Bhy Kracke renovation planning underway

The future of Bhy Kracke Park was the main topic of discussion at last week’s Queen Anne Community Council meeting.

With planning underway for improvements to the park at 1215 Fifth Ave. N., Katie Bang of Seattle Parks and Recreation was on hand to discuss the project, and garner feedback about what the park could look like after work is completed.

“This is a well-needed park improvement project,” she said.

At the heart of the $261,000 major maintenance project is a new retaining wall, to replace the current one made of plywood and rebar. Bang said a pipe pile wall is the preferred option and is cost-effective, but concerns were raised about whether the material would be susceptible to graffiti.

“You might as well put a sign on that wall that says, ‘tag me,’” said Marty Kaplan, who chairs the Council’s Land Use Review and Planning Committees.

Don Harper, Council’s Parks Committee Chair, also took issue with the aesthetic value of the proposed wall replacement.

“I would do less of a wall if you have to, or get more money,” Harper said. “But do it right.”

There were also questions regarding what will happen to the arbor located south of the park’s play area.

Within the current budget, Bang said, there is funding to build a new arbor elsewhere in the park, or near its current location.

“The cost to actually try to preserve it and move it is much more than to build a new one,” Bang said.

Also part of the current plan is widening a pathway from five feet to seven, an idea that was also met with some skepticism. 

“That does not seem with keeping in the character of this small little jewel box of a park,” Kaplan said.

Attendees also voiced concern about the current upkeep and maintenance needs of the park, with invasive plants taking hold in many areas. Bang said the parks department is looking at better ways to utilize the hours of maintenance crews throughout the city.

“It’s always been a very reactive approach,” Bang said. “We just haven’t had the money.”

Harper also suggested that neighbors consider pursuing a Neighborhood Matching Fund program grant through the city to fund other improvements for the park in conjunction with this project.

Bang said a pre-application has been submitted to the city of permits, and the project will go out to bid over the winter. Construction is set to start sometime in the spring or summer — to avoid doing slope stabilization during the rainy season — with completion by the fall.

The latter half of the meeting was devoted mostly to a summary provided by Kaplan of Community Council’s appeal of Councilmember Mike O’Brien’s backyard cottage legislation, in advance of the Land Use Review Committee’s meeting on the Sept. 19. That meeting will start at 7 p.m. at Queen Anne Manor (100 Crockett St.).

“It’s one size fits all,” Kaplan said of the legislation. “Queen Anne is exactly the same as West Seattle, Capitol Hill, Wedgwood, Madrona, Othello. It’s all the same. It doesn’t matter how big a site you have, how dense it is, what the parking requirements are.”

He also pushed back against the idea that opponents of the legislation are merely “NIMBYs,” calling that characterization divisive rhetoric, and that the appeal is based on the notion that people from every neighborhood should be able to review documents that substantiate the claim that there would be no impact from the legislation.

The final day of the appeal, which began last month, will be Sept. 30, and the hearing examiner will issue their decision within two weeks of that date.

Meanwhile, the Community Council will host its annual meeting and election on Sept. 21 at 7 p.m. at Queen Anne Manor. Four members will not be returning to the Council.