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.