Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The fence is coming down--and soon

The recalcitrants go down fighting

Ever since the Parks Board voted in December to take the fence down at Swingset Park (Madison Park North Beach), the only real question remaining was when. Now that question has been answered.  Seattle Parks confirmed to us late last week that the planning process has been completed, the neighborhood has been given its opportunity to provide input, and it's time to move on. The fence will be pulled down and trucked away by a Parks crew sometime this month.

Getting to this point has not been easy. The Parks Superintendent, in accepting the Parks Board recommendation last winter, mandated that before the fence comes down, the community should provide input on what comes after. To that end, a committee with a supposedly equal number of anti- and pro-fence-removal Madison Parkers was established to advise the Parks staff on landscape restoration at the park. Two meetings of the committee were held, the most recent occurring last Tuesday.

While the first meeting was reportedly collegial, the second and final meeting was something less than that. Though a Parks staffer reported to us simply that "the meeting yesterday did not go well," that was apparently an understatement. According to multiple witnesses, the meeting ended with one of the anti-fence-removal members telling a Parks staffer that many people in Madison Park consider members of his department to be "something lower than fecal matter." It has also been reported to us that during the course of the meeting an anti asked a Parks staffer what their name was so that he could make sure he spelled it right on the lawsuit he intended to file. It was that kind of meeting.

Other members of the committee, however, later dissociated themselves from the ill-mannered behavior of their fellow Madison Parkers, and in multiple emails praised the Parks staff for its professionalism and responsiveness. They expressed support for the process and seemed dismayed that any members of the committee could have mis-understood the purpose of the group. It appeared, one committee member stated, that certain other members would only be satisfied if a new fence were installed to replace the old one.

That, however, is not the plan.  This is the plan:

According to Parks staffer Susan Golub, once the fence is removed a Parks crew will begin installing the plantings and other natural materials that will act as a low barrier where the lawn comes into contact with the existing rip-rap. The first order of business, actually, will be to remove the blackberry bushes, but once that has been accomplished up to three different planting schemes will be employed:

Instead of a hedge or low fence, there will be logs, one-man rocks, aggregate, and driftwood at various locations along the ridge, as well as plantings of potentilla, gaultheria shallon (a leathery-leaved shrub),  Kinnikinnick (a low-creeping shrub), spirea (a small deciduous shrub), grasses, and other low- and medium-sized plants.  In other words: no view-blocking shrubbery and no new trees. The idea is to preserve as much of the existing lawn as possible and prevent erosion.  The aim of the whole project, after all, is to restore "public access" to Lake Washington.

It's the official view of Seattle Parks and Recreation that this is a done deal. All that remains is to carry out the work. As far as we're aware no one is seeking an injunction, so presumably the new Swingset Park will be unveiled in all its "unobstructed" glory sometime before the Summer rush begins.  Quite clearly, not everyone will be pleased.

[The Parks Superintendent and the Development Division Director will formally present the plan to the Madison Park Community Council meeting on Monday, May 7 (7 pm at the Madison Park Bath House), for those interesting in hearing the details and seeing the plan up close. Swingset Park is located at E. Lynn Street and 43rd Avenue E.]


  1. Okay, there is a major prize for whoever rats out the child that resorted to name calling and the pre-teen that resorted to threatening litigation. We should have the one guy's cleaning lady wash his mouth out with soap.

    Bryan, wouldn't this fall under the same criteria as John from the Deli? Alleged outlandish behavior by a neighborhood figure, heard about second-hand and not verified with the subject, yet reported anyway?

    I'll be waiting......

    1. As the Working Committee member who brought up this behavior by e mail initially privately to others on the Committee, and who did not pass this on to Bryan, I can say that I'm not very happy about this all becoming so public. The offending party got the message, and incidentally, in other capacities has done a lot for the community. It is complex, people don't like having areas right near their serene homes changed, I'm sympathetic to that and hope we can all move on and work better together now.

  2. Though invited to attend the second meeting of the committee, I declined the honor (life is just too short). I therefore was not present and did not hear who said what to whom. However, there is verification (without attribution) for the comments reported, from more than one source who was there.

  3. i'm confused!!

    what happens to the swings?

    who will get the tot's soccer ball from the lake?

    keep the fence

  4. It is time to move on and do what we can as a community to make the North Madison Park area beautiful and inviting. For instance, it may be possible to design and change that area over time so it naturally attracts people seeing a space by the lake to reflect and enjoy a more serene and quiet setting than the lively South Madison Park beach. That kind of approach could both improve the North Park and help retain aspects the entire community has appreciated.

