On May 21st I met with the Friends of the Troll’s Knoll – at the Fremont Troll. While many people have contributed towards building this park, Nathan Polanski, Teresa Damaske, Steve Harris, and Kimberly Scrivner have continued to push this project forward – and turned out on a wet, cold Saturday morning to remove blackberry vines and yank out other insidious, and apparently pervasive, weeds littering the large property that surrounds (on both sides) the iconic statue. Approximately 12 – 15 other volunteers also came out to help, including Tim Whittome who came from Sammamish to lend a welcomed hand.
This first public clean-up came a few weeks after final approval by the City of Seattle of the Troll’s Knoll as a Parks & Green Spaces Levy Opportunity Funds project. With $685,000 earmarked for development of the park by the Seattle Department of Parks & Recreation, some neighborhood folk questioned the continued need for public, volunteer clean-ups.
Community Involvement Included
According to Harris, the clean-ups keep the group “feeling relevant,” and maintain community focus on the area. “We are going to get a park here!,” enthused Scrivner, but she then acknowledged the need for everyone to stay involved. “The money is not going to do maintenance,” Harris pointed out, and it will continue to fall to neighbors, and those who love the park, to get weeds pulled and trash picked up.
All along the project has had a focus on making the park useful. As Scrivner explained, “we want to encourage people to use those paths,” the ones already hard-bitten into the ground to connect to bus stops, provide shortcuts and allow locals a stroll through nature, hopefully without having to beat back blackberry vines with each step.
The Next Steps Towards Development
Besides, nothing about this project will happen overnight. Scrivner has heard that the Parks Department will follow the plan for the Troll’s Knoll as submitted, but it will undergo a formal design process with their designers – and more community meetings, to be held in 2012.
Even as the Parks Department takes over development, the Friends have a part – as the PAT (Project Advisory Team.) After Parks assigns a project manager – expected in early 2012 – the PAT will meet monthly to discuss development, and community concerns. Harris described this new role as that of liaisons for the neighbors – for those who live adjacent to the Troll (like Harris,) those who live in the wider Fremont community (Damaske, Polanski and Scrivner), and those who simply feel connected to the area (Whittome.) “We will make sure their input can be heard,” Harris promised.
To that end, the Friends created a Facebook page, where the organizers and the community, post their concerns and comments on the park. Anyone can see the page, even non-Facebook users, and the very up-to-date information it contains on activities and plans for the park.
“I feel like we’re all on the same page,” asserted Damaske. “We want to make sure the basic theme and desires of the residents is adhered to and followed,” Harris said.
The Development Includes…
The actual plan submitted by the Friends may have won through the application process due to its many low maintenance features, “it’s more of a passive space,” described Polanski. The few touches it does contain often have a sustainable component, using wind turbines or solar panels.
However, they may be things added. After submitting the application, Scrivner was approached by the friend of someone who committed suicide. They asked if a feature could be incorporated that would provide a place for visiting, and healing. Scrivner didn’t think of anything with a name, or a monument, but perhaps a green area set aside for visitors who had suffered similar losses.
The plan does not focus on the Troll, beyond plans to address erosion issues and protecting the area behind the statue from encampments. The Friends have approached the Fremont Arts Council, and the Troll lead artist, Steve Badanes, for a design of a fence or barrier that blends with the statue.
The Best Part Of The Plan
When asked what he liked best, Polanski said, “I’m excited for better use of the public right-of-way. To enhance the property they already have.” The City has long owned this property, and the State has used it to access to the bridge – but very little effort has been given to make it inviting or attractive. “To have this be more of a place for the visitors,” Whittome said. He liked the fact that people – those who crawl all over the Troll seemingly 24/7 – will soon stroll the park space as well.
Whittome also liked how more use will, “increase the safety of the area.” This has been a core issue for the Troll’s Knoll advocates. The area is safe, but it could be safer with ‘more eyes’ as they’ve often stated. During their presentation at the May 23rd meeting of the Fremont Neighborhood Council (FNC,) Scrivner described the lack of benches being installed as a deliberate omission to deter camping.
Ultimately, though, Whittome and Polanski acknowledged community clean-ups, alongside the eventual development, will eradicate the unkempt, unused and neglected atmosphere that has long pervaded the area. “If we make it feel more inviting,” Harris said, the neighborhood can grow into a sense of ownership.
To keep up on, and show support of, the project, follow their Facebook page. And, hey, next time you visit the Troll, snag a few weeds or trash for disposal. Trust me, he won’t miss it…
- An Ambitious Plan For The Troll’s Knoll
- by Kirby Lindsay, February 12, 2010
- Fremont’s Peak Park: A Grass-roots Park
- by Kirby Lindsay, November 1, 2007 in the North Seattle Herald-Outlook
- Parks Add To Fremont’s Wealth Of Resources
- by Kirby Lindsay, November 16, 2007 in the North Seattle Herald-Outlook
- The Trail Park Future Without Funds
- by Kirby Lindsay, February 18, 2011
©2011 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.