Zip line and ropes course in Lincoln Park being considered; Public meetings set
Controversy has arisen over the proposal from U.K. company Go Ape
A proposed ropes and zip line course that would be installed in Lincoln Park has met with opposition from the community. Last August Seattle Parks selected a 10 year old company from the United Kingdom called Go Ape to begin the development of a proposal for a six to 9 acre area in the park that would combine rope ladders, zip lines, rope bridges, trapezes and swings. The company operates 27 such parks in the U.K. and three so far in the U.S.
Concerns about disturbing the natural environment of the park have arisen with a Facebook page called Stop the Go Ape Zip line being established as a rallying point. The company has faced opposition before, and their plans were halted in two U.K locations.
A blog page called Preserve Lincoln Park has been created by West Seattle resident Mark Ahlness where more discussion and updates can be found. So far people commenting seem to be opposed based on the impact to the trees, animal habitat, potential noise and the disruption of the serenity of the park. Calls for slogans, T-Shirts and emailing Parks officials and company owners to protest are being discussed.
Their proposal (see the link above) calls for development to begin in late spring 2013 with the full course to be complete in less than six weeks.
The proposal lists the potential benefits as:
• An annual revenue share of 40 to 65k/ year to Seattle Parks
• Go Ape completely indemnifies Seattle Parks and the City of Seattle of all course responsibility
• Go Ape will actively manage the health of the trees and park land, with annual independent arborist review, organized park cleanups and non-‐native invasive
• Educational signage will be displayed on the course to inform visitors on the importance of conservation and
• A new outdoor adventure amenity for park visitors, with over 500 free tickets provided to Seattle programs, charitable organizations, low income and underserved youth
• Work with Seattle Schools to provide some level of free or low costs access to the course
• As a physical activity, Go Ape will promote health and wellness in the local Seattle community
• The course is accessible to 95% of the special needs community
• 12 new and well-‐rewarded jobs will be provided to local residents
• Work with Parks to partner and collaborate in potential sponsorship and support of other programs and services
While the proposed course would bring in up to an estimated $65,000, fiscal reasons are not at the top of the list insists the Parks Department.
Karen O'Connor, Communications Strategic Advisor for Seattle Parks and Recreation said Parks "has begun to consider the possibility of a ropes course because we believe we must respond to emerging forms of recreation. As we saw with skateboard courses and synthetic turf, new forms of recreation bring unanswered questions.
The only way that Seattle Parks can provide a recreational opportunity like this is in conjunction with a partner organization, such as Go Ape, which would bring its extensive experience and expertise, as well as funding needed to create the course. Parks has a history of partnering with non-profits, for profits and other organizations to deliver quality services that meet the variety of interests and needs of our diverse communities.
For over a year, Parks has been conducting our internal due diligence to see if constructing a High Ropes Course in a park was feasible and desirable. We are taking additional steps, including working with Dept of Fish and Wildlife to determine potential impacts on habitat and wildlife."
O'Conner explained that Rebecca Salinas, Manager, Partnerships and Business Resources "spoke with Carla Brittle who worked as the Management and Resource Administrator in Willamburg, Va during the Go Ape construction that occurred in Freedom Park. The course just opened over spring break. She said they are “thrilled” with the course and it is a “win-win” situation. She told Rebecca she was impressed with Go Ape’s conscientious conservation policy."
O'Conner explained that, "Go Ape deliberately manages course usage to limit traffic and burden on the park. 88% of reservations are taken on-line are via a call center as there is a limited capacity of participants each session.
We anticipate only 25 parking spaces will be required for the course operations."
Lincoln Park has 138 spaces in the upper lot, including three handicapped spaces and 70 spaces in the lower lot, including two handicapped spaces.
There is additional parking on street nearby, though some is restricted.
Public meetings are now scheduled regarding the proposal. The first one is set for the Fauntleroy Community Association on Tuesday July 10 at 9131 California Ave s.w at 7pm, the Morgan Community Association on July 18 at The Kenney at 7125 Fauntleroy Way s.w. and plans are in the works to have a general public meeting in mid August.