Everett official dodges key question about gazebo-saving compromise

Mar 1, 2024, 5:07 PM

Image: Everett Historical Commissioners look on as City of Everett officials present their plan to ...

Everett Historical Commissioners look on as City of Everett officials present their plan to demolish a historic gazebo at Clark Park in order to discourage criminal and other unwanted activity. (Photo: Feliks Banel, KIRO Newsradio)

(Photo: Feliks Banel, KIRO Newsradio)

After last Tuesday night’s meeting of the Everett Historical Commission to address the City of Everett’s recently announced demolition plans for the Clark Park gazebo, KIRO Newsradio reached out to City of Everett spokesperson Simone Tarver early Wednesday to request an interview with Mayor Cassie Franklin and ask if Franklin would be willing to accept the solution that was proposed at the meeting.

As KIRO Newsradio reported Wednesday, key city and neighborhood stakeholders appear to believe building a new off-leash dog area first without demolishing the historic gazebo is a smart way to potentially address long-standing issues at Clark Park, and to hopefully preserve a rare and beloved piece of the city’s early history. The theory is that the dog park alone will “activate” the park, draw more regular daily visitors, and reduced unwanted activities there – and that it’s at least giving this theory a try before taking the irreversible step of demolishing the historic gazebo.

Previous coverage: Will Everett mayor accept compromise to save Clark Park gazebo?

On Wednesday afternoon, City of Everett spokesperson Simone Tarver responded by email to KIRO Newsradio’s follow-up questions about the meeting and regarding the request to interview Mayor Franklin.

“We anticipate having more to share on this soon that will likely answer the questions you note below,” Tarver wrote just before 1 p.m. Wednesday. “I’d need to follow up on the interview request.”

Everett spokesperson responds

On Friday afternoon, having not yet heard back from Tarver, KIRO Newsradio reached out again. Tarver sent a long email late Friday that repeated many of the talking points she had shared earlier, and dodged key questions – about the possible compromise, and also about why the Everett Historical Commission members were given documents about Clark Park only seconds before the meeting began rather than the customary several days in advance.

‘Don’t blame the gazebo’: Everett residents iced out of demolition plans

In her email, Tarver dodged KIRO Newsradio’s direct question about whether Mayor Franklin is willing to accept the compromise that would allow for building of the dog park and for preservation of the gazebo. Tarver also did not respond to requests for an interview with Mayor Franklin.

Tarver’s full email said the following:

As mentioned at the meeting, the Parks team will be working on additional visuals for the dog park, including options to incorporate stylistic aspects of the gazebo into the dog park design. The next step is bringing those options to the March historical commission meeting and getting their feedback on them.

And regarding outreach ahead of the meeting, the agenda and materials were shared on their webpage, as is the standard practice.

In addition, this has been an ongoing topic of conversation for decades and there have been numerous attempts over the years to reactivate the park – both with the gazebo fenced and with it unfenced. Basically, anytime it’s unfenced, illegal and otherwise undesired and unwelcoming conduct returns and increases.

The city is not in any way under the impression that the removal of one gazebo is going to solve homelessness, the drug crisis or the behavioral health crisis. Those are all very real challenges in Everett and in communities throughout our region. We are addressing those challenges, doing things like partnering to increase support and services for those who are struggling, increasing shelter options, expanding our embedded social worker team, and advocating for more resources. We’re also doing what we can to mitigate the resulting impacts on the community – because there are serious impacts to public safety.

But this neighborhood park is meant to be a space where all are welcome, and the fact is – it’s currently not. Investing in reactivating that space, by adding a dog park, will help make the park more welcoming for the community.

And lastly – I’ll add that I live in Everett and I’ve lived here my entire life. I used to live in the Bayside Neighborhood and I went to the high school up the street. The gazebo has been an attractive nuisance my entire life. My mom grew up across from Clark Park and has baby pictures sitting there with her dad, enjoying a picnic. That is not the reality of today and it hasn’t been for a long time. It’s unfortunate but it’s the truth.

Should we have any further updates, I will let you know.

You can hear Feliks every Wednesday and Friday morning on Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien, read more from him here, and subscribe to The Resident Historian Podcast here. If you have a story idea or a question about Northwest history, please email Feliks here.

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