Simone Alicea
Barry White, creator of Friends of Morgan Junction Parks wheels mulch around the pocket park on Saturday.

Friends of Morgan Junction Parks take care of their neighborhood

By Simone Alicea

Despite a busy West Seattle weekend, the newly created Friends of Morgan Junction Parks went on with their weeding and mulch party Saturday morning in an effort to encourage people to stop by the pocket park on California and Bevridge.

Barry White created the organization at the beginning of the summer in conjunction with the Morgan Community Association . White, a master gardening intern with King County Master Gardeners, wanted to encourage neighbors to take care of the park where the city couldn’t.

“As West Seattle becomes more urbanized, we’ll need visual counterpoints to all the concrete and glass,” White said. “People have a natural, sympathetic response that draws them to trees and plants.

The organization is registered with Seattle Parks, so there’s no interference with city-provided maintenance.

“At the same time a lot of parks came online, a lot of budgets to maintain the parks were cut,” White said. “This park was not getting the maintenance that it needed despite great efforts from the Seattle Parks Department.”

Terri Griffith owns the Beveridge Place Pub next door the park. She was one of the key players who helped put the park there in the first place.

“It was just natural for us to do a project like that,” Griffith said. “The whole thing was kind of amazing, how the pieces came together.”

Before the pub was a pub and the park was a park, the property was taken up by a video store and an auto shop, respectively. Griffith and her husband bought the property as a whole in 2006 and later subdivided and sold half of the lot to Parks.

“In any community I think open space and gathering space is important,” Griffith said. “It creates a focal point for people and maintaining it gives it a heart.”

Now the neighborhood is looking to possibly expand the park into the lot just north of the current park. The city announced that it was in negotiations to purchase that land in 2012, but Lise Ward, senior property agent for Seattle Parks said that the negotiations were ongoing and that there was no word on when an expansion might happen.

“There are a lot of negotiations, which have been taking longer than usual,” Ward said. “Expanding the existing park would be more advantageous than creating a second site.”

Ward said that this expansion would fall under the 2008 parks levy, but because the economy took a downturn in that year, the City has had to be more economical with how it buys lands for public parks. With an expansion, Parks will be able to reassess the maintenance budget of the whole park, rather than trying to redevelop a plan for two separate parks.

Friends of Morgan Junction Parks, however, have no intention of slowing down even if an expansion happens. That’s why they’ve got the word “parks” rather than “park” right in their name. White’s group also takes care of the traffic circle on Morgan Street just up the hill from the park.

“I live in the community and I see this park all the time,” White said. “I just have an interest in the park.”

You can LIKE the Friends of Morgan Junction Park on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/FoMJP

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