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All Over The Map: Help name three new Seattle parks

Lake Washington beach access at 130th Street in the Cedar Park Neighborhood has long been disputed. Now, it falls into the hands of the city as a public park. (Josh Kerns/KIRO Radio)

Usually on “All Over The Map,” heard Fridays on Seattle’s Morning News, we take, as Dave Ross says in the intro, “a quick look at the stories behind the names of local places.”

This week, you can be the story behind three yet-to-be named Seattle parks. It’s a perfect project for adults and kids to work on together, especially in this time of self-isolating at home and searching for projects to help keep the mind sharp.

Seattle Parks and Recreation is seeking public nominations for naming three small parks. Two are in the Lake City area, and one is in the International District. The deadline for submitting a nomination is Friday, May 1, and complete details about how to submit are available on the Parks and Recreation website.

The three new parks are:

Little Saigon, at 12th Avenue and Jackson Street

This park already has the “working title” or placeholder name of “Little Saigon,” because of its location in that part of the International District around 12th Avenue and Jackson Street, where many businesses are operated by immigrants from Vietnam and their descendants (and which has been informally known as “Little Saigon” for several decades).

The “Little Saigon” First Hill Line streetcar stop is also adjacent to the park.

According to the Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) website:

SPR purchased this .27-acre site in 2013 to provide the community access to open space within this high density urban area. SPR has been working diligently throughout the park design process with the community and with the Little Saigon Park Committee comprised of local business owners and community members, [Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation and Development Authority] SCIDPA, and Friends of Little Saigon. Through this work, the community has identified key elements within the park which include a plaza overlook, a multi-functional accessible ramp at the Jackson entrance, a play area, a program and event lawn at the King St. side, and amphitheater seating stairs with an event plaza. Plantings will have bold textures and bright color to reflect pan-Asian design.

Lake City Landbank Site, at 12510 33rd Avenue NE

This tiny park is in downtown Lake City, a block or so east of Lake City Way, and just north of NE 125th Street. The city purchased the real estate in 2010, following the principle of “land banking,” which is about buying land with future uses in mind. In this case, it was for parks and open space for a part of the city where the density has been increasing lately. There was previously a structure at the site – maybe a triplex – that has now been demolished.

According to the Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) website:

The new park will offer a multi-generational appeal with a wide range of activities and green space in this urban neighborhood. The park will include a half-basketball court, climbing structures, ADA pathway, picnic areas, open lawn, and bike racks. The park will include public art sculptural work by artist Elizabeth Gahan funded by the 1% For The Arts program.

NE 130th Street End, NE 130th Street at Lake Washington

This tiny 14,000 square foot parcel of lakeside land has been in the news for the past several years as adjoining property owners and neighbors battled over community access – a battle that included fences, “no trespassing” signs, protests, and legal actions.

Ultimately, the City of Seattle purchased the land, restored public access, and is in the process of formally integrating it into the park system. According to Seattle Parks and Recreation, “this tiny beach is accessible by foot or by bike and is most easily reached by the Burke-Gilman Trail.”

Paula Hoff, a strategic adviser in the Seattle Parks and Recreation Department superintendent’s office, says that the best ideas suggestions for naming parks are reflected in Seattle’s official parks naming criteria, which include “names that reference geographical location, historical or cultural significance, and natural or geological features.”

“We ask people to look at the what’s the geography of the site, the history of the site location and any other information that they feel would be appropriate,” Hoff said earlier this week. “Often, people spend a lot of time doing research and some people work in community groups to come up with naming suggestions, and then other people just throw whatever comes to mind out there.”

For those housebound during the pandemic, online resources like the King County Assessor’s Office, Seattle Public Library, and even Google Maps can help inspire possible naming suggestions – from names of nearby geographic features, former property owners, historical settlement history and Native American history.

Suggestions for park names must be submitted in writing by mail or email by Friday, May 1, 2020, and should include an explanation of how your suggestion matches the naming criteria: “Geographical location, historical or cultural significance, and natural or geological features.”

Send naming suggestions for one or more of the three parks to:

Seattle Parks and Recreation
Parks Naming Committee
100 Dexter Ave. N, Seattle, WA 98109

You can also send your submissions via e-mail to [email protected].

Paula Hoff says that staff will compile the suggestions and provide to the Parks Naming Committee, which, the website says, is comprised of “one representative designated by the Board of Park Commissioners; one by the Chair of the City Council Civic Development, Public Assets and Native Communities Committee; and one by the Parks Superintendent.”

That committee will then make a recommendation to Seattle Parks and Recreation Superintendent Jesús Aguirre. Aguirre will then make the final decision.

Hoff says timing is uncertain for formally naming these parks because of the pandemic, and because of other variables that may come up in the process. That all being so, it will likely take at least several months before the new names are announced.

You can hear Feliks every Wednesday and Friday morning on Seattle’s Morning News and read more from him here. If you have a story idea, please email Feliks here.

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