Seattle City Hall Park reopens, hoping to shed troubled past

Jun 13, 2023, 9:56 AM | Updated: 10:58 am

Seattle city hall park...

SeattleCity Hall Park (David Lee via Flickr)

(David Lee via Flickr)

After being closed for almost two years, Seattle City Hall Park is being reopened Tuesday with Seattle hoping that several improvements will help prevent the park from returning to its reputation as a dangerous and crime-ridden area.

The historic 1.3-acre park next to the King County Courthouse has been closed since August 2021, during which $1.3 million was spent on several park improvements to increase safety, including hiring two park rangers to patrol the area.

Seattle to maintain control of troubled City Hall 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 2021. and a person was stabbed to death in the park a month prior.

An encampment was cleared within the park following an attack inside the courthouse, allegedly by a resident of that camp in August 2021. The park has remained closed since that encampment was cleared.

“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.

For a while the city tried to give control of the park over to the county, and King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn also tried to condemn the park over safety concerns.

The reopening is part of the Mayor’s Downtown Activation Plan, which aims to regulate public drug use, make safety improvements in the downtown core, and bring people back to businesses in the area.

“The expansion of the Seattle Restored program across the city and beyond the downtown core means more neighborhoods, business districts, and communities benefit from a boost in engagement and activity,” said Harrell. “Activating formerly vacant spaces with opportunities for small businesses, local artists, and new entrepreneurs is how we can re-energize our Seattle economy, improve public safety, and drive equity — all at the same time.”

The mayor said that the park will now regularly feature things like food trucks, art installations, and music to entice downtown workers to visit.

The reopening celebration featured an all-day event packed with activities, including live music performances by local bands, lawn games, and buskers.

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Seattle City Hall Park reopens, hoping to shed troubled past