News Dec 25, 2013 at 4:00 am

Give Families a Reason to Go Downtown

Except kick-ass! George Pfromm II


Give the Crusties somewhere to play with their pit bulls and preggo skanks?
What's the point? You know what will happen. The same thing that happened to our kick ass library.
@2 a $200 million hobo holding center?
Grow up
I will always be a toys r us kid and a child at heart

But there are some many more poignant problems facing Seattle.

1 of which being too many spoiled kids that have no appreciate for hard work.

The second is reflective of all these camp like activities such as pillow fights
And nerf zombie wars?

This is not nicklelodian or power rangers.
It's the real world and we don't need childish antics to solve economic and social problems.

all of these over the top kid centered parks and activities; take up adults space to freedom and pursuit of happiness. also it be taken away land to produce revenues that could be use to fund projects that accually help mange the real world problems we face.

I guess what I'm saying is if you want to be a power ranger ( and I hope by now you fans of power rangers see the lameness of Hollywood trying to re create Japanese culture.) go do it on your own time and in your own space. Lastly don't come to the adult playground dressed as a power ranger.
Downtown Seattle Needs a Really Kick-Ass Playground!
For the bums and crackheads to hang out? Maybe add a street vendor selling ice cold 40's?
I really like the idea. Now let's find out the point of view of the powerful anti playground lobby. Calling Burgess, Clark, and Godden
I love this idea! ...but I'd settle for a sidewalk in front of my house. The reality you have to face is that while you're contemplating these great ideas, many neighborhoods are still fighting for funding of basic services.
Once again we see the real divide in Seattle politics: the neighborhoods vs. downtown. This time, however, it is presented with a twist - the claim that Downtown is a neighborhood with residents who are equally deserving of the services provided in neighborhoods (schools, playfield, playground).

Only it's Downtown, so instead of getting a playground like any other neighborhood might get, Downtown has to get a World-Class playground because Commerce! So families are supposed to skip over the playground in their neighborhood to bring their children to the one downtown? Or will the one downtown be used as the reason that families don't need one in their neighborhood?


There are parks downtown. They are already there. Freeway Park, Denny Park, Westlake Park, Waterfront Park, Hing Hay Park, Belltown Cottage Park, Lake Union Park, Victor Steinbrueck Park, Occidental Park, Seattle Center, and Myrtle Edwards Park. More are coming with the Waterfront redevelopment.

Oh? What's that? These parks aren't suitable for children? Then maybe the Downtown people should stop turning them into not-parks like Westlake Park (because Commerce!) or Olympic Sculpture Park (because Art!) or the loss of playspace at Seattle Center for... Chihuly something. Or maybe these parks have become unsuitable for children because they are overrun by the unhygenic and the mentally-ill. Well, how are you going to keep that from happening to the new park?

Playfields? You want to make the case that a playfield is the highest value use of several acres of downtown real estate? Please make that case to the real estate developers who run this city. I would love to hear it. There are playfields close by in Interlake, on Queen Anne, on Capitol Hill, in the Central District, and no further away than Goldy expects families to drive to bring their children to the proposed downtown playground. We won't even mention Memorial Stadium.

Here's the solution: assess impact fees on developers building residential spaces downtown and then use the funds collected from those impact fees to provide the capital resources (schools, playfields, playgrounds, etc.) that are needed to support those new residents. That's how it's supposed to be done and that is how it is done in cities that are not owned and operated by and for the real estate developers.
Doesn't hedge fund welfare stadiums cover this Goldy? Or, did the city already max out their bonding credit card on "adult toys" and leave nothing for the kids?
@8 Amen.
What a silly, and obviously, logical, suggestion.

With the defunding of America, incrementally building over the past thirty-some years, apparent to a few at individual levels, such as the defunding of education, the defunding of the American worker, the defunding of public TV and radio, etc., etc., etc., such ideas are heresy!

Better get used to the future, Goldy, its a'coming. . . . . .
As a downtown resident, I like the idea of more open space in downtown and a children's park near the retail core is a nice idea. 2nd and Pike is probably the best option of those listed.

I'd also support the idea of knocking down the Chihuly museum and adding a children's playground back to Seattle Center.
Charlie @8,

We agree on a lot of things. This ain't one of them. Seattle is great city, and great cities are capable of doing more than one great thing at a time. So frame a downtown kick-ass playground as anti-neighborhood is not constructive.

