Our park’s final design meeting Wednesday night, attended by about 120 people, at times felt appreciative of the work done to plan the new Maple Leaf Reservoir Park, and at times was more quarrelsome.
The Maple Leaf Community Council is planning on putting a video of the meeting on its website by the end of the weekend.
The park planners had to make a variety of decisions based on what they would be allowed to do – the new park is being built on top of an underground drinking water reservoir, which means Seattle Public Utilities can often dictate terms, what the community wanted them to do, and what they could afford to do.
“SPU has a lot of influence over what we do,” designer Greg Brower of The Berger Partnership told the meeting. “SPU likes paving and synthetics.” Later he said: “SPU loves to see things that are paved. The less growing things, the better.” A number of those present wanted to know why, then, SPU hadn’t attended any of the park planning meetings.
The final park design seems to reflect the input gathered at previous meetings with the Maple Leaf community, and not that of outside groups who were said to lobby for features such as lighted sports fields.
As to the cost, the new park will be about 23 acres, meaning Seattle Parks and Recreation will have about $120,000 to spend per acre, Brower said. That contrasts with a usual $200,000-$300,000 per acre for a typical park, he said.
That’s one reason most of the money is being spent on the new, upper park and not on the lower, existing park which functions fairly well now, he said.
Many people at the meeting spoke strongly about the absence of an off-leash dog area. “The dog park appears to have gone away even though it was the second-most popular item on the (community) list,” said Donna Hartmann-Miller, who shot the video and is head of the Community Council’s park committee. “There are going to be unleashed dogs in the park, either legally or illegally.”
She later e-mailed to say a community P-Patch and a “spray pad” water feature for kids also failed to make the cut, although they were numbers five and seven, respectively, on the community list.
Also present at the meeting was artist Patrick Marold of Denver, who said he plans to create a large stone and water art scape for the new park’s southwest side.
Earlier that day he had toured the Cedar River Watershed, where much of Seattle’s drinking water comes from. The reservoir also receives water from the city’s other main water source, the Tolt River Watershed. Marold, who last month had his own meeting with residents to hear their thoughts, said he was drawn by the confluence of the two water resources in the reservoir under the park, and wants to use boulders from both sources.