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.

Help design the new Loyal Heights play area

The Loyal Heights playground is getting a $600,000 upgrade, thanks to the King County Parks Levy. And now the city needs your input to help to design it.

This is the play area that’s to the west of the Loyal Heights Community Center. The plan is to replace the existing play equipment, bring the playground up to ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) standards and make some other safety and feature improvements in the park.

The first community meeting is this Monday at 7 p.m. at the Loyal Heights Community Center (2101 NW 77th). Seattle Parks & Rec.’s planner, project manager and landscape architect will discuss design ideas. Children are welcome. Light snacks and children’s activities will be available.

Seattle Parks is also circulating an online survey to gather feedback, and there will be a second meeting on February 12th at 7 p.m. to review the preferred design.

Construction is slated to begin in Fall 2018.

Neighborhood groups want more time as City Light looks to sell properties

Seattle City Light is considering selling seven properties in the greater Ballard area that were once used for power substations. With the deadline rapidly approaching, Groundswell NW and the Seattle Green Spaces Coalition say they need more time to see if the land can be adapted into parks, P-patches or other community spaces.

The city says it’s required to price the properties at “fair market value” as determined by the assessor’s office, which ranges from $330,000 to $978,960 in Seattle’s red-hot real estate market. We’ve mapped the locations, names and price tags of each of the properties:

The city’s Office of Housing has expressed interest in two of the sites, Loyal Heights and Phinney, for possible affordable housing developments, according to City Light.

Groundswell NW board member Dave Boyd says the group has been tracking these properties for years. “By bundling seven of these sites for disposition, [City Light] has put the community at a disadvantage,” he told My Ballard. “After waiting for years to find out when the process will begin, we are faced with a tight timeline for several sites that have potential for community use.”

Boyd points to Pocket Park on 6th and 76th as an example of how an old City Light substation has been converted into a community space. “Groundswell acted as fiscal sponsor of the community group that got Neighborhood Matching Fund and other grants to develop a gem of a corner park,” he explains.

Seattle Green Spaces Coalition agrees the city is moving too quickly, arguing that the “need for the sale at this time as not been properly addressed.”

(Loyal Heights location on left, Ballard on right)

All this is shaping up for a lively public hearing, which is scheduled for this Thursday, Nov. 16th at 7 p.m. at the Ballard First Lutheran Church on NW 65th St. The deadline for public comment, in writing, is due a day later on the 17th.

Boyd says Groundswell NW anticipates making a formal request to the city council to delay the sale of several of the properties “to give the community time to further prioritize and develop support for community use of these sites.”

“As an all-volunteer organization, we have learned that these projects can be accomplished, but they take time,” he said.

Two Ballard play areas set to close for renovation

Gilman Playground (923 NW 54th St) and Webster Park (3025 NW 68th St) play areas are scheduled to close beginning Monday, September 5, for approximately four months for renovation.

During construction, the Gilman Playground basketball court and surrounding area will be closed; however, the comfort station, east/west walkway and associated stairs and sports fields will remain open. At Webster Park the play area and basketball court will be closed for the duration of construction.

Both play area renovation projects will replace the play equipment, provide access improvements and install new park furnishings. Thank you to everyone who attended the public meetings and provided input on the improvements.

The Seattle Park District provides the funding for these play area improvement projects.

Click here to find out more information about the projects and construction updates.

If you have questions about the projects please contact Katie Bang from Seattle Parks and Recreation at (206) 684-9286 or

CBRA to discuss future of Ballard parks at monthly meeting

Central Ballard Residents Association (CBRA) will meet this Thursday, November 13, at 7 p.m. at Ballard Swedish Hospital, cafeteria conference room.

Dan Johnson, Division Director of Seattle Parks, and Patrick Merriam, North Parks Manager, will be in attendance to speak about the futures of parks in the Ballard area.

All locals who are interested are encouraged to attend and to bring their questions.

To find out more about CBRA click here to check out their website.