And to be clear, I originally pitched the kick-ass playground idea as an alternative to the Chihuly museum. My agitation eventually helped get a million dollars targeted toward a playground at the Seattle Center. Not enough to build anything kick-ass, but something.

Seattle needs a kick-ass playground. If you have a better idea of where to put it than the downtown, pipe up. But everybody uses the downtown, and so it strikes me as the obvious central place to build a world-class attraction.
Ahhh I remember goldy well. She was the chick who said "I won't get pregnant if u just put in the tip of it..."
Everything @8 said. Why don't we instead raise the money to make the parks we already have (in all neighborhoods - because, gasp! Some people do not want to have to take their kids on the disgusting public bus to disgusting public downtown to play) more usable and awesome. Why add one more "crack park" to downtown?
To the last person leaving the shithole called Seattle, don't bother turning off the lights, no one cares. Get out while you can.
Any possible playground downtown would immediately be covered with discarded hypodermic needles and other bad stuff. Not a place for kids. Anybody who says different is just deluding themselves. Keep the kids in "residential" neighborhoods - that's what "zoning" is for, after all.
I think a playground would help create jobs. Someone can supervise the kids and talk with parents about places to hang out in downtown. We already have those black and yellow bikers that are part-security-police/ part-tour-guides. There can also be some people who clean the park each night so the needles won't be a problem (I've seen them around Fremont and Southcenter too.). 2nd and pike is an awesome location. If you think a place is sketchy, then a way to bring beauty to a sketchy space is to put something that's basically the opposite of the unclean, unsafe environment so many neighborhood and downtown dwellers believe the streets of downtown Seattle to be. If we put a playground at 2nd and pike, the Japanese Hot Dog guy who sells hotdogs near there might also be very happy that there are more customers too.
I love the idea! For those who don't actually live downtown, the play area at Westlake was VERY popular with kids and parents, and also helped reduce disorder in the park.

~@17 about zoning: Umm yeah we have zoning for a reason. The SCP clearly states that new residential capacity(aka new residents and families) are being funneled into Downtown and the UW. This is because other neighborhoods didn't want to up-zone to accommodate them. Since we are planning on having LOTS of families live DT, why not start giving it family stuff?

@ goldy on location: If the 2nd and Pike location you mention is the surface parking lot on the southeast corner, that site will be a 30 story mixed use building soon. They've already got the permitting going. Also, may I recommend, for what its worth, perhaps going with one of the Clise properties. They are mostly surface lots, and are actually much closer to more residential units. V.Steinbruck park is an excellent idea.

~An aside: The idea that downtown can't be family friendly because there are poor people there is just wrong on so many levels.
JonJon said:
The idea that downtown can't be family friendly because there are poor people there is just wrong on so many levels.
That's not at all what *anyone* said. The point is, that a platground would turn into what most of the other downtown parks are, places to sell, buy, and use crack and needle drugs, and drink malt liquor - in other words, not kid-friendly.

As has been mentioned, there are already plenty of parks in downtown, and frankly, if you let your kids play in them, you need to take a parenting class.

@20 you're saying it again!
Yes, homeless people live downtown. Yes, they sometimes drink beer(not malt, can't get it). Sometimes they are on harder stuff, though they rarely use AT the park. I know that you may have your own impressions of what downtown is like, but please acknowledge my experiences. I'm downtown ALL the time. I've lived here for 8 years. Worked here for 8.5 years. When I was a teen, I some time as one of those crusty westlake kids. I kind of know what I'm saying when I tell you that homeless people =/= dangerous for kids. After spending about 2 hours a day over the last year playing soccer at Cal Anderson, I have seen ZERO negative interactions between homeless and families. I don't intend to cred check you in a mean way, I'm just there all the time and totally don't see what you're worried about. Sure you have to watch em, but duh! TONS of people take their kids to parks downtown. Its OK!

Homeless people aren't a threat to your kids. They are just SOL. Seeing people that down and out makes some people uncomfortable. That doesn't mean the homeless are dangerous. And it doesn't mean that letting your kids play in a park where there is a dirty sleepy man is somehow bad for the kids.
@20 you're saying it again!
Yes, homeless people live downtown.
I didn't say anything about "homeless people".

I pointed out the solid and verifiable fact that most downtown parks are magnets for crack / needle drug use, the public consumption of high octane alcohol, and other non-kid friendly behaviors.

