the City object to removal of the swingset?  Parks spokesman Joelle Hammerstad was unable to provide an answer when we quizzed her last week.  She did give us this statement, however: “Seattle Parks and Recreation is disappointed that we were not able to move forward with the playground renovation at Washington Park. It would have been a great project for the community. We are, however, heartened that CleanScapes has a slate of other great projects that will be a boon for neighbors. We congratulate the community on their excellent waste reduction efforts, and are confident that the new CleanScapes project will add much enjoyment to the neighborhood.”

Unfortunately, the neighborhood that CleanScapes will be adding much enjoyment to will not be ours.  The remaining projects (originally losers to the Washington Park play area) are: Madrona's bid for "historic and directional bronze sidewalk art," Montlake's bid for a new path and information kiosk at Montlake Gateway Park, and First Hill's bid for an SDOT (that's Seattle Department of Transportation) information kiosk at Ninth Avenue and Madison Street.


  1. My conclusion: we are paying too much for garbage removal if they can afford to fund projects like these.

  2. i agree. these are things the city should be funding with our property taxes, not the garbage company with the apparent huge profits they are making from us. sounds like a bunch of red tape and excuses, as usual from city officials. free labor and they STILL can't get it done? give me a break.

  3. Is there a way for a set of Madison Park citizens to get the City to improve Washington Park? WHy isn't this a top priority for the Mad Park Comm Council (or are they too busy approving bright signs over new banks)?

  4. Madison Park citizens had ample opportunity to encourage the city to improve Washington Park, including several public meetings on the issue. All meetings regarding the CleanScapes grant were attended by at least one representative of the Madison Park Community Council.

    To be clear, Madison Park submitted three grant applications for projects in the village.

    Those applications were for:

    Benches to replace the unsightly barricades at the end of Madison Street overlooking the dock

    Handrails to be installed by the steep stairs on the East side of the playground

    A bulletin board kiosk to be installed on the Bank of America triangle

    These three proposals were reviewed by CleanScapes along with many others submitted by surrounding neighborhoods. The council's proposals were rejected for a variety of reasons. If you would like to know those reasons or if you have specific initiatives you would like the council to address please contact, or attend a monthly meeting. Meetings are held the first Monday of the month, at the Madison Park Bath House, 7 pm.

    While CleanScapes did not pay for the handrails, MPCC did encourage Seattle Parks to go ahead and install the new railings. Please thank Solveig Thomson for her efforts to get this project done.

    Regarding the Key Bank signage, I spent hours encouraging Key Bank to abide by the neighborhood signage guidelines. I'm personally disappointed by how bright the neon is; however, I'm grateful the bank was willing to cooperate with the neighborhood at all. Legally they did not have to do so.


    9" letters, not the 12" originally planned

    A smaller sign on the corner of the building facing Madison

    Removal of the large backlit signs planned for the the South and East sides of the building

    If anyone has questions or comments about these issues, please contact me.

    Lindy Wishard | 206 325-9037

  5. what does any of that have to do with the park swings?

  6. Why was the (re)installation of an irrigation water system for the triangle park not submitted by the Community Council?

  7. Many families live near Washington Park and the Arboretum. We would benefit from having a nice play area there, though we love the swings and would miss them if they were removed.

    I'm appalled the city can't get its head around making this happen. I don't like going all the way down to Madison Park every time my children want to run around. If I have to drive to a playground, we go to Powell Barnett or Volunteer Park, which has "more fun" equipment and frankly a friendlier vibe.

  8. this is laughable. $50,000 for some playground equipment, you have free labor.....and you still can't do it in budget?!?!?!? is the slide made of gold? You can build a small fully-functioning house for $100k.

  9. We have enough crime in the area. We don't need to manufacture more..


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