Money tight, but work planned for Queen Anne Boulevard system

The last of three public meetings about fixing up the Queen Anne Boulevard system wrapped up on Monday night this week, and almost three dozen problem areas have been identified.

But Seattle Parks and Recreation isn't exactly rolling in rolling in the dough these days, and only a fraction of those areas will see improvements anytime soon, according to David Goldberg, a parks project manager.

The parks department has $500,000 in Pro Parks levy money to work with, but that's not even close to the amount needed for all of the work. "It doesn't go a long ways," he said.

And roughly a quarter of that money will go to the planning and permit process, said Goldberg, who added that the amount might be higher because of extensive public-outreach efforts.

The bottom line is that the parks department plans to work initially on just a couple of areas. One of them is West McGraw Place at the top of the boulevard system, and the other is Bigelow Avenue North, he said.

That work could be expanded with the help of individual property owners who have encroached on park property, and with the help of the Seattle Department of Transportation, which could tackle maintenance projects along the boulevard system, Goldberg said.

The parks department will have to work under guidelines established in the Queen Anne Neighborhood Plan, which called for a host of improvements on the boulevard, but public outreach efforts have also provided some guidance.

"We heard that trees are universally enjoyed except for a few who want to preserve views," he said. Indeed, park department efforts to improve Bigelow Avenue a decade ago were thwarted by the killing of freshly planted trees at the southern end of the street, noted Pam Alspaugh, a senior landscape architect with the department. "There are no plans to plant [trees] in the same location," she said.

"The other thing," Goldberg said, "is people want us to maintain that [boulevard system] as well as we can." But one improvement recommended in the Queen Anne Neighborhood Plan, adding lighting to the boulevard, won't take place, he said.

"We did consider lighting," Goldberg explained. But the idea was dropped because the work would cost too much, he said. "So we suggested putting in walkways was a higher priority."

Walkways are lacking along the West McGraw portion and along significant stretches of Bigelow, Gold-berg pointed out. The goal is to install a hard-surface walkway on at least one side of West McGraw and possibly add a soft-surface walkway on the other, he said.

Parks is also facing another issue along West McGraw. A nearby resident recently planted birch trees, but they have to go because they don't conform to an established tree plan for the boulevard, Alspaugh said. The plan identifies only certain species of trees that are allowed, and birches aren't on the list, she explained.

There are also some encroachments on park property such as fences, retaining walls and hedges that will need to be moved back to private-property lines, Alspaugh added.

On Bigelow, the plan calls for - among other improvements - replacing damaged sidewalks, removing asphalt and replacing it with crushed rock and concrete walkways. Benches would also be installed on Bigelow, but only after consulting with adjacent property owner, Alspaugh stressed.

Also on the to-do list is installing three brown-and-white street signs to mark the boulevard system, Goldberg said. "Hopefully, we'll have the money to do that."

Some trees will be planted right away on the boulevard, but the next steps would be to begin design work and come up with estimated costs, Goldberg said.

A permit from the Landmarks Preservation Board will also be needed because the boulevard is an historical landmark, and construction is expected to begin this summer, according to the parks department schedule for the project.

[[In-content Ad]]