"This is a great day for Capitol Hill," said State Rep. Ed Murray from the podium. "Today we honor the vision of the community, and the vision and work of Cal Anderson."
Surely no one would disagree. The Saturday, Sept. 24, grand reopening of Cal Anderson Park, named after the late state legislator, brought large crowds of people, including many children, to a park that had been long neglected. There were balloons, jugglers, a flurry of activity. The joy was tangible.
"I don't think this many people have been in the park combined in the last 10 years," said one man. "This is great."
That it was a beautiful, sunny day seemed entirely appropriate. When the ribbon was cut, officially signifying that Cal Anderson Park was open to the public, the occasion marked a reclaiming of a badly neglected and underused public park. In its place, the new park is a vastly improved public amenity has been built, one the community can be proud of, one, it is hoped, the community will use actively.
The park's reopening came after two years of construction to cover the Lincoln Reservoir and build a dramatic new park over the lid. Among other elements, the design features long, meandering paths, a striking water feature, a new children's play structure and numerous carefully placed trees. The Saturday celebration also included the reopening of the Bobby Morris Playfield, which had been closed during the summer to replace the sod field with artificial turf. In all, 4 additional acres of open space were added in the heart of Capitol Hill.
"This park is a crown jewel in the parks system today. It hasn't always been an asset to the city. We're working to solve its problems and make sure it stays safe for generations to come," said Seattle Deputy Mayor Tim Ceis.
Kay Rood, chair of Groundswell Off Broadway, the parks advocacy group that spearheaded efforts to restore the park for more than a decade, spoke of the park's past problems.
"The park fell into decades of decline and misuse," she said. "But it's vitality has been restored and reclaimed. This park has met and exceeded everyone's expectations. My greatest hope is that this place will be respected. If we respect this park, we respect each other."
Surely no one would disagree.