Thursday, December 8, 2011

This fence to be removed

Parks Board makes its recommendation

After serving for more than 60 years as a safety barrier (and, in the opinion of many, an eyesore), the chain-link fence at Swingset Park is about to become a thing of the past. That, at least, is the position of the Board of Park Commissioners, which this evening voted 4-0 (with one abstention) to recommend to the Superintendent of Parks & Recreation that the fence and its attendant blackberry bushes be removed. The Board also recommended that the Superintendent "confer" with the community concerning both the implementation of its recommendation and the creation of a vegetation-management plan for the park. It's the Board's intention that this interaction with the neighborhood occur prior the fence being taken down.

Theoretically, the Acting Superintendent, Christopher Williams, could reject the Board's recommendation. But this seems unlikely given that it was Mr. Williams' own department that initiated the proposal, developing the briefing paper which provided background and justification for the removal the fence. Williams, who attended the Board session, gave no indication that he would be doing anything other than carrying out the wishes of the citizen panel, stating that among the issues he may be discussing with people in the neighborhood are "volunteer stewardship activities" and "maintenance" of the park once the fence is removed.  Several Board members acknowledged concerns about safety at the park, asking that the parks department explore such options as a low hedge to replace the fence and a more-limited fence to enclose the immediate area around the swingset.

The outcome, though not unexpected, appeared to be a disappointment to the 10 to 12 Madison Parkers who attended the Board session.  It was clear from comments made by Board members that they felt the weight of the community's input and sought to justify both the Board's process and ultimate recommendation. After the Commissioners reached their decision, Board Chair Terry Holme told those assembled that the issue had been "a challenging one for the Board--and we take our challenges seriously."  He noted that the Commissioners had read all of the input, had instituted a "rigorous" process of review, and had taken longer to reach a conclusion than was typical for such proposals.  He noted that although the neighborhood's concerns were taken into consideration, the Board has a responsibility to serve the entire parks system and to consider each park as part of the whole. In this case, he said, he felt that the park was not meeting its full potential and will be a better park because of the recommended changes.

During the Board's discussion, it was noted that each of the Commissioners who were present had visited the park to see the situation firsthand (one Commissioner was absent from the meeting for medical reasons).  Board Vice-Chair Diana Kincaid, who made the motion to remove the fence, stated that "public waterfront is incredibly valuable and precious" and suggested that there are other locations fairly immediate to the park where such activities as kids' soccer practice could take place. Another Commissioner, Jackie Ramels, stated that there are other parks in the system, including the one at Alki, where the drop off to the water is significantly greater than at this park, without the parks department feeling the need to have any barriers in place. In the end, the desire to ensure "waterfront access" won out, with only one Commissioner, John Barber, expressing reservations based on child safety (his was the one abstention).

[Swingset Park is located at E. Lynn Street and 43rd Avenue E.]


  1. Bad decision. Someone will get seriously injured, and possibly die, given the hazardous nature of the riprock on the waterfront.

  2. The one-party, politically correct rule prevailed; never mind the risk to children and others. The Alki comparison is, of course, false. There are no rocks on Alki Beach. There are at the Swingset Park. It is interesting how our leftist, pay-as-you-go (increase taxes) with our money Council forgets the welfare of all. The decision would be different if the opponents were minorities.

  3. Hurray, hurray, what a great decision, one made in the face of tremendous BS over possible safety issues, particularly given that ALL of the rest of Seattle Parks waterfront sites are not fenced (except where there are railroad tracks. It is noteworthy that in spite of the 'fenceless' policy, children are not dying on a regular basis from falling off rocks or something into the Sound or lakes.
    I could respond to the second comment with a personal attack since that person clearly disagrees with me, but I'd rather stick to the facts than stoop to calling someone 'spoiled white trash' or something like that.

  4. There are lots of rocks at Alki and far more rip-rap in the 2+ miles of shoreline that is not the swimming beach. The dropoff at the Alki bulkhead is also much deeper than it is at Madison Park.

  5. Tear down the fence, let the masses come, but don't even think about taking my parking space. It's the one just south of the pet waste station. The city calls it a bus stop, but that's MY parking spot so don't take it.

  6. The keep the fence crowd seems to think all of seattle is waiting to go to that park, they are not. It is an eyesore the way it is. Most of the crowds will still be at the beach, this little park will be good for us that live in the area. And lets stop with the "kids will die" talk, people die at swimming beaches and we haven't closed them, yet.

  7. Public parks with rocks and/or drop-offs equal to this: Madison Park Beach, Four miles between Mount Baker and Seward Park, Seward Park itself, Green Lake, Alki, the Ballard Ship Canal, Gas Works Park, Foster Island, Myrtle Edwards Park, Madrona Beach, Shilshole, Carkeek Park, Discovery Park, Montlake north of 520. Hell, the Seattle Tennis Club has a huge, unfenced rockery along the lake and lots of unattended kids running around.

    This was the fundamental flaw in your position. The City is no more, or less, concerned about your child whether there is a fence up, or not. If they were, there would be fences along every inch of shoreline. Your big argument was something that the City could not have cared less about.

    You shouldn't have taken the approach of hiding your true agenda (lessening the impact to your way of life) under the guise of being concerned about the greater good. The City would have had a much, much more difficult time arguing about intangible things like crowds, "parking problems," noise and property values. Instead, you reinforced how much of an exception to the norm this fenced stretch of shoreline was and they are going to take care of that. Bad strategy.

  8. Funny how many people don't really worry or care about kids' safety. This is not a "swimming beach". It is all reef. How can people be so selfish? What's the difference with or without the fence? Anyone can use this park, fence or not. The fence makes it safer for now. Alki is no comparison to this little park.

