Show Your Support for Wedgwood Parks & Open Space

Please take a moment to sign our petition and show your support for Wedgwood’s parks and open space!

The WCC’s Parks Committee has been working to improve Wedgwood’s parks and open space in the hopes of closing the gap identified by the City which has determined north Wedgwood to be lacking in usable park space.  Through the City’s 2008 Parks & Green Spaces Levy, the Morningside Substation is being pursued for acquisition on behalf of our community by the City’s Parks Department.  However, no funds are available to design or develop the former Seattle City Light substation for it to actually become a park in the near future.  In fact, we’ve applied for such funds but have been told that the Parks Department has put a moratorium on future park design and development until their maintenance funding is addressed.  So, while the acquisition moves forward, we do not know when we will be able to complete a design for the future park or when the park would be constructed.

Similarly, Wedgwood has a some park space that is currently unusable since much of it is a steep, wooded ravine.  The Inverness Ravine Park is a wooded park with SDOT right-of-way that connects it to multiple roads for potential access points.  While it does have steep slopes, there is space and topography that would accommodate a pedestrian trail system through the park, connecting the Wedgwood and North Inverness neighborhoods together.  The WCC Parks Committee presented a concept for the Inverness Ravine Park Trail through the Parks Department’s Opportunity Fund.  The project was endorsed by the Northeast District Council and Feet First.  It was also initially ranked very highly by the Parks Department, although it appears that it too will not be funded.

We have created this petition to gather signatures during the first few weeks of May to be able to show the community’s support of these two projects and of improving Wedgwood parks and open space in general. Currently, the Parks Department is hosting a series of meetings for their Legacy Plan which is expected to result in a levy for voters to approve park funding in 2014.  We hope to give the signatures to the Parks Department at the May 21st meeting to show our community’s support for parks and to request that Wedgwood’s two park projects (Morningside Substation and Inverness Ravine Park Trail) are funded through the levy.

11 Replies to “Show Your Support for Wedgwood Parks & Open Space”

  1. I like seeing WCC be proactive on this issue, but I’m a bit confused given WCC’s past dismissal of supporting and saving open space in Wedgwood and in NE Seattle in general. The open space at Thornton Creek Elementary is in dire jeopardy of all but disappearing because the Seattle School District is planning for a 1,000 student campus on the property. Where is WCC in promoting its protection?

    I will most likely sign this petition because I love Wedgwood and this community, but I remain disappointed in WCC’s inconsistent approach to supporting parks and open space in the area.

    1. Thanks Satcha! It may seem confusing, but hopefully this clarifies it. The petition we’re hoping folks sign is to support improvements at Seattle Parks Department owned properties within a likely 2014 levy that’s being developed now. The open space at Thornton Creek Elementary is owned by the Seattle School District and is a) not owned by the City and b) is the location of a new school that Seattle voters approved.

      The WCC has been working with the School District to integrate the neighborhood into the design process so that the school and the open space meet the needs of our NE Seattle students, the neighbors, and the community as a whole.

  2. I attended the Parks Department meeting at Northgate, and I learned how underfunded the Parks are and how critical the need is for maintenance. The little parks the WCC has promoted would be delightful spaces to sit and chat or stroll through but we are about to lose the last large open space in our community that is available for active play. Saving this space should be our priority. It is open to all after school hours, on weekends, and all summer.

    Unlike the Parks Department, the School District has a bunch of money to spend on building. What they plan to do with it here is to create a campus for a thousand elementary-school kids in two schools. Details of this plan get tweaked but it is still on the table.

    In the Wedgwood Vision Plan, the Playfields were identified as a place that could be upgraded for community use. One could have more plantings and landscaping bordering he open space and benches to sit and visit as well. The Playfield were intended from the beginning to be a joint-use space.

    The School District has a problem with overcrowding. And, there are ways to solve it that don’t involve paving over the last useable open space here and creating a traffic nightmare.

    Let’s ask that the City Light Substation be identified as the next space to develop when funds are available and put our petitioning efforts into saving a far greater expanse of open space.

  3. Hi Louisa, this petition does exactly what you suggest, which is to say it asks the Parks Department to prioritize the design and development of the Morningside Substation for a park as our neighborhood is deficient in park space. Not to mention the potential loss of open space at Thornton Creek Elementary that you speak of.

