Gemenskap Park community meeting tonight

If you live near the new Gemenskap Park on 14th Ave. NW, there’s a community meeting tonight (Thursday) that you may want to attend.

The East Ballard Community Association (EBCA) and St. Alphonsus have teamed up with Seattle PD, Parks and Recreation and the Department of Neighborhoods to hold a meeting to “share concerns as well as ideas to ensure the park and surrounding neighborhood remain a safe and vibrant place for our community.”

The meeting runs from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the St. Alphonsus Family Center (1415 NW 58th St).

Then this Saturday, EBCA is inviting volunteers on the “Summer Clean Sweep,” cleaning up 14th Ave. NW and the park site. Food and beverages will be served, and kids are invited, too. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Meet at Blowing Sands Glass on 14th Ave. NW and NW 58th St.

While not quite complete — landscaping has been delayed due to utility work — Gemenskap Park is expected to open later this summer.

(Gemenskap Park photo from EBCA. You can see more here).

New Gemenskap Park waits for utility work

With most of the street work complete, 14th Ave. NW has reopened to traffic through the Gemenskap Park construction project.

But workers are waiting for utility hookups before they can place the plants and grass, according to Seattle Parks and Recreation.

“We are in the queue for SPU to tap the main and install the meter which hooks up to our irrigation. We are also in the queue for SCL to install power to the meter which powers the irrigation controller and lights,” explains Toby Ressler with Seattle Parks.

There’s no estimate on how long this will take. The goal was to have the new park up and running by the end of spring.

Gemenskap Park still on schedule

Construction work to build a new park along 14th Ave. NW between 59th and 61st is running on schedule, according to Seattle Parks.

Gemenskap Park is going in on the east side of 14th Ave., shifting both lanes to the west and removing the middle parking area. The park will feature a green space, rain gardens and wider sidewalks (as you can see above along the right.)

When we checked this week, Seattle Parks confirmed that workers are still on track to complete the project in “late spring.” In the meantime, 14th Ave. remains closed to traffic.

By the way, Gemenskap is the Swedish word for “community,” and it’s pronounced Yuh-MEN-skawp. We’re still practicing.

City to remove trees at Gemenskap Park site, new trees to be planted

Construction is underway at Ballard’s newest park on 14th Ave. NW, and you may have already noticed the road is now closed between 58th and 60th.

As part of the Gemenskap Park project, crews have marked 12 trees along the east side of the street to be cut down — all but a large maple tree that lives between 59th and 60th, according to the East Ballard Community Association (EBCA). The marked trees include 11 Kwanzan cherry trees and one big leaf maple tree.

Here’s the view from Google, looking east, of the trees along the east side of 14th Ave.:

We received a note from one reader — who included Seattle Parks in the email — urging the city to protect the trees marked for removal.

“(The) Parks Dept. is interested in mowing down trees instead of accommodating and working WITH existing trees,” he wrote. “When is the city and its agencies going to step up and protect our tree canopy?”

The EBCA did some research on the trees and discovered the city’s arborist advised that the cherry trees were infected with an invasive insect and the maple was “high risk.” The other maple, which will remain, was deemed healthy.

The project calls for 24 new trees to be planted to replace the 12 that will be removed — 6 of the new trees will be 14-feet tall when planted.

“Although we will be losing the spring blossoms from the cherries, the new trees were selected for their spring flowering nature and many will have beautiful colors in the fall,” explains the EBCA.

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.