What to do with North Beach Park?

My first thought on seeing a meeting notice about the park was, “where the heck is North Beach Park?” Especially after reading the description posted on a sign near the Loyal Heights Community Center: “This 9.6 acre wooded ravine is a beautiful, wild green space and a valuable, unspoiled natural asset to your neighborhood.” Google Maps to the rescue. Here’s a rough outline of the property, based on the Parks Department’s description:

(Any errors in the outline are strictly my own.) It’s not so “unspoiled,” it turns out, according to the call for a discussion on preserving the park. “Seattle Parks is aware that inappropriate uses, including unauthorized trails, encroachments of private property on park land, illegal storm drain lines, yard waste dumping, and (gasp!) people allowing dogs off-leash in the park have occurred.” (That’s my gasp, not the parks department’s, BTW.)

The meeting is Wednesday, May 14, 7-8:30 p.m. at Loyal Heights Community Center, 2101 NW 77th St.

Webster Park will be saved, says Seattle Parks

Residents around Webster Park on Sunset Hill have been concerned that the public property could fall into developers’ hands. “Nothing could be farther from the truth!” Seattle Parks and Recreation Superintendent Tim Gallagher writes in a letter posted on the Ballard News-Tribune’s site today. “The city, Seattle Parks and Recreation and the Seattle School District are all working on a plan for the city to acquire the property and to keep it in park use.”

A little background. The park is owned by the school district (it was once the Webster Elementary playground), and the district is considering selling the property. The parks department wants to buy it, but the catch has been the price: the district appraised the plot at $1.6 million, but the mayor only designated $1 million in the budget. So residents launched a letter-writing campaign to keep the park, and it looks like their efforts have paid off. “While the school district’s appraisal indicates a higher value, I believe that we will be able to reach an agreement,” Gallagher says. Good news!

Speak up for Ballard parks on Earth Day

After you’ve done your bit to green the world on Earth Day, put on your hemp jacket and head over to the Ballard Community Center to help shape Seattle’s vision for parks and recreation. The Seattle Parks department is hosting series of public meetings on that subject and they’ll be in Ballard from 6:30-8:30 p.m., Tuesday at the Ballard Community Center, 6020 28th Ave. NW. 

By the way, we’ve seen plenty of spirited laments in comments about the lack of local green space, as well as some great ideas for improving the situation. While this may come as a shock to some of you, MyBallard.com is probably not a primary source of public opinion for the parks department (unbelievable, you say!), so we encourage you to raise your voices at the meeting. Oh, and while you’re there, tell ’em MyBallard.com sent ya…

Garage sale at new park property

The outgoing owners of Ballard’s newest city park at 70th St. and 9th Ave. are a holding a garage sale this weekend (they’re moving by the end of the month), so we decided to stop by to get a better look at the property.

The property is larger than it looks when you combine all the gardens and backyards. Here, they’re selling a bunch of old gardening tools.

The landscaping in back is in very good shape.

But things get interesting when we descended into the basement of the largest building, which years ago was the Seventh Elect Church in Israel commune (the sign says, “Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.”) Here we found an antique washing machine, a row of old toliets, Bibles from the 1950s, widemouth jars, antique vanities and mirrors, and other old, moldy stuff.

Second time’s a charm for 9th Ave. park

Back in 1993 the City of Seattle tried to purchase the land on 9th Ave. & 70th St. to build a park but the Seventh Elect Church in Israel didn’t want to sell. Now, 15 years later, the now-defunct spiritual group is getting $3 million for the piece of land. The city council voted unanimously on Monday to buy the property and the sale is scheduled to close on April 30th. Neighbors of the park are already taking an active role in the park. David Harris of the parks department tells one of our readers that the structures will eventually be taken out and the hedge will be pruned, but public input will be an integral part of how the park will look.

As Jahara reminded us in comments (and we just swung by to see for ourselves), there’s a garage sale there Saturday and Sunday “to get rid of furniture and other stuff the previous occupants left behind.”

Saving surplus school property from developers

Residents who live near Webster Park are being reassured by city officials that they intend to buy the property from the Seattle School District to keep it out of the hands of developers. The land next to the Nordic Heritage Museum was recently assessed at $1.6 million, substantially above the $1 million Mayor Greg Nickels got in the 2008 budget.

In the Seattle PI: “Fear not; we’ll negotiate a deal with the district,” said Donald Harris, manager of property and acquisitions for the Department of Parks and Recreation, on Tuesday.

In related surplus news, the Seattle Public School District is holding a public hearing at 7:30 p.m., Thursday in the Allen School Building, 6532 Phinney Ave. N., to discuss the fate of the two surplus school buildings there. You might better know them as the home of the Phinney Neighborhood Association. The PNA, which has been leasing the historic buildings, is negotiating to buy them as part of a multi-million dollar capital campaign.

Alert neighbor alerts city to park idea

The city’s plans to buy a parcel of land on 9th Ave. near 70th for a new city park has won raves from folks in the neighborhood. And now we know who to give the credit: Alyssa Smith, who lives across the street from the property. She says she heard realtors were shopping the land (which was once a Love Israel commune) and she called the city right away. The sellers “never put a sign out,” Smith told the Seattle PI. “The city went as fast as it could. We’re just excited it’s going to be a park; everyone is pretty happy.” Meanwhile, My Ballard reader Elizabeth says she attended last week’s meeting on the park. “The park is pretty much a done deal,” she writes. “Everyone there was in support. Some folks that live in homes bordering or across the street from the property brought up concerns with traffic, hedges, maintenance, etc… all valid concerns.” The city council is expected to approve the deal on April 14th.

A hedge blocks any view of the property from the street.

But this is what you see if you poke your head over the gate.

City to buy park space in East Ballard

The City of Seattle plans to purchase a plot of land on 9th Ave between 70th and 73rd for a new park, reports the Ballard News-Tribune. The park will be a little less than an acre in size. “This was an area that was lightly colored in terms of park density. But we are making some progress,” said Mayor Greg Nickels, who said the city is trying to find another space in the same general area. The next step is to find the money to develop the lot.

Update: Sean in comments says he lives a block away, and the land was once a garden compound owned by Love Israel, a spiritual community. In the late 60s, Love Israel began on Queen Anne and expanded to communal households in surrounding neighborhoods. Now they’re largely centered in Bothell and a rural village along the Columbia River. Fascinating.

Surprising view at Sunset Hill Park

A glimpse of the Olympics this morning convinced me to cycle out of my way to check out the view at Sunset Hill Park. (OK, don’t give me grief about the low quality, what can you expect from a 2mp camera phone?)

Such untarnished beauty is always a pure moment of Zen.
Then I turned around and saw this:

Hey, graffiti is something you’re going to see occasionally, but this really surprised me. Does it seem like there’s more graffiti lately? What gives?

Update: Don’t know if this is related, but according to this story, graffiti is on the rise in West Seattle and the people doing it there have been known to tag in Ballard too.