  4. I found my earlier comment–in Facebook. Here it is for those not on FB:

    The playfields were a shared School-Parks agreement in 1965 when the School District acquired it from the federal government. That use has been respected since then until the District decided they no longer needed to respect that, that their needs for more capacity took precedence. But now they say they don’t need the new school for an attendance-area school. Instead they want to grow the Options program in the new proposed building, which means busing kids in. There is now talk that instead of a new school, they may move to a remodel and expand the old Decatur building (this from Kay Smith-Blum, school board president). If we advocate for saving the fields and our community space (as promoted by the WCC Vision Plan), we may help push that decision in a way that will actually be better for the school district and certainly better for the sports leagues the Parks Dept. schedules there and for Wedgwood as a whole.

  5. The substation park is a terrific idea, but it is certainly not a substitute for a large open space that can be used for active play by families here. And, as someone pointed out, you can’t play soccer or baseball or have a catch in a ravine. These projects would be enhancements but couldn’t substitute for the loss of the Playfields.

    Perhaps you and our other WCC board members don’t realize the scope of the School District’s plan. I’ve talked to a construction manager who does large commercial projects; he can’t see any way to have any significant open space if there are two buildings plus necessary parking for staff, plus interior roadways and sidewalks. So far, the District planners remain committed to a campus with the potential for 1,000 students on this site, plus teachers and staff. It remains to be seen how much impact an advisory committee will have.

    If you do a thought experiment on how to schedule recess for 1,000 children, you may find that time is as much of a problem as the lack of space. For young children, recess is a requisite in order for learning to take place — not just something nice they can do without.

    Many parents would not welcome the idea of such a large campus for their young children.

    We need your help. Will you and the WCC board help us advocate for retaining this really important open space? There is no committee process or design inspiration that can make up for its loss and the awful traffic problems this proposal will cause if it is actually built.

  6. Per, the capital levy the voters passed said a new school “at Thornton Creek or equivalent site.” That gives the school district leeway to change their plans and for Wedgwood to advocate for saving the fields.

    Louisa is right about recess. Schools never have recess the first or last hours of the day. That leaves five hours. And you have two programs–the Option program with three recesses a day, and a regular attendance-area school (if that’s what it turns into) with one recess. Five hours would give two 20-minutes recesses per hour for a total of 10 recesses. If the Option program only had one recess (which they don’t) you would have, with a 1,000-student campus, 100 kids each recess on one artificial turf soccer field. With 3 recesses for the Option school, with 350 kids, you have the equivalent of 1,050 students plus the 650 regular kids, giving a total of 1,700 equivalent students, you’d have 170 kids on one soccer field. Did I figure that right?

    1. Louisa and Polly, you guys are tireless advocates for the Thornton Creek Elementary playfields. Bravo to your commitment. However, that doesn’t change the fact that Seattle voters have approved construction of a new NE Seattle K-5 school.

      The former substation site and Inverness Ravine are park owned lands that could be improved upon within the upcoming 2014 levy. That’s what our petition is requesting. The open space at Thornton Creek Elementary is park owned. Sure, Parks has been using that for playfields but that doesn’t change the fact that its owned by the School District and the District has the legal right to do with it what it wants as any property owner would.

      As Polly points out, it was for “Thornton Creek or equivalent site.” On April 1st, the District made a decision to build on the Thornton Creek site given their cost analysis of different options. At some point the District had to make a decision in order to have the new school designed/built by 2015 as it stated in the levy. So, they’ve made that decision now. The District’s revised plan also include moving the new Thornton Creek program to the new building. That means only 650 students (MAX) would be in the new building. Sure, we don’t know what will ultimately happen to the existing Decatur building, but you seem to be ignoring these certain facts in your analysis. No one wants to see the playfields gone, but again, we have no design of what the site will/could be. Also, there’s not been any traffic analysis that’s been done. So, while it’s clear that things will be changing at the site and is very likely that the playfields will be impacted, your analysis seems a bit premature in my opinion.

      Additionally, as I’ve told you before, the WCC is not in the business of deciding how best the School District should go about managing its capacity management. We have LOTS of Wedgwood kids stuck in portables as Wedgwood, View Ridge, Bryant AND Thornton Creek elementary schools are all overcrowded. Having wide open fields is great and preferable, but this is not the case at many schools. Is a new building going to solve every problem? Perhaps not. But its unacceptable for our kids to be stuck in portables.

      In the end it comes down to these facts.
      -The property is owned by the School District and they have the right to do with it what they want so long as they follow the appropriate process (which includes public review and public notice).
      -Seattle voters approved a new school at the site “or equivalent,” although the District has decided upon the Thornton Creek site now.
      -There is no design to review or critique yet. The District is just beginning a design.
      -Current District plans only include moving and growing the Thornton Creek Elementary School program into the new building, which would be designed to hold a MAX of 650 students, not 1,000.

      FYI, this is just my opinion and not any formal decision of the WCC or any other trustees.

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