Update on the 14th Ave NW Park

Since the March community involvement meeting, here has been some activity both behind the scenes and in the public news, so it’s time for an update.

For those who have been following our progress, you are aware that the 14th Ave NW park was awarded funds from the Seattle Parks and Green Spaces Levy back in August of 2010. These funds were allocated for acquiring new property within the Ballard Urban Village to create a park. Since the City already owns the 14th Ave NW right of way, no acquisition is needed, so the Parks Dept would like to use these funds to develop the park instead. This means getting permission from the Seattle Parks and Green Spaces Levy Oversight committee, City Council and the Mayor to transfer these funds from “acquisition” to “development”. Before going up in front of the Oversight committee in April and May of this year, the Parks Dept hired Mithun to work with the community, design the main concepts for this park and develop cost estimates. We are  happy to report that at the May meeting, the Parks Levy Oversight committee approved $2.9 million to be used in the development of the 14th Ave NW Park! We are now awaiting City Council’s approval, which according to a recent post by Council Member Sally Bagshaw,  could be as soon as late June/early July. Once the legislation is approved, The Parks Dept can begin the next phase, which is to bring back Mithun and the community for the next design phase and work through the SDOT Street Use Improvement Permit Process (SIP) to get this park built. If all goes well, construction should start sometime next year.

The current park design (seen above) by Mithun shows 2 blocks of park along the east side of 14th Ave NW between NW 59th and NW 61st. The gravel center median will be removed and 2-way side by side vehicle traffic will run along the west side. Per the Seattle Bicycle Master Plan, the right of way will also include dedicated north and south bound bicycle lanes. The current drawing shows a block and a half  transition from traffic separated by a median to side by side on each end of the park. Thanks to the EBCA’s persistence in getting approval to reduce the speed limit on 14th Ave NW north of Market St to 25mph., the transitions should be reduced to just one block. The intersection at NW 60th will be designed to greatly improve crossing safety for all modes of transportation by incorporating a raised intersection. The park will also include a 13′ wide biofiltration swale that will not only  clean water runoff from north of the park before it enters Salmon Bay but will be a beautiful educational piece as well. Oh, and don’t forget the 29′ wide green space plus the 8′ wide existing sidewalk along the 2 blocks for strolling, respite and play!

The Parks Dept is moving ahead with their decision to not include street parking along the 2 block park. Street parking will be available along the transition blocks. This decision is what has allowed the park’s green space to be 29′ wide as opposed to 13′ (if parking was maintained on both sides of the street).  There has been some recent news (see links on our “In the News” page) about the loss of the 65-85 parking spaces currently provided in the gravel medians and curbs within the park footprint. In response to concerns that the original Parking Studies conducted by Fehr & Peers did not cover overnight parking use, the Parks Dept hired F&P to conduct an additional parking study between 2:30 and 3:30 am. With this additional study, F&P has concluded that, “…the park project would not have a substantial effect on the overall availability of local parking.”

These are exciting times for the East Ballard neighborhood where the new park with change forever the current lack of  green open space that is without having to cross a major arterial.  Thank-you to The Parks Dept for recognizing this need and providing us with this opportunity to transform 14th Ave NW into a space that will be loved and cherished by its community for generations to come.

–Dawn Hemminger is co-chair of the East Ballard Community Association

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