The Fremocentrist.com Art Inventory

Public Parks, And A Public Responsibility?

an editorial by Kirby Lindsay, posted 18 July 2014

 

A Powerpoint slide of the design of the future Troll's Knoll Park, done by Harrison Design for Seattle Parks & Recreation.  Photo by K. Lindsay, Jul  14

A Powerpoint slide of the design of the future Troll’s Knoll Park, done by Harrison Design for Seattle Parks & Recreation. Photo by K. Lindsay, Jul
14

The Don Sherwood History Files are a resource of incredible value.  Created by a late Seattle Department of Parks & Recreation engineer, the files (now available on-line) preserved information on the creation and design of most public parks in Seattle.

The files do not keep up with Fremont, however, since Sherwood passed away in 1981, yet Fremont keeps adding parks.  That means it will be up to our community to keep up on the stories, and events, as we create new ones.

A Design Plan for The Troll’s Knoll

For instance, according to Seattle Parks representatives, the long-anticipated Troll’s Knoll Park could, finally, become a reality in 2015.  On July 16th, at a public meeting, a few dozen Fremonsters saw the nearly final design of this park, which surrounds but not include the famous Fremont Troll sculpture.

Steve Harris, of the Friends Of The Troll's Knoll, spoke at the public meeting on July 16, 2014, about the steps taken by volunteers to get Fremont a great new park at the Troll sculpture.  Photo by K. Lindsay

Steve Harris, of the Friends Of The Troll’s Knoll, spoke at the public meeting on July 16, 2014, about the steps taken by volunteers to get Fremont a great new park at the Troll sculpture. Photo by K. Lindsay

The park, as currently proposed, includes a p-patch area (for 30 – 32 gardens,) a public gathering space/amphitheater, view corridors, ADA accessible paths, buffer trees and artistic wind turbines (Pterofin) that may supply electricity for the path lights.

Meeting attendees asked about a few items the park doesn’t include, such as trash cans, parking, and a long-term maintenance plan.  The amphitheater as pictured has a manicured lawn, but when asked if Parks plans to keep the grass and brush off the sidewalks on the east side of the park, Parks staff could only promise this project would clear out any invasive plants in that area.  As for keeping the amphitheater trimmed and tidy, and free of trash, they are still figuring out maintenance, the representatives said.

As for putting out trash receptacles, Jeron Gates, the Seattle Parks’ Troll’s Knoll project manager, explained that this will be a pack-in/pack-out park.  No trash cans are planned for the site.  The resident who had asked said that she’d visited pack-in/pack-out parks before, and seen how many people don’t.

Have you been to Peak Park lately - located at 4357 Palatine Ave N - because it just gets more lovely each year!  Photo by K. Lindsay, Jan '12

Have you been to Peak Park lately – located at 4357 Palatine Ave N – because it just gets more lovely each year! Photo by K. Lindsay, Jan ’12

A Maintenance Plan à la Peak Park

The original plan for Troll’s Knoll Park came from residents within our community.  A group of very dedicated, and very determined, local volunteers designed the park, based on what we have and what they could do, and then they filled out a hefty pile of paperwork to get the funding to build it.  They got the funding – under the 2008 Parks Levy Opportunity Fund – and now the Seattle Parks Department have done a redesign, based on what they have and they can do, and will build it.  The question remains:  Maintenance?

This Sunday, July 20th, from 10a – 1p, the Friends Of Fremont Peak Park will hold one of their periodic weeding parties.  Volunteers will gather at the public park to weed, clean and do general maintenance.

 

Details of A.B. Ernst (Slippery Slope) Park show overgrown bushes and trash collecting in the blue bucket, but not the peeling paint on the stairwell or graffiti (fortunately fading) on the concrete.  Photo by K. Lindsay, Jul '14

Details of A.B. Ernst (Slippery Slope) Park show overgrown bushes and trash collecting in the blue bucket, but not the peeling paint on the stairwell or graffiti (fortunately fading) on the concrete. Photo by K. Lindsay, Jul ’14

Peak Park realizes an ideal; an ideal that may not be replicable.  Private citizens, including the previous property owner, identified the location as a park, and they convinced another private citizen to purchase it, and hold it, when Seattle Parks didn’t have the money.  In 2002 and 2004, the City did buy the land and a committee of neighbors designed the park, in partnership with Seattle Parks.  Seattle Parks built most of it, but private citizens – some of the original group, and other volunteers who have stepped in since – continue to redesign and maintain it.

A Private Park

Beneath the George Washington Memorial Bridge (a.k.a. Aurora) at the edge of Lake Union and parking for the Adobe Systems’ Fremont office is a green strip of land that has man-made swales, a picnic table, and public art by Jean Whitesavagean empty picture frame that can be used to view the lake, the Seattle skyline and Mount Rainier.

The 'Dreamer of Peace' statue stands to one side of Grove Park, under the George Washington Memorial Bridge.  Photo by K. Lindsay, May '11

The ‘Dreamer of Peace’ statue stands to one side of Grove Park, under the George Washington Memorial Bridge. Photo by K. Lindsay, May ’11

Historically, this piece of property has been called Groves Park – although it is not, technically, public park land.  The ‘park’ is maintained by the company that owns and maintains the adjacent office buildings, Kilroy Realty.  Nearly any time of the day it is possible to lay on the grass, sit at the picnic table or barrel through on the Burke-Gilman Trail, without encountering trash or disrepair.

Can It Be Done

The ambitious Troll’s Knoll Park encompasses a much larger area than either Peak or Groves, and its design includes many more amenities.  Yet, the need for community involvement, and buy-in, may be even more necessary.

Adjacent to the Fremont Branch of the Seattle Public Library is a small, very concrete park that Seattle Parks calls A.B. Ernst Park, but which locals still refer to as ‘Slippery Slope’.  The land, before becoming a park, had been used as a dangerous, and often muddy, cut-through by those who possessed mountain goat skills for climbing through it.  When the City created a park here, they designed it and built it – and named it.  Today it serves almost exclusively as an access ramp for the library’s basement, with the public art and amphitheater rarely acknowledged.

‘Slippery Slope’ has very little buy-in from our community.  We didn’t create it, and we don’t invest our energy or passion into it today.

City workers were out weed-whacking the foliage of what will become Troll's Knoll Park West in 2015.  Photo by K. Lindsay, Jul '14

City workers were out weed-whacking the foliage of what will become Troll’s Knoll Park West in 2015. Photo by K. Lindsay, Jul ’14

Meanwhile, up the street, the Fremont Troll, reportedly the second most visited site in Seattle next to the Space Needle, has barely a moment, day or night, without visitors.  Yet, neither public meeting this summer, to discuss the Troll’s Knoll, drew more than a few dozen attendees.  Seattle Parks gave us a chance for input, Harrison Design has given us a design based in part on that input, and the park will be constructed, according to plan, in 2015.

In 2016, Fremonsters will be given this park, to use and preserve, or let it become another place like Slippery Slope, of overgrown plants, trash, graffiti and empty, open spaces.

Seattle Parks, and Don Sherwood, have given us incredible resources.  It remains to be seen if we will make the most of them, like the Friends of Peak Park continue to do, or let these opportunities turn into space wasters, and a future problem.

 

 


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©2014 Kirby Lindsay.  This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws.  Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.

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