Mayor Durkan ‘in conversation’ to remove East Precinct wall, reopen Cal Anderson Park
Seattle city officials confirmed Wednesday that Mayor Jenny Durkan is entering into talks to remove the concrete wall surrounding the city’s East Precinct, and reopen neighboring Cal Anderson Park.
Cal Anderson Park has been closed since June 30, with city officials citing the need to enact repairs after a summer of protests, and repeated clearances of homeless encampments in the area. The concrete wall around Capitol Hill’s East Precinct went up in late August, “in an effort to protect the facility from arson and other damages,” after a 19-year-old from Alaska was arrested and federally charged for attempting to set fire to the building.
Capitol Hill found itself at the center of several clashes between police and protesters starting in late May. That saw SPD temporarily abandon the East Precinct in June, leading to the creation of the now-infamous Capitol Hill Occupied Protest. After four shootings over a 10-day period in or around the CHOP, police cleared demonstrators from the area in early July.
Cal Anderson Park was the location of several subsequent controversies in the weeks to follow, including a religious rally attended by hundreds of unmasked participants, an incident where protesters reportedly chased private security out of the park, and a pair of sweeps by police to clear homeless encampments and aid tables.
On Wednesday, a spokesperson from Seattle Parks and Recreation confirmed to MyNorthwest that Mayor Durkan and city staff “continue to be in conversation with neighbors and businesses” about taking down the precinct wall and fully reopening Cal Anderson.
This came after a report from the Capitol Hill Seattle Blog, where Mayor Durkan stressed an “urgent” need to open up those spaces for the sake of neighborhood businesses and residents.
“It is our densest neighborhood with a very high ratio of people who are renters,” she told CHS. “There’s very little open space.”
City officials expect to have “more details in the coming weeks” regarding plans to reopen the park and remove the precinct wall.