Parks/Open Space/Trails

There are only two parks in Seattle’s Greenwood neighborhood.

Although resident Leah Rivers lives a block from Sandel Park on First Avenue Northwest and Northwest 90th Street, she usually totes her two kids five blocks to Greenwood Park, with its quirky silver climbing structures and spinning merry-go-round.

That’s going to change when Sandel Park gets a facelift later this year.

At the March 27 open house, curious park-goers peeked at design templates drawn up by Karen Keist Landscape Architects, tweaked over the past few months as residents proposed suggestions.

“I’m really excited to have a place where our kids can spread out and play,” Rivers said. “It’ll be great to have it basically in our backyard.”

Most were pleased with the plans for the renovation, which will modify the playgrounds with new equipment, primarily geared toward younger children, improve visibility and enhance safety.

There’s just not much to do at the park in its current state, said Friends of Sandel Park chair Julie Gwinn.

“It doesn’t have much play value,” Gwinn said. “Kids can just walk up a ramp and jump off.”

Photo credit: 
Rachel Solomon.

Landscape architect Karen Keist, right, shows the design plan for Sandel Park to Greenwood resident Kate Martin. CLICK FOR MORE PHOTOS.

The Vision Greenwood Park Steering Committee has been meeting over the
winter to move the plan to develop and expand Greenwood Park forward.

The steering committee applied for and was awarded a second Seattle Department of Neighborhoods Small and Simple Grant for $17,500.

The grant will be used to fund the detailed drawings for the two vacant lots along Fremont Avenue and the additional facilities that will be added to the current park area.

The grant means construction on the park should be able to get underway soon, according to a Vision Greenwood Park Steering Committee press release.

The committee has also sent letters of intent to the Seattle Parks Levy Opportunity Fund (minimum $250,000 grant award) and the Seattle Neighborhood Matching Fund Large Project (up to $100,000 award).

The committee is working on the grant applications now for submission in

The committee plans to apply to King County for the County Youth Sports Facility Grants totaling $75,000 to help create the basketball area as well as
exercise stations around the perimeter of the park.

Photo credit: 
Courtesy of Site Workshop

A $17,500 grant received by Vision Greenwood Park means construction on the Greenwood Park redevelopment could get underway soon.

On March 24, CAST Architecture presented three design schemes for the solar power-generating park neighborhood residents are hoping to build on the site of the former Sunset Hill City Light substation.

CAST Architecture's three designs were built around trying maximize the power-generating ability of the site without sacrificing community space as well neighborhood input from two previous meetings.

The Big Roof Scheme includes a 15-foot-high solar array covering the entire site, which is located on Northwest 65th Street and 32nd Avenue Northwest behind Ristorante Picolinos.

Dark solar panels would be spread out on the array to let light through. A central community plaza would be protected from rain by solar panels and glass panels.

There would be a community building in the southwest corner of the park and a storage shed in the northeast corner. Shade gardens would be located east and west of the central plaza.

The Pair Scheme is laid out much like the Big Roof Scheme, except there are two solar arrays, one in the northeast corner and one in the southwest corner, instead of one.

This scheme allows for the most solar panels without losing public space.

Substation Scheme.jpg
Photo credit: 
Courtesy of CAST Architecture

A view underneath the solar array in CAST Architecture's Big Roof Scheme for a possible power-generating park on the site of the former City Light substation on Sunset Hill.

After a 10-year absence, a mob of eight meerkats will return to the Woodland Park Zoo this spring as part of the revamped Adaptations Building, which opens May 1.

Meerkats belong to the mongoose family and dwell in the savannas and grasslands of South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Angola.

The most social of the mongooses, meerkats live in packs of up to 30 individuals in the wild.

Meerkats will use their claws to dig underground burrows but spend much of the day outside foraging, babysitting, grooming and playing while a sentry keeps an eye out for danger.

Visitors will get an inside look at the animals’ semi-arid savanna habitat and observe as meerkats scamper into their tunnels, nurse their young or stand at attention atop the naturalistic outcroppings, behaving as sentinels.

A glimpse into a log den will create visual depth and give visitors a peek at life inside meerkat burrows, which serve as nesting and nursery rooms.

The public will be able to see the swiftness of these carnivores with daily bug feedings and learn about their social habits with keeper talks on Saturdays and Sundays during the zoo’s summer season.

Photo credit: 
Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo

Woodland Park Zoo's new exhibit featuring a mob of eight meerkats will open to the public May 1.

Wind? No problem. Specks of drizzle? Yeah, right.

After nine years, the residents of west Fremont weren’t going to let any pesky weather threaten their celebration as the Hazel Heights P-Patch opened March 21. They were just relieved the wait was finally over.

“It’s very exciting,” said Michael McNutt, treasurer of the P-Patch Trust. “It’s probably been one of the longest projects the trust has been involved in.”

