Please take a moment to sign our petition and show your support for Wedgwood’s parks and open space!
The WCC’s Parks Committee has been working to improve Wedgwood’s parks and open space in the hopes of closing the gap identified by the City which has determined north Wedgwood to be lacking in usable park space. Through the City’s 2008 Parks & Green Spaces Levy, the Morningside Substation is being pursued for acquisition on behalf of our community by the City’s Parks Department. However, no funds are available to design or develop the former Seattle City Light substation for it to actually become a park in the near future. In fact, we’ve applied for such funds but have been told that the Parks Department has put a moratorium on future park design and development until their maintenance funding is addressed. So, while the acquisition moves forward, we do not know when we will be able to complete a design for the future park or when the park would be constructed.
Similarly, Wedgwood has a some park space that is currently unusable since much of it is a steep, wooded ravine. The Inverness Ravine Park is a wooded park with SDOT right-of-way that connects it to multiple roads for potential access points. While it does have steep slopes, there is space and topography that would accommodate a pedestrian trail system through the park, connecting the Wedgwood and North Inverness neighborhoods together. The WCC Parks Committee presented a concept for the Inverness Ravine Park Trail through the Parks Department’s Opportunity Fund. The project was endorsed by the Northeast District Council and Feet First. It was also initially ranked very highly by the Parks Department, although it appears that it too will not be funded.
We have created this petition to gather signatures during the first few weeks of May to be able to show the community’s support of these two projects and of improving Wedgwood parks and open space in general. Currently, the Parks Department is hosting a series of meetings for their Legacy Plan which is expected to result in a levy for voters to approve park funding in 2014. We hope to give the signatures to the Parks Department at the May 21st meeting to show our community’s support for parks and to request that Wedgwood’s two park projects (Morningside Substation and Inverness Ravine Park Trail) are funded through the levy.
The building at 8605 35th Ave NE must be removed before environmental clean-up can be completed.
As of the end of the month of March, some environmental clean-up work has taken place at the site of a future park in Wedgwood, 8605 35th Ave NE. Dirt was excavated to a depth of five feet and was removed because of the presence of contamination still remaining from when a gas station was there in the 1950′s. The contamination extended to the roots of the trees so they had to be removed, as well. Now further work is on hold until removal of the building at the front of the lot. Here’s what we know so far:
The building at 8605 has been there since about 1968 and has been leased by different businesses over that time. The most recent business, a hair salon, does not own the building. The salon closed in early November and the stylists have redistributed themselves out to other locations in the neighborhood.
The land at 8605 35th Ave NE is owned by City Light. They must complete the environmental clean-up work before transferring the property over to the Parks Department. But they can’t finish the work until the building is removed. The owner is currently advertising the building as free to anyone who wants to take it away. After the site is prepared and transferred over to the Seattle Parks Dept. we don’t know how many years it will be until the site will be developed, because Parks currently has a moratorium on new projects.
Update 2: Site clearing has begun and the trees are down. Here’s a Photosynth photo (requires Microsoft Silverlight plugin) of the site on February 24, 2013. Today, fencing went up around the site and the contractors excavator and trailer were placed on site.
: While the property is moving closer to acquisition by the Parks Department for a park, many have asked what the park will be and when it’ll be open. This is a great question that cannot be answered at the moment. As we’ve written about before
, we applied for a grant to work with the Parks Department to come up with a park design. However, given the Parks budget, there is a moratorium on new park development. Until their maintenance budget is sorted out (…we’ve heard rumors of a levy for park maintenance in the future), we cannot design the park and therefore it cannot yet be officially a park.
: Since we originally wrote this post, we have received more details on the upcoming cleanup from Bill Devereaux, Manager of the Environmental Management and Compliance Unit with Seattle City Light. We’ve taken editorial privilege to add bold text
to highlight important items, a photo of the trees in the northwest corner of the parcel, and editorial notes in [brackets
] throughout for greater clarification. The trees will largely be cleared.
I apologize for the time it has taken to get back to you on your questions. The project is a work in progress. Hopefully the following addresses the questions you earlier sent to me.
Grove of trees in NW corner of the lot that will be removed as part of cleanup.
