Overwhelmingly opposed to ziplines in Lincoln Park

Dear Editor,

I write to express my vehement opposition to installing zip lines in Lincoln Park. According to recent news reports, the Seattle Parks Department has been in clandestine talks with a for profit private company, GoApe Ziplines, for a year.

My West Seattle neighbors and many friends who enjoy Lincoln Park are overwhelmingly opposed to the idea of ziplines in the park. Fundamentally, my opposition is based upon my belief that the primary purpose of a city park is to enable city dwellers to experience the peace and majesty of nature even if they can't afford to travel to a wilderness area. Obviously, people whizzing overhead on ziplines in the heart of the old growth trees of Lincoln Park is antithetical to more traditional enjoyment of the park, i.e., quiet walks or runs with family, friends and/or pets; picnics; meditation; reading, etc. Ziplines would deprive people who go to the park for quiet or contemplative activities of its use. GoApe's own promotional video for its ziplines shows a man running along a path with screaming, yelling zipline users overhead.

An issue of at least equal importance to me is the impact that ziplines would have on wildlife in Lincoln Park, particularly nesting eagles and owls. Numerous credible people who use the park heavily can attest to the current presence of eagles and other wildlife, including juvenile eagles, and a Seattle University Professor recently photographed a juvenile eagle.

I want to be clear that I oppose ziplines in Lincoln Park regardless of whether the Seattle Parks Department has good answers to the questions below. But because the Department claims that its consideration of ziplines in Lincoln Park is based upon "revenue generation":

1) Since ziplining is an inherently dangerous activity, the City will need insurance coverage. Who will insure the City? How much will this insurance cost? What will the policy limits be, and if they are exceeded, who will pay for personal injury claims related to zipline use?

The national news media have recently covered a story about a young girl in Georgia who injured herself on a zipline there, then contracted a flesh-eating bacteria when she sought medical treatment for her injuries which caused her to lose her hands. Under the doctrine of res ipse loquitor, the tortfeasor responsible for her original injury (the zipline operator) could be held liable by a jury for all of her injuries. Where the possibility of serious injuries is significant, isn't the liability risk which the Department would undertake unreasonable?

2) Who will maintain the ziplines, and how much will that cost? Who will oversee zipline use, and how will that person be paid?

3) Since it would be negligent to simply leave ziplines sitting in an open park where they would be subject to vandalism and even terroristic damage, how will the ziplines be secured when the park is closed? Will the Department hire a "round the clock" security guard and if so, at what cost? If the Department will install cameras to monitor the ziplines, won't the area need to be lit? And isn't it undisputed that such lighting does disrupt the circadian rhythms of the birds and other wildlife?

4) What impact will the ziplines have on other revenue-generating users of Lincoln Park? The park has been used for Campfire Girls' day camp and is a recurring destination for school field trips.

Congestion around Lincoln Park is already a problem which will only be worsened by the addition of ziplines. Assuming that the ziplines would generate revenue by drawing many people who are willing to pay the anticipated cost of zipline rides, $35 to $55, to Lincoln Park, there is insufficient parking to accomodate increased traffic.

This issue is a bellwether, indicative of the vision our elected leaders have for the City of Seattle. Lincoln Park, with its magnificent old redwoods and wildlife, is a glorious part of this City's heritage. Will they protect it? Are their claims that they are "environmentalists" truthful?

K. Carolyn Ramamurti

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