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.]