You're the one who keeps mentioning poor people and homeless people. Well guess what, being poor and homeless does not require objectionable public behaviors, though *YOU* seem to be insisting on the connection.

This has nothing to do with your obsession with poor and homeless, it has to do with crack heads and dopers taking over downtown parks, which is what would happen with any new "playground".

Get off your lefty soapbox and solve problems, rather than fart platitudes, which is what you are doing.
Great idea, but, yes, the homeless/drug user/drunk/bum issue will have to be addressed, also is it practical, where do you put it?, how to fund it? and last but not least who to clean up every morning for all eternity after the aformentioned homeless/drug user/bum..oh and I forgot, stupid poor people...but I am not negative, this could be accomplished if approached in an methodical way, I am one of the aformentioned types, sans drugs/stupid, only difference is I take advantage of the unbelievable amount of help/services available to down and outers/mentally ill
To no. 16 "wells", are you serious?, do you have a mental block?, Seattle/King County is one of the most beautiful and vibrant places to live in the United can leave if you want to,, I'm staying
I'm not obsessed with poverty or homelessness, though they do trouble me.

I don't know what problem you're asking me to solve, but if you want to work on it with me I'm totally down. I'm a seriously civic elbow grease kinda guy, and I have some time right now so lets do it. Wasn't tryin to throw platitudes at you, just sharing my experience.

I just disagree with you over whether or not you are safe in a parks downtown generally. There are some parks where you are definitely unsafe. These are also the ones with nothing to attract non-criminal family type people. Freeway park is a great example of this. I think you should look at what the green street on Bell is about.
However, most parks have those issues, people just believe them to be unsafe for some reason. Notice how much the play structure in Westlake got used? Rhetorical question. The answer is A WHOLE LOT! And everyone liked the park more for it. So whats the problem with more of that?

^Sorry, bad editing.
L10) non-criminal, family type...
L12) most parks do not have those issues
A really great playground would be awesome, but.... Downtown was always one of my favorite places to take my very young children when I lived in Seattle. The Seattle Art Museum has interesting toys and places to explore in their lobby, the Library has a great children's area and the sculpture garden was fun to explore in its own right, but the indoor area always had revolving toys that were pretty interesting. Cruising downtown Seattle with my children taught me more about how art and sculpture are integrated into the urban environment then I ever could imagine. Catching a walk-on ferry to Bainbridge to the Children's museum or to play at the playground there was fun too. If we wanted a kick ass playground, we'd go other places, and every neighborhood has pretty good pocket parks.

I guess the point I'm making is that having that kind of playground would be amazing, but having kids is also about exploring your world in ways you never imagined before, and I loved my time there with my boys. However, we were also pretty relieved to leave Seattle to move to a community that was more supportive to families and children.
All of y'all complaining about urban planning are a bunch of amateurs. Watch a professional, please.…
What? No links to these other famous awesome parks? It's like this wasn't even published on the Internet or something... o_O

Also, I disagree with the "kick ass playground" thesis. Kids these days are being raised by parents who don't know how to raise children and mollycoddle them. They let the children run the family, and that's a very bad scenario.

Instead of a 'kick ass' playground, I propose distributing more spankings.

Downtown playground. Absolutely not. People with children do not hang out downtown. The parents I know do not shop downtown, they only go downtown if they have tourists visiting or if they work down there. Put a first class playground in White Center, that is where childed people live. Or Columbia City. Where people live who have children who need or want public enrichment for their kids.

Downtown is for working, tourists and panhandling. with a side of peeing in public.
@28: professional complainer, exactly. kunstler hasn't planned shit - he just criticizes.

where could this playground go, anyway? it's not going in any of the "missing teeth" lots that are in private hands. those need to be built out.

our current, cramped downtown park space is really unsuited - it would be an afterthought. and i'd be loathe to put it in a location that needs sprucing up, like courthouse park, for reasons detailed ad nauseum above.

the most practical solution is to incorporate something like a "kick-ass playground" in the waterfront redevelopment.…
One thing to remember: a kick ass downtown playground means no nearby MJ sales
If Paris can have playgrounds all over the city, Seattle can fit ONE in!…

There is a small play area for kids every few blocks. Here is a list of all the playgrounds in Paris that the city provides:…
Something I and fellow activists have attempted, and failed, to lobby on behalf of for over thirty years was a National Playground Act, which would build an elaborate playground wherever a concentration of children exists.

