Magnolia Village-to-Park Gateway project has entered its final design phase; public meeting has been set

Community members are invited to the final public design meeting on Tuesday, April 29, at 7 p.m. at the Magnolia Community Center, 2550 34th Ave. W. The meeting will be presented by the Village Beautification Committee, a group of Magnolians managing the Magnolia Village-to-Park Gateway Project.
Currently, people move between the playfield and adjoining Magnolia Village via a narrow opening in the chainlink fence that runs along the south end of the playfield. The plan to create a real and inviting entrance to the playfield - where the Magnolia Community Center, Catharine Blaine School and Pop Mounger Pool are also located - is one element in a larger plan, organized by a group from the Magnolia Chamber of Commerce. The group is seeking to make the Village more pedestrian-friendly and appealing.
At the April 29 meeting, community members can learn the status of design plans and give their input, according to Kitty Harmon, who chairs the Village Beautification Committee. Several topics will be covered, including some that were raised at the March 4 public meeting.
To create the gateway, a portion of the chainlink fence edging the playfield on West Smith Street where it intersects with 33rd Avenue West will come down.
"The fencing will be removed from the southwest corner of the tennis courts heading east along Smith to the east side of the intersection with 33rd," Harmon said.
In place of the chainlink, a gateway will be created with metalwork and landscaping. A plan for the landscaping - to include plants that grow waist to chest high to provide a safety buffer between the baseball diamond and the street - will be presented at the April 29 meeting.
"We are doing everything with landscaping to keep a barrier that you notice," Harmon said.
The idea is to have an inviting entrance while discouraging youngsters in the playfield from running out onto West Smith Street. Harmon noted that the basic design for the new gateway presented at the March 4 meeting has been changed for safety reasons. The original concept proposed two entryways corresponding with two crosswalks to the other side of West Smith Street at 33rd Avenue West.
"Now there is only one egress point at the intersection. We are hoping that will make it more clear to a kid who is going to chase a ball into the street that the child is going through an obvious portal. Parents may have to instruct their children not to chase balls out into the street, which they shouldn't be doing anyway."
The final design for the gateway's metalwork, to be created by Jean Whitesavage and Nick Lyle, of Whitesavage & Lyle, Inc., will be revealed. Community members can also evaluate choices for the color of the metalwork.
Harmon said that, after plenty of discussion, Metro Transit has agreed to split the bus layover zone that can block foot pedestrians crossing West Smith Street to the playfield.
"They will split the bus layover zone. Metro has agreed that a portion will go east and a portion will go west on Smith, at least for now."
Harmon noted that a path from the playfield entrance to the playground is now being explored as part of the gateway project.
"Another concern that came up at the [March 4] meeting was something the committee had addressed early on. Once you have this beautiful gateway and walk in, what leads you further into the park."
Magnolian Jim Keller volunteered the services of Site Workshop, the landscape architecture firm where Keller works, to design the path, according to Harmon. The goal is to find an easier way to get from the new playfield entrance to the playground than climbing up the steep berm on a dirt path, which poses a particular problem for mothers pushing babies in strollers.
The gateway improvements will extend beyond the playfield entrance. Harmon said that in the block of 33rd Avenue West immediately south of the playfield, the wall of the building that houses the Magnolia Tree will be enlivened by planting vines and installing ironwork.
The committee is also working with James Paul Jones, the developer of the Bellagio project across West Smith Street from the playfield, on street improvements at that location, according to Harmon.
Schoolchildren were asked for their ideas of themes they wanted to see explored in the new gateway project.
"It was more a way to get kids thinking about the concept of a gateway rather than directing the artists on what should be in the gateway," Harmon said.
The children's ideas - more than 50 submissions - will be displayed at Starbucks. All of the youngsters will be invited to an open-forge session with the metal artists while the gateway is being created.
"It will be fun to have the kids hammer some of the metal that goes into the gateway," Harmon said.
To fund the gateway, the committee is going after a large project grant from the city of Seattle Department of Neighborhoods. Part of the matching donations for that grant will be from people in the community who are in the construction business, Harmon said. The group will also apply for other grants, as well as seek contributions from individuals and businesses.

Editor Maggie Larrick can be reached at

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