Parks provides update on Smith Cove Park plans

Project divided into phases, but second phase not yet funded

Two refurbished soccer fields and a quarter-mile loop trail around them, an off-leash dog area, and a pair of volleyball courts are the latest plan for the west side of Smith Cove Park, presented by Seattle Parks & Recreation during a public meeting on Tuesday night at Catharine Blaine School.

The other side of the 12-acre site, however, will have to wait for further funding that has not yet been secured.

David Graves with Seattle Parks told a crowd of about 30 people that recent park projects have run about $1 million per acre, citing the new Jimi Hendrix Park ($2.2 million for 2.5 acres) and Greenwood-Phinney Park ($924,000 for 0.5 acres) as examples.

With funding primarily coming from the Seattle Park District approved by voters in 2014, in addition to grant money specifically for the sports fields, the project has a little more than $6 million to work with, just under $4 million going to construction costs. That’s an amount that Graves admits is, “not a lot of dollars to do a lot of things with.”

“What you have with a $6 million project is a half finished park,” he said, “so how do you take that money and spend it wisely and give the public a project that’s really successful that will be a jewel at this corner of Magnolia that people will be really excited about.”

That means building out the park just west of Pier 91 at the foot of Magnolia Hill in two phases. Graves said the intention is to seek the money in the 2019-20 city budget biennium, or in the next round of park district funding for the latter half of work.

In the meantime, design work continues with the aim of starting construction in the fall of next year. A youth baseball field integrated with the soccer fields — which had been included in designs presented during a public meeting in February — was not included in the latest round of plans, nor was a 10,000-square-foot pump track on the site’s east parcel.

Tess Schiavone with Gustafson Guthrie Nichol (GGN) — the landscape architecture firm for the project — said planners were aiming to capitalizing on what already works well on the site in their designs, including its views. She said they were inspired by the site’s history, and how people once lived on the parcel in close connection to the land and water.

“That’s an element of the site that’s missing today,” she said.

The main focus in phase one is the sports fields, which Graves bluntly described as being in “crappy shape.” The hope is that with new soil, drainage and irrigation, the natural turf will be playable for soccer — as well as lacrosse and ultimate frisbee — 10 months of the year. The off-leash area for dogs will cover approximately a half-acre, next to a pair of temporary beach volleyball courts. Those courts would be moved to the east side (and a third one added) in the second phase, while the off-leash area would be expanded to cover their former space, doubling its size. Also included in phase one work is the restoration of the northwest edge of the site with the Green Seattle Partnership, to remove invasive blackberry vines.

Meanwhile, phase two includes green spaces suitable for passive use — an addition made in response to feedback in February — with the potential for shelter space, a playground, an ADA-accessible kayak/small boat ramp, and parking for about 50 additional vehicles. The current parking on site will not be affected by the project, but new sidewalks and crosswalks are planned as well.

Notably absent from the first phase was a full bathroom, with plans merely calling for a pair of portable restrooms.

Also mentioned briefly Tuesday was the state of the South Magnolia Conveyance Project. Smith Cove Park’s current athletic fields will be closed through the spring as crews clean, assess, and restore pipeline operations underneath the site to the Magnolia Wet Weather Facility.

Graves said the ideal start to phase one work will come after the conclusion of soccer season next fall, and that it will be critical to time their efforts in conjunction with the weather, getting the bulk of field work in during the drier months.

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Smith Cove Park Meeting Presentation — Dec. 5, 2017 by QueenAnneMagnoliaNews on Scribd