These playgrounds were designed not only to provide play areas, but for overall mental and physical improvement, allowing computer access, general reference books and study areas, as well as gymnastic and the usual exercise/sports arenas.

Never got off the ground, alas........
Fuck downtown.

And, this is a re-run article from Goldy.

Wasn't the "kick-ass" playground supposed to go in at Seattle Center?
Okay, Goldy. Let me make a more constructive suggestion. One that doesn't make this a downtown vs. the neighborhoods issue.

Go ahead and build you "kick-ass playground" downtown. Build it at one of the existing downtown parks such as Denny Park, Cascade playground, South Lake Union park, or Seattle Center. The city should kick in as much as they offer for any neighborhood playground and you can raise the balance of the money privately from the various real estate developers who have built all of those residential spaces downtown without providing any of the infrastructure needed for residents, like schools, playgrounds, and playfields. While you're at it, have them pay impact fees for the other amenities that residents require.

Or, if this is really about playgrounds and not about Downtown, then let's build three kick-ass playgrounds on the City's dime - one in the north, one in the south, and one in West Seattle. The north one can go on top of the lid at the reservoir at 12th and 75th. The south one can go at Jefferson Park, which already has a damn fine playground, or further south within easy walking distance from a light rail station. The West one can go somewhere around High Point.
We used to have the Fun Forest, which wasn't exactly a playground, but still an affordable place to take kids and have fun, but it was decided that we needed the EMP and that Chihully gift shoppe for the crusie ship crowd.
If they build a new elementary school downtown, won't it have a playground? Why do we need to use a park and parks money to construct one?

A downtown elementary school is not likely to have a traditional playground next to it. The reason, and it's a good one since the city scrapes for every dollar, is that the potential school is part of a zoning package. As in, right now you could build a 16 story building on that block in SLU. BUT if you build a school on the first 2 or 3 floors you can make the building 24 stories tall. The developer wouldn't want to use a next door lot on a playground.
The upside is that the city doesn't have to buy the land(super expensive), still gets to collect property taxes on the building(yay revenue), and doesn't have to build it.
@38 odds are good a 'new elementary school downtown' winds up in Denny Triangle or Cascade, and given land costs probably is not a 'traditional' school anyway (envision three floors of a skyscraper kind of model).

I like Charlie's idea - Parks puts up what they'd put up anywhere else; if downtown wants kick-ass, let the developers foot the difference.
I'm not sure what you mean about developers not paying impact fees. Can you cite this for me? Im not expert, but I'm casually familiar with the development industry. In my experience it has looked as though they are paying impact fees.
Are you saying that the fees should be higher in order to pay for a capital project(like a new school), like how a big new suburban subdivision works? Usually they just pay impact fees for the amount of resources they are likely to need, which totally wouldn't get a capital project funded.
However, how would you decided where to draw the line between the two fee systems? Queen Anne has a school. Downtown needs one. Which fee would a new apt. tower in lower Queen Anne/Uptown pay? And wouldn't this maybe disencentivise(sp?) building in the place the city has specifically asked developers to build? Asked them to build there so it stays our of single family housing neighborhoods...
yes please.
Great idea.
Why on earth would we want to lure more children into downtown??? A city core should be an adult space. Kids belong in the burbs. I am so sick of every space being made “child friendly” I could puke. What the fuck is the point of zoning laws if not this???

We don’t put pot dispensaries and liquor stores across the street from schools. We shouldn’t put playgrounds across the street form bars and restaurants and businesses. You know… the places meant for those adults who work for a living to use.

If you must have a “kick-ass playground” (God you’re a moronic fool) put the damn thing in the middle of an existing park… Discovery Park has a lot of wide open space and I’m sure the hobos on the 33 would appreciate the shelter.
For the bums and crackheads to hang out

Put a gate around and charge $1 to get in. Problem solved.

@Catalina Vel-DuRay: We used to have the Fun Forest...but it was decided that we needed the EMP and that Chihully gift shoppe for the cruise ship crowd

The Fun Forest is gone because it couldn't pay rent.

