After a dozen years of work, 14th Ave. finally getting a park this spring

As far back as we can remember, neighbors and business owners along 14th Ave. — the stretch with the middle parking area — have dreamed of converting part of the space into a park. Not only is the street a bit of an eyesore, it’s also dangerous for pedestrians.

After 12 years of planning, cleanups and lobbying for funds — much of it led by the East Ballard Community Association (EBCA) with help from Groundswell NW — that dream is finally becoming a reality. The city said construction is officially underway on Gemenskap Park on 14th between 59th and 61st Streets — and it should be ready by this spring.

The park will feature a green space and rain gardens on the east side of 14th, incorporating much of the parking area. The roadway will no longer be split, and lanes will run side-by-side along the west side of the street. There will be new, wider sidewalks, and 60th St. will be raised to sidewalk level, creating a bit of a speed bump.

For those of us (admit it) who have used 14th Ave. as a substitute for traffic-heavy 15th Ave., the speed limit will drop from 30 MPH to 20 MPH at the park, and there will likely be 4-way stop signs, as well. Here are the details from the EBCA:

There will most likely be a 4-way stop at NW 59th and another at NW 61st. If you are traveling north, you will stop at NW 59th, transition diagonally to the west alongside south bound vehicles and then stop again at NW 61st where you’ll transition back to the east side with vehicles separated by a median again. If you’re traveling south, you’ll stay in the same lane along 14th and will stop at NW 61st and NW 59th.

During construction, workers will be detouring traffic around 14th Ave. between 58th and 60th streets for 2-3 months. The city said the detour significantly reduces the time required for Jansen Construction to finish the project, which is slated for “late spring” of this year.

The park will not have a play structure, although the EBCA says it’s possible in the future. And the park is too small for letting your dog run free, but dogs are welcome on their leashes.

You should also know how to pronounce Gemenskap: Yuh-MEN-skawp, which is the Swedish work for community. “While there are several Ballard parks that have Norwegian names,” noted Seattle Parks when it selected the name, “this is the first with a Swedish name.” Grandma would be proud.

If you’re just getting caught up on Gemenskap Park, the EBCA has been covering the park’s evolution for years, and it offers a handy list of links here.

21 comments on “After a dozen years of work, 14th Ave. finally getting a park this spring”

  1. Awesome.

    One more place for the homeless to claim as their own… the braindead decision makers are missing the $200,000 toilet that B. Commons park is getting as well. I mean, how’d that slip past the city?

    What a joke.

  2. smoke 30-40 parking places for a park. The war on cars continues as the City Parks budget balloons and the left gets to add more 6 figure jobs.

  3. It looks like there is no bike lane/path along the road, that’s too bad.

  4. Great idea, looks nice but…
    Am I to understand that we’ll be loosing (even) more available parking with the addition of this “park”?
    Parking already, with all the construction being done (& not ample parking being factored into the planning) is at a premium & it too needs to be considered (& preserved).
    Please, I’m not opposed to this park or any for that matter. It’s just that with the over building of Ballard (this city, period) we need to consider that people need a place to park too.
    Thank you!

  5. This is one of the dumber ideas out there…please don’t call this expensive median a park.

  6. “As far back as we can remember, neighbors and business owners along 14th Ave. — the stretch with the middle parking area — have dreamed of converting part of the space into a park. ”

    uh, just about nobody ever has clamored for this to be a “park”. within a year it will be overrun with bum tents…

  7. This is close to Ballard High School. Will the students be able to sit in their cars and smoke dope next to the park like they do at Sunset Hill Park?

  8. It really boggles my mind that people wouldn’t want a new park in a growing city with less and less greenery.

    Sure it’s small but it offers a legit relief from all the steel and glass.

    And the really pathetic part is that people don’t like the idea of this park because they can no longer park on the street for free or they’re afraid a poor person might use the space. Honestly, so many of you belong in the suburbs– please go

  9. Stop signs? Yeah, like drivers are gonna stop for a stop sign. If there are no cops to enforce stop signs, there’s no point in putting up stop signs (see 58th St between 14th and 5th).

  10. With self-driving cars from Lyft/Uber coming soon, the number of cars occupying that part of Ballard (with millenials who aren’t ego-attached to driving) is set to plummet in the coming decade, so I don’t care about losing parking spots. And it’s not the park’s fault that the United States’ lack of a social net means that homeless people in cities tend to sleep in parks. Honestly, if these are the two things that most upset you about getting a small but nice park in our neighborhood, move to Montana.

  11. I live along 14th in front of the park, and I’m excited for it. Certainly parking for guests will become trickier, but the added green space and traffic calming will be well worth it!

    And two quick responses to others:
    -The park is not in the median, the roadway will be realigned between 59th and 61st to place the park in the current median and current northbound lanes.
    -There will be a 12-foot ped/bike path on the east side between the park and the residences. And it will have signage reflecting that.

  12. Get rid of the car farmer’s junk cars and there’ll be plenty of space for parking real cars and a park.

  13. The park there is not a good idea – it will be more of a green space – not really a park. You may be able to sit on a bench there and watch and listen to the cars speeding by but you will not be able to play ball or frisbee due to the proximity to fast moving traffic. Also, if you live in the neighborhood you might have to park a few blocks away from your home now due to the parking spaces that will be taken up with the park. It sure seems like this parks money could be better spent and serve more Seattle Citizens if it was used in a more central park – improving Greenlake Community Center, for example.

  14. I live nearby this proposed park and though I’m generally okay with it, I also have concerns.

    Primarily I’m concerned about it becoming a homeless encampment. I don’t see much effort to quickly remove or provide real disincentives for people to camp.

    I hope the EBCA has a plan for monitoring and managing homelessness in the park they have advocated for.

    I also am concerned by the massive reduction in parking. The studies done for this park appear to have counted total utilization of parking spots on 14th, but not the proximity of spots to where people live. Spots 3-4 blocks away are not the same as a spot around the corner.

    I hope ECBA has compassion for the people who don’t have driveways or garages, and for the inevitable increase in cars that come with greater population density in our part of the city.

  15. Ballardite—

    I really am enjoying your comments. Oh, it’s too loud and there’s too much traffic, so no one will go there. But the homeless will want to camp next to the traffic. Makes sense… sure, seems logical. And yes, let’s improve a community center a couple miles away from Ballard while we continue to have too little green space relative to our density here.
    Also. How many buildings along these two blocks along 14th don’t have at least one parking spot per unit. I think it’s around one, maybe two. It’s also that a lot of people with garages don’t bother to actually park their cars there. So we’ll be just fine.

  16. As a resident of this neighborhood who lives on the one of the blocks, I feel I need to put my two cents in about this. First off I want to say that there are ideas and points from both sides that are equally important. While I too value green spaces and parks for people to come together and be outside, I think the location and process for this particular park was not well thought out or planned. In addition to that the current residents in this area were not taken into consideration. The reason that most people are frustrated in regards to parking is that not all the buildings offer enough parking for the amount of units they have. The ones that due offer parking charge a large amount of money to secure a parking spot. With this construction going on we now have to park one to two blocks away from our home. This example right here is were people of all income brackets are not taken into consideration. It is easy for one to see that this park is a good idea when they own a house or condo with a driveway or parking spot that is theirs to come to everyday. But did we really stop to consider those who also work hard in fields such as education, or the service industry that make just enough to get by and pay their rent. This is were I feel that intentional listening and communication were not present. There are plenty of spaces in Ballard that would be well suited for a park or “green space” but unfortunately those spaces are we being designated for new condos and townhomes. I feel that all of our activism should be shared in trying to stop, slow or find a way regulate the pace of what gets built and where.

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