Zach Thomas
A rendering of what a proposed park boulevard on 14th Avenue Northwest would look like. Traffic has been moved to the west side of the street, the median has been removed, and a park has been constructed on the east side.

East Ballard awaiting funding for park boulevard demonstration

The East Ballard Community Association and 14th Avenue Visioning Project are awaiting potential funding from a number of sources to complete a two-block demonstration park boulevard on 14th Avenue Northwest.

Volunteers submitted an application for money from the city's Opportunity Fund in early February and a second application for money from the Parks and Green Spaces Levy is due in April.

"We told Parks we don't care where the money comes from, we just want it," said Dawn Hemminger of the East Ballard Community Association.

At the Feb. 10 Ballard District Council meeting, Peter Locke, an east Ballard resident and the vision behind the 14th Avenue park boulevard, said the purpose of the project is to create open space in an area that is lacking it while improving safety for pedestrians and vehicles.

The plan for 14th Avenue from Market Street to Northwest 65th Street, which was conceived five years ago, is to move traffic on the 100-foot wide street to one side, get rid of the parking median, and create a park on the east side of the street.

Locke said the money is available now, Seattle Parks and Recreation is excited about the project, and there is a real need in the community for more open space.

"We think what we have now is getting two sections of this project north of Market done," he said. "I don't want to miss this opportunity."

The section Locke and other volunteers want to start with is the two blocks between Northwest 59th Street and Northwest 61st Street.

Zach Thomas, a volunteer and east Ballard resident, said those two blocks are in the middle of an under-served area, there are no driveways conflicting with where the park will go, and community groups haven't made any median improvements there yet.

Locke said they will conduct a parking study to see how much parking will be lost by removing the median on those two blocks.

He said they would eventually like to expand the park boulevard concept the entire 20 blocks from Ballard High School to the water on 14th Avenue, though the design would change in the area south of Market Street because of use by industrial vehicles.

Dave Boyd from Groundswell NW said the group has been working with Parks to find open space in that area of the neighborhood without much luck.

"I'm convinced this is the last opportunity to create community space in that area of east Ballard," he said. "We owe it to east Ballard to support this."

While money from the Opportunity Fund can be used to acquire land for parks or develop parks on already-owned land, using money from the Parks and Green Spaces Levy could be a bit more tricky, Hemminger said.

A portion of that levy was specified for use acquiring land for parks in the Ballard urban village, she said.

Parks told the East Ballard Community Association they could likely use that money to develop the park boulevard on land owned by the Seattle Department of Transportation, but it would require the proposal to go through the Seattle City Council and Mayor's Office as well, Hemminger said.

Meanwhile, volunteers and community groups have already set about improving 14th Avenue in other ways.

An intersection project completed last year on 58th Street improved pedestrian visibility and added swales to the parking strips to help filter storm water runoff.

In April, the East Ballard Community Association will begin installing planters donated by the city to the street's median ends.

A park boulevard is currently under construction on Bell Street in downtown Seattle.

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