by Kirby LindsayImagine being able to go for a day hike, without leaving Fremont. Fremont resident David Roman has worked hard to convince the City of Seattle Department of Parks & Recreation to make an uncared for piece of property between Queen Anne and Fremont into a wetlands trail park. On October 25th, Seattle Parks will hold a public hearing on recommendations for the Opportunity Fund, including Roman’s proposal for a place to hike – within sight of the Fremont Bridge.
Won’t Let Go
The land lays along Dexter Avenue North, and touches 4th Avenue North. Roman discovered the wilderness area when, “I was looking for a way to get outside,” he explained. Currently studying for an advanced degree, “I don’t have time to go to the Cascades.” Instead, he spent a year of his free time attacking think strands of ivy that attack, and sometimes kill, the huge trees that cover the land – including a cottonwood, buckeye, spruce, 80+ big leaf maples, and 3 Western red cedar. Last February, he collected 10 garbage bags of bottles dumped around the site.
“I did a rough extrapolation,” during his walks, and he estimated the size of the property, “and I came up with 50,000 square feet.” He also explored the possibility of developing the property, as a park, through the Parks & Green Spaces Levy Opportunity Fund. He also identified the property owners and he discovered, “the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) owns the vast majority of the land.” Seattle Parks owns the rest.
He approached representatives from SDOT, about fixing up the land for a park and capturing the spring water on the property. They welcomed the possibility of the water being retained in a pond, rather than continuing to erode the land, adjacent sidewalks and slowly destroying the roadway.
His tenacious and dedicated pursuit has also won him allies in the Parks Department. After all, Roman attended both meetings offered by Seattle Parks for presentations – not everyone did. He’s stayed in touch during the recommendation process, and out of the 96 projects submitted, the wetlands trail park currently rates #12. “I haven’t let this go,” he admitted.
In December the Opportunity Fund committee will submit recommendations to the Seattle Parks Superintendent. In January 2011, the final list of projects will be presented to the Seattle Mayor and City Council, who will, according to targeted projections, give their final decision by March. That could mean project implementations might begin in April 2011.
Won’t Force a Vision
Roman has been tenacious about his proposal, but he does not see himself interfering in the project implementation. He expects Seattle Parks’ officials to dictate that, although he wants to be helpful. He has suggestions, such as using goats to initially clear the worst of the overgrowth and the building of “a good size retaining pond,” to capture the spring water, as “the main feature of the park.”
Naturally shaped like a bowl, or amphitheater, the retaining pond would sit near the center, next to a dense grove of maple trees that already grow there. He dreams of a bridge, no matter how short, built over the pond since “people love to stand over water,” he likes to point out, with access from an ADA trail that could easily reach it from a nearby bus stop.
“Already there are natural contours of the land that will create trails around the bowl,” Roman pointed out, especially after they’ve been marked. Native plants would attract native birds and squirrels, Roman imagines, and he describes bike racks, bird houses, wind chimes and art works hidden in nooks and crannies of the property. “If it were up to me,” he finally admitted, “there would be a cell phone jammer hidden in the grove of trees.”
Yet, “once this gets accepted,” he stated realistically, “I don’t know how much influence I’ll have on the park.” Even so, he’s suggested a name for the finished property – the Rachel Carsons Park. Carson, in 1962, published a book called Silent Spring, about the use of synthetic pesticides, including DDT, on farms. It became a seminal work, often credited with launching the environmental movement. “She reminded people that we are a part of nature,” Roman explained.
Help on the project has come from the Fremont Arts Council, the Fremont Chamber of Commerce and stake holders in the community – and Roman welcomes help from any others who might be willing. Yet, if the park does become reality, the diligence and determination Roman has shown on this green space can be an inspiration for us all.
©2010 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.