As someone who used to take my kids on the small rides all the time, I think the problems were a) the expense maintaining the big rides, which were almost always empty, and b) they charged per ride instead of a single admission fee.
Does no one recognize that the 'distasteful people' that everyone is so distressed over most likely have no interest in being around children's spaces? Children make noise. Loud, high-pitched noise. They have parents with disapproving glares standing about watching them and everyone else. There is usually high traffic and authority figures. Spaces where children are are automatically not a place conducive to drug use, or more likely, the recovery from the previous night's use. What a buzzkill, and who can sleep with all that damn shrieking going on?

Maybe I would feel differently were I homeless and I would assume all public space is mine. But just as a regular person, I avoid child zones as much as humanly possible. A specialized kick-ass playground that attracted a high number of kids would be great, as it would leave other parks without kid amenities as more peaceful retreats.

Olympia built a gorgeous Children's Museum surrounded by an incredible small park made for kids. I never see the street kids and homeless there. Sylvester park has nothing for kids and families don't go there, and it is full of the kind of folks that routinely attract police attention.
No one is luring children anywhere. That's a very strange way to put it.
The government, after extensive citizen and neighborhood input(read "demand"), has decided to encourage new housing to be built in Downtown almost exclusively. If we are asking families to live there, family stuff would be nice right?
I also disagree with separating the city into kid-friendly and adult-friendly zones. I just don't see the point. Downtown is plenty big enough for tons of uses.
and actually, can Georgetown get a park? Or more green space? While you're at it. Thank you.
But really no. There is already a park in downtown Georgetown, with an awesome soccer field(love it). If Georgetown wants a new park, it would need to change its zoning to allow people to live there. Basically no one lives there.
@24 Wells is from Portland FWIW. He likes to tell Seattle what to do none the less.
some of you need to get out more often. as a former parks worker i've had a lot of experience with the "undesirables", and they fucking love to hang out around the playground. i've had parents ask me to chase away the junkies, clean up the used needles on the swingset, and pick up the used condoms on the slide.

of course, as a parks worker i just told them to fuck off.
Impact fees are paid by developers to cover part of the capital costs associated with providing public amenities required by the residents of new construction. For example, when a new housing tract is built the developer pays towards the obvious hard assets needed such as road improvements and utilities, but also pays towards the cost of parks and schools that will be needed by the people who move into the newly constructed homes.

These fees are set by and collected by the local government. Seattle has never collected impact fees for school construction.

Consider the huge redevelopment happening in Lake City. It includes the creation of hundreds (if not thousands) of new housing units. Families will move into those new homes and they will want to send their children to school, but the schools in that area are already full. The District will have to build new schools. This is going to cost tens of millions of dollars. The City could have and should have collected impact fees from the developers to pay for part of those school construction costs, but they chose not to - to reduce the burden on the developers and to help them keep the new homes affordable so they will sell faster.
Bark dust covered human excrement garnished with used needles and cum filled prophylactics. "WHAT'S THIS, DADDY?"
Given the cost/size of downtown rentals, I thought they were all about young tech workers? Most people living downtown are not in the reproductive phase of life yet, and most move to the 'burbs when they enter that phase.

Further, given the extreme "stranger danger" mentality - many parents might decline bringing their kids to a downtown park.
So which downtown park should be the site of this playground? I've got it! How about building it into the re-developed Yesler Terrace! That's downtown.
As I said above, I think the reasons for not charging impact fees for capital projects are a bit more reasonable than "we don't want developers to lose money or raise prices".
Seattle does collect fees for the impact on current schools. Seattle does not collect fees to pay for construction. I don't really think it would be a good way to pay for it. For example, if a school has an 800 student capacity, currently at 720. So the next 80 housing units pay an impact fee to pay for the teaching of their kids. What should the 81st pay? Do you spread the building of a new school over the next 500 units? How do you guarantee that all 500 get built, and you don't end up with a 800 capacity school with 1200 students?
I just don't think its a good way to go. If you can get a developer to build it outright (SLU plan), or do bonding, or run a levy, then you should do that.
That's not a bad idea, but I think it might be a little late. Their masterplan is already done, and already includes a lot of parkland, with one large one very central. I think as long as you don't have to redo any of the EIS that you could probably do something like that there.
On the other hand, Yesler Terrace in Downtown the same way that the lower slope of Cap Hill is Downtown. The article is talking about a truly central kids park.

Please wait...

Comments are closed.

Commenting on this item is available only to members of the site. You can sign in here or create an account here.

Add a comment

By posting this comment, you are agreeing to our Terms of Use.