Michael Harthorne
Residents check out the new design for Crown Hill Elementary Park at an April 28 meeting. CLICK IMAGE TO VIEW THE DESIGN.

City presents scheme for Crown Hill Elementary Park

After a four-year hiatus, the Seattle Parks and Recreation project team and the Crown Hill community reassembled April 28 to discuss the design for the renovated Crown Hill Elementary Park in the project's first public meeting since 2006.

The single design presented by Parks at the meeting was culled from public input on three previous designs presented at two public meetings. Parks' Pamela Alspaugh said there were more than 30 people at each of the previous meetings, and there was extensive participation and community input.

The April 28 design features a play field with a baseball diamond and two soccer fields for young children, an oval of open lawn with trees, a walking loop around the open lawn and play field, seating and picnic tables, a multiple-use plaza for potential community performances, adult fitness stations, and a 1,600-square-foot plaza that could become either a skate dot or a play area with artistic elements.

The main entrance for park, which is located next to the Crown Hill Center at 9250 14th Ave. W., will be at the intersection of Holman Road and 13th Avenue Northwest near the pedestrian overpass.

Shwu-jen Hwang from Seattle Parks and Recreation said Crown Hill Elementary Park is the largest open space in Crown Hill and has the potential to become a landmark and gathering space for the community.

Work on Crown Hill Elementary Park was put on hold in 2006 when Seattle Public Schools decided to sell the former Crown Hill Elementary School property. Kim Baldwin, project manager for the new park, said the city was waiting for the property to be acquired before returning to the planning process.

Alspaugh said she never thought it would take four years to return to work on the park, but the project is in better shape now because Small Faces Child Development Center acquired the property when Seattle Public Schools could have sold it for development.

"This is really great that we're all back here," she said.

The scheme presented by Parks April 28 was largely met with approval from the community with a few suggestions, such as a portable restroom, better sight lines near the pedestrian overpass, bike racks, a kiosk and grilling stations.

The main point of discussion for the nearly 40 community members at the meeting was the same as it was four years ago – whether or not the park should feature a skate dot and the ages the skate dot should cater to.

Parks' suggested design is a 1,600-square-foot skate dot for beginners and young children placed near the main entrance to minimize noise conflicts with the rest of the park.

Though some community members said they would support the skate dot idea only if it was strictly for beginners, other residents wanted to see it geared toward older children as well.

One woman said her children are young now, but they will get older and still want to use their neighborhood park.

John Otto, Small Faces executive director, said it would be nice to have a space in the park for teens.

"We don't want to leave them out of the family picture," he said.

A number of residents said they would rather use the space as a play area for younger children.

Otto said Small Faces' playground, which is about to undergo renovations adjacent to Crown Hill Elementary Park, will feature a lot of space dedicated to younger children.

Small Faces, which moved into the Crown Hill Elementary building in 1980 and acquired it in the last year, is remodeling its playground for the first time since 1987.

Lynn Wirta, former Small Faces president and now a volunteer for Small Faces' renovation of the Crown Hill Playground, said the playground will be open for community use.

"We want the community to know it's out there for all of us," she said.

The Crown Hill Playground remodel, not to be confused with Seattle Parks and Recreation's renovation of Crown Hill Elementary Park, will eventually include a play structure for school-age children with monkey bars, a tire swing and a climbing wall; an outdoor classroom with grass and trees; garden boxes; a child-focused sports court; a play structure for younger children; a water feature; an outdoor amphitheater; and a paved tricycle path.

The renovation of the larger Crown Hill Elementary Park has a budget of $1.2 million through the Parks and Green Spaces Levy. The city is aiming to start construction in spring 2011 and finish by fall 2011.

Seattle Parks and Recreation is looking for name suggestions to replace Crown Hill Elementary Park. Send suggestions to Seattle Parks and Recreation, Park Naming Committee, 100 Dexter Ave. N, Seattle, WA 98109, or email them to paula.hoff@seattle.gov. Please submit name suggestions by June 2, and include an explanation of how your suggestion matches the naming criteria.

We encourage our readers to comment. No registration is required. We ask that you keep your comments free of profanity and keep them civil. They are moderated and objectionable comments will be removed.