City Hall Park plans a facelift as King County looks to avoid future encampments
The fences around downtown Seattle’s City Hall Park have the potential to come down within the next several months, but first King County must develop a plan to preserve the safety and integrity of the park.
Two high profile crimes connected to the park set off a series of protests that culminated in its indefinite closure: an attempted rape occurred at the nearby King County Courthouse in July and the month prior a person was stabbed to death in the park.
Looking ahead, the county plans to activate the park with regular events in the area, including incentivizing food trucks and buskers, scheduling concerts, stationing a concierge; increasing security by installing cameras and emergency call boxes, adding security staff, improving lighting and modulating park access with enforced park hours and safety fences.
“In keeping with the overarching safety and park use goals, it is the County’s objective to avoid future encampments at City Hall Park. Should an encampment circumstance occur, King County would utilize the same approach used to connect previous campers with appropriate resources and shelter,” a statement from King County reads, referencing the history of the park.
In August, the City of Seattle cleared a homeless encampment in the park, using social services like JustCARE to relocate nearly 80 people into shelters and tiny homes.
Months later, in December, King County Council approved a transfer of the park into their possession, swapping the park with the City of Seattle in exchange for 13 parcels of county land.
While that transfer was greenlit by the county, the Seattle City Council has to first approve the trade. Before that can happen though, the city’s parks department must submit a State Environmental Protection Act (SEPA) review, which is scheduled to conclude by June’s end, a spokesperson with Seattle Parks and Recreation confirmed.
Once that review has been posted, the council will take action approving or rejecting the transfer within several weeks, a spokesperson with the council said.