Construction began on the steep, terraced site in May 2009, but locals have been canvassing for their own community garden for years.

When neighbor and namesake Hazel Hurlbert passed away in 2003, the lot next to her house at the corner of Northwest 42nd Street and Baker Avenue Northwest was left vacant.

The lot was later purchased for the P-Patch Trust by an anonymous Fremont couple.

But because the land was so steeply sloped, the site required a master use permit and State Environmental Police Act review before breaking ground, said Hazel Heights steering committee co-chair Toby Thaler.

Then began the fundraising process for the garden with a panorama of the Lake Washington Ship Canal and the Olympic Mountains.

Photo credit: 
Rachel Solomon

State Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles cuts the ribbon at the March 21 grand opening ceremony at the Hazel Heights P-Patch. CLICK IMAGE FOR MORE PHOTOS.

Seattle Parks and Recreation is hosting an open house at Sandel Park, located at 9053 First Ave. N.W., to view the design for the Sandel Park play area renovation.

The open house will be from 11 a.m. to noon on March 27. The public is encouraged to attend, meet the design team and learn about the changes that are coming to this park.

The renovation project, identified in the Parks and Green Spaces Levy, will provide new play equipment for children ages 2 -12, site improvements to enhance safety and access improvements to facilitate use by all park visitors.

The project budget for Sandel is $350,000, and renovations will take place between April and October of 2010.

Sandel Park renovation plans were drawn up in 2002, but the renovations never proceeded.

Photo credit: 
Courtesy of Seattle Parks and Recreation

Drawings created for a Sandel Play Area renovation in 2002 that never materialized. There will be an open house March 27 to view new designs for the park.

Mayor Mike McGinn's question and answer session during the March 14 annual meeting of Groundswell NW, in which he touched on green infrastructure inside and outside of Ballard, began in what is becoming the typical style of all city representatives.

"We're in a really tough budget situation," McGinn said. "That will be the starting point for any discussion."

The city is facing a $5 million general fund deficit from 2009, another $5 million deficit this year and a projected $15 million deficit next year, he said. In addition, the city's utilities are also facing deficits, he said.

"It's kind of a bleak situation," McGinn said.

He said there are fewer resources for the city to provide services, and that is creating a challenging situation in which to invest in neighborhoods.

McGinn said the city is facing a number of expensive projects, such as replacing 520 and the viaduct, that are part of what he considers gray infrastructure, projects that lead to greater pollution and poorer health.

"We are very interested in making a transition from these gray infrastructure projects to what we consider green infrastructure projects," he said.

Photo credit: 
Michael Harthorne

Mayor Mike McGinn discusses plans for Ballard light rail and a 14th Avenue park boulevard at Groundswell NW's annual meeting March 14.

Groundswell NW recently completed the Salmon Bay Natural Area East Expansion in Ballard along the estuary of the Greater Lake Washington/Cedar River Watershed.

The project, located immediately west of the 34th Avenue Northwest adjacent to The Canal restaurant, offers a rare estuary habitat that is essential for juvenile salmon as they make their way through the Ballard Locks and acclimate to salt water.

The Salmon Bay Natural Area is a small part of a collective effort to preserve critical environments in the life cycle of Puget Sound salmon.

As the juvenile salmon make their way through the Locks, disoriented by the abrupt transition to salt water and vulnerable to predators, an area of refuge and adjustment to the new environment is essential for their survival, Groundswell NW's Elizabeth Dunigan said in a press release.

Restoration of The Canal slope enhances this refuge by giving salmon a better chance of surviving and gaining the body weight needed to thrive in the open ocean, Dunigan said.

Photo credit: 
Michael Harthorne

The Salmon Bay Natural Area provides a critical habitat for young salmon, according to Groundswell NW.

Crown Hill Park back on course

Ten-year-old Collin Cramer, a student at Small Faces Child Development Center, gave it his best shot. Then, he gave it another. And, a couple more.

Cramer, wearing a hardhat and goggles, was given a sledgehammer and the honor of taking the first whack at the old playground during the March 3 groundbreaking of the new Crown Hill Center playground.

Small Faces, owner of the Crown Hill Center at 9250 14th Ave. N.W., received a grant from the city March 1 to replace the current playground, which staff say is falling apart.

Plans for the new playground include a new play structure, a tire swing, a water feature, a beach area and gardens.

Small Faces Executive Director John Otto said they plan to have the first stage of the playground, including the new play structure and tire swing, completed by June.

The rest of the playground will be an ongoing project, he said.

The Crown Hill Center playground is adjacent to the site of the Crown Hill Park, work on which is back underway for the first time since 2006.

Photo credit: 
Michael Harthorne

Children from Small Faces Child Development Center get excited for their new playground at the Crown Hill Center during the March 3 groundbreaking.

Crown Hill Center Park Development

Update and Schematic Design Presentation

For additional information please visit


Crown Hill Center
9250 14th Ave. N.W.
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