Seattle Parks and Recreation staff tasked with renovating the Madrona Park Beach play area acknowledged that park maintenance has lagged over the years, and the proposed project is one in a long list of overdue capital improvements.
Residents weighing in during an Aug. 28 community meeting at the beach wanted guarantees that future improvements wouldn’t be left to languish again.
“All this grass is what has grown in there where it’s not meant to be,” said Kathleen Roark of the existing play area at the beach.
Roark was on the Madrona Community Council when it received Neighborhood Matching Fund support to make the beach enhancements back in 1995. She said the agreement was that the community council would provide several years of maintenance, at which point SPR would take over.
“Some people didn’t know it was a play area because some of it has been overgrown,” said SPR planner Libby Hudson during the Aug. 28 meeting in the park.
SPR used to have a beach maintenance program to handle things like replenishing sand, but that doesn’t exist anymore.
There are 450 Seattle parks, and they require community support to keep up with, said SPR capital project coordinator Kent Scott.
“Clearly things have been neglected for far too long,” he said, adding that’s what the renovation aims to correct. “I think what we’re trying to do is a restart and make things right with the funds we have.”
SPR senior landscape architect Shwu-jen Hwang is working within the constraints of a $550,000 budget, which includes design, planning and construction.
Part of a backlog in the Capital Improvement Project program, the funding is being provided through the Seattle Parks District.
“This has been on the books for a long time,” Scott said.
So long that ADA-compliance requirements for all parks renovations hadn’t been on the books when the project was first added, but now those improvements will be included in the cost.
Hwang said the disabled parking spaces in the adjacent lot will be improved, recommending that people in wheelchairs be able to take the sidewalk immediately in front of the spaces to access the park. The grade would also be adjusted to 2 percent.
People in wheelchairs could access the lake via a Mobi-Mat, which allows for rolling down to the water, Hwang said, provided it’s at a 5 percent grade.
“We use that at Alki Beach, and it’s very successful,” she said. “People really like it, especially people in wheelchairs.”
Hwang plans to revive the water feature in the play area, which had been a pump that children could draw water from and down a manmade stream that ran along a retaining wall.
“The water pump did not get a lot of attention,” Hwang said of feedback gathered through an online survey. “I think it’s because it’s not working right now.”
A new pump is needed — one that will hold up against frequent use — and in a location that works best, Hwang said, envisioning the water could be conveyed to the sand by another structure; the pump would also be ADA accessible.
Roark walked Hwang along the dried-out streambed that had been created in 1995, pointing out old tiles children had painted to line it, many having been buried by accumulating dirt. She said there could be cost savings by rehabbing the existing stream.
“The kids loved it,” she said about the old pump, “and I love the water feature — definitely the water feature.”
Hwang later told Scott about the old stream bed and art tiles, saying it would be easy to dig out.
The online survey will remain active through Sept. 13, and SPR will share its final plans 7-8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 30, at Spectrum Dance Studio.
Hwang said construction would likely start after Labor Day in 2020 and take about three months to complete. The park would be closed, but access to the dance studio would be maintained.
If the budget allows it, Hwang said she wants to remove a portion of concrete walkway between the north and south side of the beach to create better movement between the two areas and add more beach for people to use.
Roark said that had been envisioned back in the ‘90s.
“So taking that out further would be so cool,” she said.
Take the survey here.