Current plans are to enhance an existing channel at the park and add a water-play feature that would feed it and be accessible to children of all abilities.
Current plans are to enhance an existing channel at the park and add a water-play feature that would feed it and be accessible to children of all abilities.
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Designs for renovating the Madrona Park Beach play area haven’t changed much since a concept was shared with the community back in late August.

Seattle Parks and Recreation staff sought feedback on a schematic design during an Oct. 30 open house at Spectrum Dance Theater, and expects to have a plan finalized by next spring and out for a contract bid in the summer.

The play area was enhanced by the Madrona Community Council through a Neighborhood Matching Fund grant in 1995, but has suffered from a lack of maintenance over the years. An old hand pump that children once used to fill channels with water no longer works, and is planned to be replaced. A new pump is proposed to feed a to-be-determined water-play feature accessible to children of all abilities.

An online survey to gather input on what people wanted to see at the park received 140 responses, and that guidance was in regard to water play and replenishing the beach sand.

“Some people wanted to see play structures, but mostly the focus was on natural play,” said SPR planner Libby Hudson.

Those at the sparsely attended Oct. 30 open house agreed the focus should be on natural play. They also agreed that funds would be better spent toward that end than a proposal to add fixed musical-play features near Spectrum Dance Theater.

SPR senior landscape architect Shwu-jen Hwang’s schematic design still envisions scaling back a concrete wall behind the dance theater that creates a disconnect between the north and south beach areas, which would add more access. Expanding beach access all the way along the dance theater to the park’s bathhouse and other enhancements would need to be completed using future funds, she said.

It could be feasible to repair the water line connecting to the old pump. Hwang said she liked the proposal by Kathleen Roark during the last open house to preserve the existing channel and the old tiles that line it; each one was painted by a child nearly 25 years ago.

Some people at the Oct. 30 open house questioned the need for a water-play feature, preferring that Lake Washington provide that naturally. Leschi resident Bill Pickard said a good pump would also do on its own.

“Kids like to sit on the ground and play in the dirt; that’s what they do,” he said. “You don’t necessarily need a table.”

Pickard was referring to a play structure being considered that would include a pump, water wheel, basin table with stoppers, water channels and dams.

Resident John Roberts said water play is limited to between June and September, and he’d like new features that promote year-round play. He also would like to see options that appeal to his children, 3 and 5, who are outgrowing existing structures.

The Madrona Park Beach project not only seeks to enhance the play area, but also has to address ADA-compliance requirements. The budget is $550,000, which includes design and planning. Construction costs make up $340,700 of that total.

An accessible aisle is planned between the handicap spaces in the adjacent parking lot, leading to an existing pathway. Portions of the park that are too steep will be regraded. One concrete pathway leading down to the beach from Lake Washington Boulevard will be closed; it has a grade of 9-10 percent, Hwang said.

The landscape architect also proposes fixing the grade of a pathway down to the lake to accommodate wheelchair access. At a 5-percent grade, people in wheelchairs could access the lake using a Mobi-Mat.

SPR capital project coordinator Kent Scott said there should be some additional funding for native plant enhancements along the shoreline south of the beach. Responding to requests made in August, the parks department is also going to attempt to add Madrona trees to the project.

Hudson said the parks department is working with maintenance crews to make sure beach sand is replenished once the project is completed. Erosion is common due to the shoreline, and Scott said a solution could be to line the high-water mark with rocks to calm waves before they reach the beach.

Hwang said plans are still to start the renovation project after Labor Day, so people don’t lose access next summer.

Those who want to learn more can visit the project website. Feedback can still be provided by emailing Hudson at Libby.Hudson@seattle.gov.