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.

Ballard Playfield is getting an upgrade

If you’ve visited the Ballard Playfield on NW 60th St. next to the community center recently, you know it could use an upgrade.

The city has set aside $1.6 million to refurbish the two baseball fields, and you’re invited to a meeting on Monday evening to hear the details.

The plan is to install “state of the art synthetic turf systems” and energy-efficient field lighting “which minimizes spill light and glare off the field.” The project will also bring the facility up to code with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

All this work will result in closing the Playfield during construction, which is planned for next year.

Seattle Parks and Recreation will hold a community meeting on Monday, June 11 from 7 to 8 p.m. at Ballard Community Center, 6020 28th Ave. NW. to talk about the project.

(Archive photo from last year via Google Maps)

Neighbors organize new group to take better care of Salmon Bay Park

After a report of a sexual assault in January — and growing concerns about graffiti and drug use — Loyal Heights neighbors have formed a new group to take better care of Salmon Bay Park.

It’s called the Salmon Bay Park Stewards, “a grassroots group dedicating to ensuring Salmon Bay Park remains a safe, beautiful, vibrant place for all.”

Among the group’s priorities: establish a block watch group, apply for public funding to revitalize the park and organize social events to connect with neighbors.

Organizers are looking for anyone who’s interested in joining. The group’s kickoff meeting is Thursday, March 22nd at 6:30 p.m. at Ballard Homestead. If you’re interested in attending, you’re asked to RSVP by this Friday by emailing

Help the city decide how to spend $3 million

The city of Seattle has received over 1,000 ideas for small-scale improvements to parks and streets, and now it needs help sifting through them all. At stake is $3 million allocated in this year’s budget for the best ideas.

Here’s how it works: The city is holding several meetings in each council district. During these meetings, each district narrows down the list to 8 to 10 ideas. Then those ideas will be put up for a community vote, and a city steering committee will choose how much of the $3 million is allocated to each of the districts.

Got it? Ok, here’s the list of meetings in our district below. In each meeting, neighbors will evaluate ideas that are in close proximity to the meeting’s location (so pick your closest spot.).

“These meetings are simply conversations with neighbors about submitted project ideas in your community,” explains the city. “Participants will discuss the projects in small groups and then individually score ideas based on physical need and community benefit.”

February 23, 6:15 – 8:15pm
Crown Hill Community Center – 9250 14th Ave NW

March 1, 5:30 – 7:30pm
Ballard Branch Library – 5614 22nd Ave NW

March 6, 5:30 – 7:30pm
Fremont Branch Library – 731 N 35th St

March 28, 6 – 8pm
Greenwood Senior Center – 525 N 85th St

For more information, you can visit the Your Voice, Your Choice website here.

Tree smashes into Loyal Heights Playfield

It’s a good thing the Loyal Heights Playfield is slated to get new equipment, because a large tree landed right on top of the play structure.

The tree toppled over in the high winds last night, crushing a bench and coming to rest on top of the structure. Fortunately no kids were playing at the time, and there are no injuries. It’s unclear how much damage was sustained by the structure.

As you might imagine, the area is now taped off and closed.

As we’ve been reporting, the city is in the middle of a $600,000 project to replace the play equipment at the park. Just last week, the city held a final community meeting to review the designs before construction begins.

Construction is scheduled for fall of this year, but we wonder if this latest event will move things along a little faster. We’ll keep you updated.

(Photos by @Mary_BethG on Twitter. She has a couple more photos here.)

Briefs: Ballard Commons, Nickelsville, Loyal Heights, Joli and more

A hodgepodge of Ballard news to share from our inbox…

BALLARD COMMONS: The Seattle PI published a story about Seattle Police handing out $500 trespassing tickets to campers at Ballard Commons Park last month. We talked with Will Lemke with the city, and he confirmed the tickets were handed out by officers — and that they’re unenforceable. The city’s “navigation team” is working to notify those who received the tickets that they will not have to pay the fines.

NICKELSVILLE: Lemke also tells us there’s no new information on when Ballard Nickelsville will make the move to Northlake, which has been delayed from the target date of mid-December. “But we will have news to share shortly,” he said.

SALMON BAY ASSAULT: Speaking of non-updates, SPD says there’s no new info in the Salmon Bay Park assault case. We know there’s a lot of interest in the case, and we’ll keep checking.

LOYAL HEIGHTS PLAY AREA: The final community meeting for the Loyal Heights Play Area renovation project is on Monday, February 12, 2018 at 7 p.m. at the Loyal Heights Community Center. Parents are encouraged to bring their children.

OCEAN BEAUTY SEAFOODS: We did a story earlier this week about Keyport moving out of Ballard, and KIRO 7 spoke with Ocean Beauty Seafoods, another Ballard seafood company that’s moving most its operation out of the neighborhood. They made the announcement last year.

JOLI HIRE: The 65th St. restaurant and bar Joli has hired the highly-regarded bar manager, Robert Rowland, who worked for a decade crafting cocktails at Oliver’s Twist.

NEIGHBORHOOD MATCHING FUND: One of the best ways to fund neighborhood improvements, the Seattle Neighborhood Matching Fund is holding a workshop on Wednesday, January 31, at 6 p.m. at the Phinney Neighborhood Center, 6532 Phinney Ave N.

Have news to share? Email or submit events directly to the calendar.

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