  5. So once again out MPCC or Club remains silent on this issue despite the fact that it's President was on the Working Committee that advised the Park Department!

    Isn't it time for the Club to communicate it's views (positions) to the Park they are supposed to represent or is it time for NEW leadership that does represent all of Madison Park, not just the chosen few!

    1. Yeah, maybe Bryan should run for President of MPCC since he is committed to communication and considering more than one side to an issue.

    2. What difference would it make if MPCC did take a position? They have no more power than you do.

    3. Well said. Unfortunately, most of the commentators on this blog do not seem to understand the scope, breadth and power of the MPCC, or else they just like to complain. They cannot stop the city from doing anything, no more than you or I can.

      If something initiated by the City happens in Madison Park and you don't like it, it is as much your fault as that of the Community Council.

    4. What exactly is the "breadth and power" of the MPCC and whom do they represent?

      It appears that all we've seen in several comments in the blog and others that the issue was not the responsibly of the Council! This seems to be an easy cop out and it would be nice to hear from the Council or even it's President as to where they stand.

    5. Most of you seem to be like that beetle you find when you are working in your garden. He has been accidently flipped over onto his back and is just lying there, flailing all his legs around, hoping he will right himself through some stroke of good luck, before a bird swoops down and eats him.

      Thankfully, I am a compassionate person. In less than one minute, I found the answers to all of your questions. How you ask? I know you don't really want the answer, because you just like to complain, but.....

      I slid my line of sight about two inches to the right, scrolled up about four inches with my mouse and under the section titled "Madison Park" I found a link to the Madison Park Community Council. I clicked on it.

      Low and behold, I was transported to a website where I was told when CC meetings were held. I was told what the purpose of the CC is. I found meeting minutes from all CC meetings, including those about this fence issue. I found the bylaws of the CC. I found a roster of the CC. I found a link to the Madison Park email network.

      After I rested from all of this hard work, I went back to the blogger page, scrolled down under the "labels" section to "Swingset Park" and found the entire history of this issue. Included was Gail Irving, Madison Park Community Council President on record in the Seattle Times no less(!), as being opposed to the fence removal. Bet that one fooled you, didn't it?

      So let's cut the nonsense. Most of you beetles only care that this issue did not come out the way you wanted it to. You have a hard time with the concept that sometimes you don't get your way, and have resorted to this passive agressive behavior to make yourselves feel better. Is it working?

    6. The following is from the MPCC bylaws, so was the meeting held on the third Monday and who are the new officers of the "club":

      Section 1. Annual meetings
      An Annual Meeting of the members of the Council shall be held in the month of May, on the third Monday thereof, unless otherwise directed by the Board of Directors, for the purpose of electing Directors and transacting such other business as may properly come before the meeting. Notification of the meeting shall be posted on the Council’s website and disseminated throughout the neighborhood as widely as feasible by conspicuous postings, use of media where appropriate, and by word of mouth, commencing not less that ten (10) days prior to the date of the meeting.

  6. There were several community meetings on the topic of whether the fence should come down held earlier this year, or late last, or both. You all had the chance to attend and air your "positions" and write letters and attend city meetings and apparently did not, or at least you are talking like you did not, because you clearly do not seem to understand how the process transpired.

    The committee in the above story was composed by the city, AFTER the decision was made by the city to take the fence down FOLLOWING the series of meetings and comment period that you chose not to take part in. The committee in this story had nothing to do with the Madison Park Community Council, or any "position" thereof, or any reconsideration of the decision to take the fence down. It was put together to allow the community some involvement in planning what the park would look like when the fence was gone. So, unless you advocated a "position" whereby rhodys would be planted instead of ferns once the fence was gone, you missed the boat months ago.

    Maybe if you took a position, besides sitting on your backside and complaining about things, you would have a little more say in what the neighborhood "position" is the next time it matters.

  7. Been here 25 years, right next door to said park. Seen everything that goes on there, pretty much all good. Don't see that changing, fence or no.

    1. Love the voice of sanity.

    2. I too like this sane perspective. By the way, Monday 7 PM, the MPCC is having a meeting at the Bath House, where the Super of the Parks will describe the plan. I think most people will end up liking the changes, albeit, for some change is difficult.

    3. Only been here 22. Can't agree more.


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