  9. It's all about THE FENCE! The BERLIN WALL! It looks like all the anti-fence activists write more. Is this a class warfare thing: Rich Madison Park people vs "poor" Seattleites? What a ridiculous city we live in where something like this becomes such a cause for some. I explored the area on the other side of the fence. It is risky to use that shoreline. I am sure no one will the way it is. Maybe the fence serves a good purpose. Those who want to risk it can go around the fence.

  10. It appears that the people who wanted to protect the kids have lost one battle, but the just won one by getting the pier at the foot of Madison fully blocked off. Was the barricade extended so that no kids would go on the pier for fear that they might fall off?

    If this is true then maybe we shouldn't have diving platform next year at the Madison Park Beach.

    Honestly, the "Lesser Madison Park" bunch has lost and it's time for them to go back into their Condos and Mansions! They may be able to "control" the Park, but we are still part of Seattle, like it or NOT! Lets hope this is the first of many loses for them too!

  11. Good thing the fence is coming down so we don't have to hear about it again. Folks who are so fanatical as those who have made the fence such an issue will be back with something else. Obviously, it's all about class warfare ("condos and mansions").

  12. Please take a look at the most recent Madison Park Times and you will see the "fanatical" people who believe in their own minds that they represent Madison Park and are do not want to be part of Seattle.

    We need to find a new project for them, so how about them working on resolving the issue of the Constance BLDG which is falling down in place.
    This effort would unite the community, rather than continue to divide it.

    Do you have suggestions for projects for the "Fanatical" Park residents who can't stop the fence removal?

  13. Sounds like you already got a new issue for yourself. I hope you pursue such endeavors with equal fanatism (and bitterness) throughout our city and not just limit yourself to Madison Park. There are other rich "condo and mansion" people in Bellevue, Kirkland, Medina, Mercer Island, Hunt's Point, Magnolia. You are going to be busy.

  14. So now that the "bad guys" have lost, what will all you "good guys" be using as your crutch to excuse inaction, ambivalence, apathy, whininess, victimization and every other reason why you sit and do nothing but cowardly complain in anonymous blog forums.

    Say what you want about the people pictured in the paper, but at least they were pictured taking part in the process while you sat at home grumbling.

    Oh, and before you think I am a sore loser, I was in favor of the fence coming down! I am just sick of listening to a bunch of ingrateful, spoiled children who take advantage of everything Madison Park has to offer, while doing nothing to contribute. Either join up, or shut up.

  15. It is most interesting to see that the last comment about "cowardly complain in anonymous blog forums" did NOT sign their name. It seem that the kettle is calling the pot black!

    In addition, it is inappropriate for Commenters to tell anyone to "shut up". This still is a free country and we have a right to speak up and those words are the reason people don't "join up" in Madison Park!

    Note, that I'm not signing my name for a very good reason and I believe that we need to get on with improving the Park! The fence issue is dead, lets not kill Madison Park because of it!

  16. Great. Another from the "We need to...." crowd. With all of the "we" in this blog and their ideas and their unbridled enthusiasm for complaining about how issues are handled, there should be a thousand people at every MPCC meeting and the board elections should be so hotly contested that they last for hours. Yet, for some reason, there are three chairs for everyone at the meetings and people have to be literally recruited off the street to serve on the board.

    I agree with the above comment that "shut-up" may be a bit confrontational. How about "Fish or cut bait?" Or, "Put your money where your mouth is?" Or, "Walk the talk?" Or, "You reap what you sow?" Anyone have any others?

  17. The MPCC (Madison Park Community Council) is group of people that purports to represent Madison Park. It is a self perpetuation group that has not had contested elections for officers in over 50 years! The meetings are poorly attended as are most other neighborhood council meetings.

    The only time that people attend meetings is when Madison Park is AGAINST something from Starbucks to Fences removal. In addition, the council has performed best when challenged by other groups such as Friends of the Park or HMP! Unfortunately, these groups had to form since they were not heard within the framework of the MPCC as currently setup!

    Just inviting people to attend meetings is not good enough for people to devote two hours of their time. There are ways of getting those chairs filled and the elections opened up by not discouraging new attendees by the level of "status quo" protection that exists! Outreach for the MPCC needs to be more than just in their meetings and officers names should be made public with pictures and emails so they can be contacted!

    The MPCC, like other groups, relies upon volunteers, but they have to feel some ownership in the process or they will not participate! Attending a meeting on a regular bases has to have a benefit for the attendee. I've heard more than once that the Council doesn’t have enough people or money to do anything and this is a chicken and egg problem that can be fixed in Madison Park.

    Yes, I have attended meetings over the years and I was on the board so I've written this from my personal experience!

  18. We were glad to see a decision was finally rendered in regards to the fence.

    Tradecraft Builders pledges to donate 20 man hrs of "volunteer stewardship activities" to building a new, lower, wood fence to insure the safety of local families. We'll also donate an additional 20 man hrs of volunteer coordination time.

    Perhaps something similar to the one installed at Madrona Park would be suitable for this location as well.

    Trent Jackson
    Tradecraft Builders

  19. Thanks, Tradecraft -- it's great to see a positive note on this issue!

  20. Madison Park already has enough crime to deal with. We can plan on it doubling with this new beach. The police have enough problems with the issues at the beach one block away. Now they will have more to deal with at 2am.

  21. Yes, I have seen the pirate ships, full of marauders from Kirkland, circling out there. As soon as the fence comes down, they're coming ashore to plunder!

  22. For those stumped by the five feet of added guardrail at the foot of Madison, I walked around it this weekend. It went really well.

    Don't dispair, they haven't won yet!!!!

  23. Rather than taking fences down it's HIGH time to put up more fences and barricades to keep Madison Park's 1% safe in their condos and mansions!


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