Photos by Andrew Doughman
Children line up with scissors as they prepare to cut the commemorative tape to officially open Ballard Corners Park. CLICK THE IMAGE TO SEE MORE PHOTOS FROM THE EVENT

Ballard celebrates Corners Park grand opening

Park 20-years in the making opens with neighborhood party

Ballard residents celebrated the opening of Ballard Corners Park this afternoon with pizza, fresh apple cider and speeches from the people who helped the park come into existence.

More than 50 community members brought their kids and their pets out to the park to enjoy the festive atmosphere at Corners Park located at the corner of 17th Avenue Northwest between Northwest 62nd and Northwest 63rd streets.

About a dozen local children cut the symbolic tape to commemorate the park’s grand opening and everyone enjoyed free Veraci pizza—some lining up again and again until the Veraci employees ran out of dough.

“This is a big event for Ballard,” said David Folweiler, co-chair of Friends of Ballard Corners Park. “I hope that [park] will get well used.”

Folweiler and co-chair Rebecca Carr were instrumental in obtaining funding for the park through city and county grants. They worked with Groundswell NW, a local community parks advocacy group, and the community to see the park through from its initial design phase all the way up to the park opening today.

Prior to this four-year-long project, members of Groundswell NW had marked two adjacent properties for a Corners Park, but they had to wait about 16 years before they could acquire the land. Groundswell also celebrated its 20-year anniversary as a non-profit.

The park, which features a playground, an open yard, eco-friendly rain garden and a concrete living room setup, came together through community efforts. John Barker, the park’s architect, said he met with community members during various meetings to collect feedback for what the community wanted to see in its park.

“This is my favorite kind of project and I love community building,” he said.

The park came together from the combination of two lots, one of which used to be a corner grocery store. Today, an entrance designed to mimic the antique corner store entrance stands at the corner where passing local residents can read about the site’s history.

Toward the south, a few parts of the wall are all that remain of a house that used to sit on the lot; a concrete couch, end table and lounge chair occupy the space now.

“It’s a metaphor for the neighborhood living room” said Davidya Kasperzyk, a past Groundswell NW president.

Kasperzyk went on to say a homeless man used to regularly sleep on the couch and that the park represented a safe haven for all members in the community, the homeless included. But as for safety, the park’s layout is very open and so far there hasn’t been a problem, he said.

For Ballard, the new park is another small green space among a growing number of parks that Groundswell NW has helped open. By working with the city and obtaining land, the group is trying to continue to establish neighborhood parks in a neighborhood that has the least open space in Seattle (with the exception of downtown).

Present at the park opening were several city and state government officials, all of whom helped take the park from a design on a piece of paper and transform it into the site available to the community today.

They are Seattle Parks Superintendent Tim Gallagher, Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson, Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, Seattle Department of Neighborhoods Director Stella Chao and King County Council member Larry Phillips.

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