The Seattle Center killed a proposal to use the Fun Forest site, claiming private enterprise would destroy plans for green space, and then turned around to back plans for a private Chihuly museum on the same site.
John Sutherland, an administrator at the University of Washington, submitted a proposal to Seattle Center director Robert Nellams in 2007. Sutherland proposed demolishing the covered pavilion and creating a greenbelt/picnic area, adding new rides in the kids area, and introducing six new major amusement park rides, including a roller coaster. Sutherland's plan also called for a kid's public playground and a water play area.
When Sutherland was submitting his proposal, the Seattle Center master planning process (formally called the Century 21 Master Plan) was just beginning. He attended "at least 60 different meetings," he says, during which officials and the public made it clear that what the people wanted was more green space. In the end, Sutherland says, Nellams told him that the proposal was not going to happen. "And I thought that was fair," says Sutherland. "Even though my proposal incorporated green space, I thought we lost fair and square. It wasn't what the people wanted."
But following the Seattle Center's logic—that people want lawns, not private enterprise on the site—the people also don't want a Chihuly museum, says Sutherland. "This is a private collection, and private collections belong on private property. This project is not appropriate for the space."
The Seattle Center has worked with the Space Needle for over a year to develop a plan for the space, says Space Needle CEO Ron Sevart. "We've been following the leadership of the Seattle Center through this process," he says.
The Seattle Center recently announced it will begin seeking bids for ways to use public land in Seattle Center in mid-April. This is a welcome transparency to what has been a largely closed process. A request for proposals, as the bid-seeking process is called, essentially allows anyone the opportunity to submit ideas for developing or otherwise using the space.