Discovery Park Loop Trail closed today

Seattle Parks and Recreation crews have closed the Discovery Park Loop Trail (93801 Discovery Park Blvd) along the park’s south bluff today until 2 p.m. and, if needed it will be closed tomorrow Tuesday, January 28 from 8 a.m. until trail repair is complete.

Seattle Parks is providing much-needed repairs on the southwest section of the trail. The 2.8-mile Loop Trail roughly follows the perimeter of Seattle Parks’ largest park.

For questions about the trail work please contact Michele Thurmond at or 423-2860. For more information about the park click here.

Design meeting tonight for Ballard’s newest park

Learn more about Ballard’s newest park at a public meeting tonight.

The park will run along two blocks of 14th Avenue NW from NW 59th Street and NW 61st Street. At tonight’s meeting, Mithun, the design consultant, will present three design options, talk about the history of the project and give a site analysis.

One of the sketches of the park boulevard plan presented to the Ballard District Council in February.

Here is the project description from the website:

The Parks and Green Spaces Levy provides approximately $1.5 million for design and construction of the 14th Avenue Park Boulevard.

The purpose of the project is to convert two full blocks and two half blocks of 14th Ave NW between NW 58th and NW 62nd from an existing concrete roadway and gravel parking median to green space with green infrastructure and park elements and incorporate safety improvements for pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles.

The blocks between NW 59th and NW 61st will be completely converted and the half block north and south will be converted and used as transition lanes.

Tonight’s meeting is from 7 – 9 p.m. at St. Alphonsus Parish School (5816 15th Ave NW.) Construction on the park boulevard is expected to start later this year, with completion in 2013.

Final chance to comment on new play area for Golden Gardens

The Seattle Parks Department will show off its designs and construction drawings for the new play area at Golden Gardens.  The community is invited to the final design meeting next Wednesday, October 13 from 6:30pm to 7:30pm at the Golden Gardens Bathhouse.  As we’ve reported, the play area will be moved from its current location to east of the bathhouse.

Drawing of new play area. Click here to see more images.

Construction is slated to start in January of 2011 and finish in May 2011. You can keep up to date on this project through this website. This project is funded through the 2008 Parks & Green Spaces Levy.

Final Kirke Park design revealed at movie night

About 100 neighbors in Whittier Heights gathered in Kirke Park on 9th Ave. NW and 70th St. last night to snack on popcorn and watch the movie “Up.” They also perused the final landscape design for the property.

The design (below) features a p-patch, a secret garden (those concrete walls will be lowered to 3-feet high), a small orchard, a narrow “skatedot” for skateboarders, a play area for the kids, and an adventure trail with small climbing boulders along the back fence. The biggest change from the previous design is the gathering area in middle, which now mirrors the layout of a home, from a “front porch” entrance to a “back porch” area with picnic tables.

(Click the image to see full screen).

Representatives from SiteWorkshop, the landscape design firm, answered questions from neighbors and provided a timeline for what happens next: construction plans in November, then the project goes out to bid, and construction will begin in February. “The new park as you see on the board there will be ready for next year’s movie night, sometime in the early summer,” said Clayton Beaudoin, a landscape designer.

There have been three community meetings leading up to the design, which is “pretty final,” we’re told — although the designers said they’re still entertaining ideas and feedback from the community. You can contact Friends of 9th Ave Park at

Two new Ballard-area parks now have names

Two new Ballard-area parks now have official names.

The newly-named Kirke Park on 9th Ave NW

The 1.71 acre park in Crown Hill located at Holman Road NW and 13th Avenue NW will appropriately be named Crown Hill Park.

The park on 9th Ave NW between NW 70th and NW 73rd has a more unique name. Seattle Parks and Recreation Acting Superintendent Christopher Williams has named the park Kirke Park. “Kirke” means church in Norwegian. According to the Parks Department, this name pays tribute to both the Norwegian heritage of the neighborhood and the history of the site. This site was home to the Church of Seventh Elect in Spiritual Israel for nearly 100 years.