Madison Park resident Bert Philipp shovels mulch during the East Prospect Street end work party.
Madison Park resident Bert Philipp shovels mulch during the East Prospect Street end work party.

Volunteers were out finishing the first segment of the East Prospect Street end restoration project on Saturday, removing blackberries and other invasive vegetation, and then putting in mulch.

“It won’t stop them, but it will slow the growth rate,” said Omar Akkari, coordinator for SDOT’s Shoreline Street Ends Program.

The restoration project is the latest being spearheaded by Madison Park resident Gene Brandzel, who led the transformation of the 37th Avenue East street end into the Beaver Lodge Sanctuary with his wife, Liz.

Volunteers began tackling the unkempt East Prospect Street end, which is one of many in Seattle that provide public shoreline access, back on April 27. The next work party will be 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 17, after nesting season.

“We have a very dedicated crew, most of which were here in April,” said volunteer and Madison Park Community Council member Jerry Tuttle during the June 15 work party.

Community groups wanting to adopt and maintain street ends that benefit the public are allowed to prioritize any areas they like that are technically open but maybe not improved. Less than a third of Seattle’s shoreline street ends are unimproved.

The Friends of Street Ends (FOSE) formed more than 20 years, to improve shoreline street ends and make them community assets in neighborhoods around Seattle.

“This is great. This is hard work,” said FOSE cofounder Karen Daubert during the latest East Prospect work party. She lives in Leschi, which has its own street-end projects. “I love coming here, and you just get to meet new people.”

SDOT evaluated every street end in 2016, and a matrix and ranking system was developed in the work plan. The first was drafted in 2009, and then revised in 2017. FOSE has a goal to finish the street-end projects on deck currently, and is also setting priorities for the next five years, Daubert said.

“We really want to focus on the underserved, and racially and economically diverse, communities,” she said.

Having a full-time coordinator for the city’s street end program has helped immensely, Daubert said. Akkari is the first permanent position assigned to the street end program, and moved to Seattle from Spokane last August.

“To have someone that’s really motivated and passionate about them is just transformative,” Daubert said.

Bert Philipp, a 35-year Madison Park resident, was swinging a pick-ax and shoveling mulch during the June 15 work party. He likes exercise, he said, and didn’t have enough to do in his own yard.

“We like to think of Madison Park as being paradise, which it is,” Philipp said, “and we want to keep it that way.”