The cleanup work is planned for the period February 18 through March 8. Due to the nature of the work, it may be somewhat punctuated during that time frame. The nature of the work will be to remove roughly the upper 18 inches of soil and the concrete pad from the western half of the property (roughly the unpaved portion). This was the area used by City Light as a substation in the past. In addition, there is an area in the northwest corner of the paved portion that will require soils removal down to approximately 5 feet. Note that most of the trees will be removed in order to ensure a complete cleanup. The affected area will be fenced during the removal activities.
After the removal work City Light plans to bring the excavated west area back to grade with clean fill and a mulch of bark and wood chips. The excavation in the asphalt area will be brought to grade with clean fill and topped with gravel. The fencing around the former substation will be removed and the property will be open. As Parks has not completed their plans for the property, we will not be replanting in order to leave them with a clean slate in which to work [Editorial Note: Letter from SCL linked to below states that replacement trees will be planted.].
The building on the site is the personal property of the former lessees, and they have been asked to remove the building [Editorial Note: We are not clear when the building will be removed and if SCL or Parks has given a deadline for its removal. However, the owner had been trying to give it away for free on Craigslist earlier]. When the cleanup is completed and the building removed, the property will be transferred to the Parks Department. Any requests for landscaping between the transfer and the future park development should be referred to Parks [Editorial Note: Replacement trees are reportedly going to be installed though by SCL per the letter linked to in the next paragraph]. We have been coordinating with Chip Nevins at Parks.
Attached is a copy of the cleanup notification letter that was sent to nearby owners and tenants last Friday…
Wedgwood Community Council (WCC) is pleased to report that the Morningside Substation site, at the northwest corner of 35th Ave NE and NE 86th Street, is about to undergo a radical transformation. The site, which is owned by Seattle City Light (SCL), is home to the now-vacant CC & Co. salon building (the salon was there under lease, and the CC & Co. hair stylists are now working in other locations
around Wedgwood.) SCL is in the process of transferring ownership of the site, which is about a third of an acre in size, to Seattle Parks and Recreation (Parks) so that it can be turned into a new park for our community (you can learn more about the park here
Before the transfer can take place, SCL must perform environmental remediation so that Parks receives a clean site. The long-ago home of a gas station, testing has revealed that the top layer of the site’s soil contains contaminants and must be replaced with clean topsoil. In the coming weeks Wedgwood residents will notice construction fencing going up, the salon building coming down, and the site’s surface being stripped. Unfortunately, due to the nature of the contamination, the small stand of trees on the northwest corner of the site will become a casualty of this process.
WCC has contacted SCL regarding the remediation effort and its timeline, and will report details as they become available. Once the cleanup and title transfer are complete, Parks will await funding to begin park development. WCC has asked that in that interim period the parcel be seeded in lawn and open to the public so that our community will have attractive, usable open space in its core while we wait for funding for the design and construction of our future park. Please stayed tuned for more exciting news in the development of Wedgwood’s newest park!
As part of park acquisition process of the former Morningside Substation, Seattle City Light will have to perform some minor clean up of the site. Additionally, the former CC & Company building will need to be removed from the lot. The owner of the building, which has had a ground lease on the City owned parcel, needs to remove the building from the parcel.
The former CC & Company building is now listed for free on Craigslist (here’s a screenshot). According to the listing:
ABSOLUTELY FREE MANUFACTURE HOME THAT NEEDS TO BE MOVED IMMEDIATELY!!!
Lindal Manufactured home, constructed on lot in 1968. 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, kitchen,
living room. Need to be moved to your lot immediately.
Perfect for beach cabin.
If you are legitimately interested in the free building, the contact details are located on the Craigslist listing.
In 2008, Seattle residents passed the Parks and Green Spaces Levy, which set aside funds to acquire new park space in communities that are deficient in parks and open space…like Wedgwood! In January 2011, about 150 people showed up to support the acquisition of a surplussed substation (Morningside Substation) owned by Seattle City Light at the northwest corner of 35th Ave NE and NE 86th Street. Seattle City Light currently has a ground lease with a private party which subsequently leases its space to the CC and Company salon. As we understand it, Seattle City Light has negotiated an end to the lease with the owner of the building. CC & Company will therefore close its doors on October 28th.
View Larger Map
With the leases terminated, Seattle City Light will be able to move ahead with the clean up of a small area of surface contamination and clear the site prior to transferring to Seattle Parks and Recreation. Unfortunately for Wedgwood, a moratorium on new park development is still in place until the Parks Department can resolve maintenance funding. But Seattle Parks and Recreation hopes to begin developing new parks again in the near- to mid-term, and has prioritized design and construction of the park at the Morningside site. In the interim Wedgwood residents can look forward to open space on the site. We hope to work with Seattle City Light on creative ways to stabilize the site following their cleaning and clearing activities so that it may be used by the community to some extent while we wait for the future park development. Be sure to check back periodically for updates on this exciting new development for Wedgwood!
