Ballard Commons Park to reopen in early 2023

After a year of being closed to the public for renovations, Ballard Commons Park is set to reopen in early 2023.

An exact date is still in the works, but Seattle Parks says to expect a grand reopening sometime during the first quarter of the year.

The parks department has made a number of renovations and rehabilitations to the park, which closed in December 2021 following an encampment cleanup.

Renovations and rehabilitation to the park include the following:

  • Turf repair and landscaping: Seattle Parks repaired the turf, aerated, fertilized, and hydroseeded the grassy areas of the park. They replaced missing plants with sustainable vegetation, and replaced missing White Birch trees along with planting new trees. The parks department plans to conduct daily litter and garbage removal, daily hazardous material removal, weekly mowing, and pressure washing hard surfaces.
  • Hardscape infrastructure maintenance: The parks department converted the pedestrian lighting to LEDs and repaired the restroom plumbing and restroom locking system. Other recreation equipment repairs included bench refurbishment, replacing signs, installing a new rainbow, replacing missing skate stops, and replacing missing bollards. The department removed and painted over graffiti and added concrete paving in some areas for new bike racks.
  • Spray park maintenance: Crews changed out the sand and gravel in the spray park and installed a manual filter bypass for the spray area, along with some other upgrades to keep it good working condition.

Other additional installations that are still being carried out includes:

  • Five new benches
  • Cafe-style lighting
  • Irrigation system for new trees
  • Continued progress toward play area project, which should be constructed in the second half of 2023

Rachel Schulkin from Seattle Parks says that when the park reopens, people should expect regular park concierge and busker presence, along with a schedule of park activities. They hope to see ongoing “positive communty activation” at Ballard Commons.

District 6 Councilmember Dan Strauss told My Ballard he’s working with the City of Seattle to make it easy for community members to apply for free permits for park activities.

Strauss also pointed out that Ballard Commons was in dire need of an upgrade, saying it hadn’t had much in the way of maintenance since it opened in 2005.

One project that Strauss said didn’t make it into the current round of funding was an expanded skate park area. Strauss said he’d like to see an intermediate skating area—the current skate bowl really caters to more advanced skaters, and there’s not a great area for less-advanced skaters in the current park.

“We have the water features, which are good for [kids ages] 0 to 5, there’s the skate space for 15- to 17-year-olds and up, and there’s not much in between. The children’s playground will help for kids ages 5 to 10, but we still need to figure out what the 10- to 15-year-olds are going to do. We need a space at the park for them, too,” Strauss said.

In regards to the homelessness situation at Ballard Commons, Strauss said the city’s homelessness response is “in a different place today” than when the park closed a year ago. Rather than citywide homelessness response resources being spread thin, a regional care team means that workers can be geographically centered and address situations more swiftly.

“Success is not clearing a park, success is getting people inside, success is changing the way our neighborhood looks feels, and operates,” Strauss wrote in a recent blog update about the park.

“I’ve long said that our parks, our libraries, and our buses should not be homeless shelters because we need shelters and housing operating at the scale of our crisis. We need real, lasting solutions tailored to move people inside and, once there, stay on a path toward permanent housing.”

The park is very nearly ready to reopen, but Strauss said they’re still waiting on lights and benches.

We’ll update you when the city announces an official reopening for the park.