UPDATE 2: Feet First, a phenomenal Seattle-based nonprofit working to improve walkability of neighborhoods across Washington State, endorsed the WCC’s proposed Inverness Ravine Park proposal. If you haven’t already, check out their amazing walking map of NE Seattle. You’ll notice there are very few walkable routes between the Wedgwood and Inverness neighborhoods.
UPDATE 1: On Thursday, September 6th, the Northeast District Council, which represents 16 neighborhood community organizations in NE Seattle, endorsed the WCC’s proposed Inverness Ravine Park proposal.
Creek and dense vegetation within Inverness Ravine.
As part of the Parks and Green Spaces Levy Opportunity Fund, Seattle Parks will be spending $8 million in 2012/13 on park acquisition and/or development projects that are nominated by community groups. Wedgwood’s adopted Vision Plan calls for development of park space in a natural settings and for creek-side trails, so the WCC is taking this opportunity to propose a trail in Inverness Ravine Park (see our earlier post here). Seattle Parks and Seattle Department of Transportation both own land in the ravine, making it a prime candidate for a trail project. The ravine is on Critical Area lists for steep terrain and landslides, which precludes most kinds of development, but permits trails.
A potential trail alignment has been identified that features four access points and approximately 2,000 feet of trail (see diagram below). Based on this conceptual trail alignment, the WCC submitted a preliminary proposal to Parks in June. We have now been asked to submit a more detailed proposal in September. Parks will take WCC’s detailed proposal, along with others, develop a short-list of candidate projects, and ask those teams to present to a selection committee in early 2013. At that point funds will be awarded to the selected projects and design and construction will commence.
Preliminary trail alignment with 4 access points.
The WCC is competing with over 100 other projects for funding, but are hopeful that our trail project proposes the right combination of opportunities for exercise, education, and restoration to make it a winner. Feedback from our community has been overwhelmingly positive. Some concerns raised though include impacts to habitat, impacts to privacy, and safety. These concerns will need to be addressed should we advance to the design stage of the process. We will be presenting this trail proposal to the Northeast District Council in the coming weeks and are coordinating with the Inverness Community Council as well.
If you have any questions about the proposal, please email » Dave Grant, Chair of the Wedgwood Parks Committee.
Last month, Chip Nevins with Seattle Parks shared during a walk down 35th Ave NE with other City staff and officials that they were about to start further studies to identify whether there is contamination at the Morningside Substation. Earlier studies by Seattle City Light identified that the site used to have a gas station on it prior to becoming a substation. Gas stations, like the one in the photograph below at NE 25th St and 75th Ave NE, sometimes resulted in subsurface contamination. The assessment that Seattle Parks is having completed at the Morningside Substation will help identify whether there are any remaining underground storage tanks and if there is any residual subsurface contamination.
The analysis that’s being completed is a necessary part of the acquisition process. As we understand it Seattle Parks requires that any property they acquire fromanother City department is “clean.” Therefore, the time frame for Seattle Parks to acquire the property from Seattle City Light will be, in part, dependent upon the results of this assessment. However, as we’ve shared before, development of the Morningside Substation into our future park won’t occur until funding for development and maintenance becomes available.
On Tuesday, December 6th, several City staff and councilmembers met with WCC trustees, members of the Wedgwood Land Use Committee (WLUC), and members of the Ravenna-Bryant Community Association to discuss the Vision Plan and how to achieve several of its stated goals. We were fortunate to have been accompanied by:
- City Council President, Richard Conlin and his legislative aid Elaine Ko;
- Councilmember Sally Clark, who chairs the Committee on the Built Environment;
- Karen Ko with the Department of Neighborhood;
- Jim Curtin with Seattle Department of Transportation; and
- Chip Nevins with the Seattle Parks Department.
The WLUC requested the meeting to discuss the Vision Plan and what we hope to initiate in 2013, which is a neighborhood discussion of land use along 35th Ave NE. While the Vision Plan identifies some extremely useful general themes and shared goals, there is not enough detail within the document to make planning-level decisions for the neighborhood. Therefore, the Vision Plan’s first two suggested actions are:
- “Undertake a neighborhood plan that includes a review of current zoning standards and design guidelines with the City Department of Planning and Development. Revise development standards as appropriate in accordance with community preferences established in the neighborhood plan.”
- “Work with Seattle DPD to establish neighborhood-specific design guidelines that direct new development.”
Since the unveiling of the Vision Plan in 2010, these two suggested actions have been the Wedgwood Land Use Committee’s two primary objectives. Typically though, neighborhoods that pursue these two tasks are identified as “Urban Villages,” a classification within the Comprehensive Plan for neighborhoods that have been designated to accommodate more density. Given that Urban Villages are population dense, the City can justify funding the development of these neighborhood planning tools, or updates to these tools. Along with great potential for City funding, the Urban Village classification has a more defined path for Council approval of these tools. Therefore, over this past year, the WLUC has been meeting with councilmembers, talking with City staff, and brainstorming with Planning Commission members to identify a process to develop and obtain Council approval of these neighborhood planning tools.
During Tuesday’s walk, we shared our general process for completing these land use planning tools. We also discussed a lot more as well…too much in fact to go into great detail in a single post. However, during our walk we showed the City the new Wedgwood Apartment project that’s quickly taking shape at the former JCC site. We showed the City the Morningside Substation that the Parks Department is in the process of acquiring on our behalf (which requires Council approval). We discussed current zoning designations along 35th Ave NE relative to the goals described within the Vision Plan. We discussed the potential development of design guidelines and a streetscape plan for 35th Ave NE. We discussed traffic issues along 35th Ave NE (in front of the Post Office) and at the intersection of NE 75th Street. We discussed pedestrian safety issues, such as sidewalks and a crosswalk at NE 80th Street. And we showed off Wedgwood’s favorite Christmas tree lot and new gathering place, including the new Wedgwood Emergency HUB, where Councilmember Clark is planning on picking up her tree this year from.
It was an excellent opportunity to share the goals of the Vision Plan, discuss our identified process, and receive feedback from councilmembers and City staff. They all had extremely encouraging things to say about the work of our community. We are eager to share this process and proposed timeline with the community in January at our next community meeting on January 11th. More details and specifics on the meeting will be shared shortly. In the meantime, feel free to email if you have any land use related questions.
UPDATE (7-12-11): The letter from the Parks Department’s Acting Superintendent, Christopher Williams, can be downloaded here (PDF, 5KB).
On May 9th, the Wedgwood Parks Committee submitted an application for a Neighborhood Matching Fund (NMF) Small & Simple grant to develop a design for Wedgwood’s soon-to-be new park at the Morningside Substation Site. Having discussed the project with the Parks Department and Department of Neighborhoods, we knew that the “Wedgwood Deserves A Park (Design Phase)” project was a long shot due to Parks Department budget constraints. Nevertheless, we thought moving forward with the application was a responsible process for the community that has been so supportive of the project from the start.
Unfortunately, today the Parks Committee found out today that it was not awarded the NMF Small & Simple grant in a letter from the Parks Department’s Acting Superintendent, Christopher Williams. According to Mr. Williams, due to the City’s current budget situation the Parks Department needs to “focus our available resources on taking care of existing parks and controlling our operating costs for both park maintenance and recreation programs.” Mr. Williams went on to say that “it is a good time to acquire new neighborhood park sites where they are needed and green space where it is available…It’s smart to buy available parcels now, when we have the (levy approved) funding, to ‘land bank’ them for the present time, and develop them sometime in the future, when economic condition improve in Seattle and to the extent that we have the financial capacity to maintain new parks.”
One issue very important to the Parks Committee throughout this process is what will happen to CC & Company when the Morningside Substation changes ownership between Seattle City Light and the Seattle Parks Department, especially if a design and funds are not available to develop the site. The Parks Committee made it clear in a letter to the Parks Department that should funding not be available for park design and development, that it was important to the Wedgwood Community Council that CC & Company be allowed to remain on site so that the community was not left without either a new park or a strong local business. To this point, Mr. Williams had the following encouraging statement. “We will manage the ‘land banked’ sites on a case by case basis, working with the affected communities. Where the sites include viable businesses it is our hope that these can continue in place.”
While today’s letter delays the design and likely the development of the Morningside Substation for a new Wedgwood park, the acquisition process continues to move forward despite delays of its own. We will provide an update on that process in the coming weeks.