Those attending Wednesday night’s third and final open house in the Edmonds Civic Park Playfield design process got a first look at a hybrid plan aimed at incorporating the most desired features of two earlier designs.
“I have to confess I’ve seen a peek at the plan and my view of the world is, I think it’s fabulous,” Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling said in introductory remarks before the plan was unveiled in the Edmonds Library Plaza Room. “It may not be exactly the way you envisioned it, but it answers so many questions and so many requests.“
During the first open house in June and a second in August, the mission of city staff, consultants from Walker Macy and the citizen-based project advisory committee has been to gather input to develop a final design for the 8-acre site — purchased in late 2015 from the Edmonds School District — that included features desired by the attendees.
“Everything is really based on community input,” said Chris Jones of Walker Macy, who noted that the process started with 400 ideas shared by attendees during the first open house. “We’re hearing you and doing the best we can with the amount of land we have.”
The two designs released during the second open house included the more passive Meadow Loop — favored by 35 percent of those attending both in-person and online open houses — and the more active Activity Central, which was the favorite of 65 percent of attendees. The hybrid design unveiled Wednesday was an effort to combine the best of both earlier designs, including slightly elevated lawn terraces for event viewing, sinuous walking trails and a large multi-use lawn area.
Lara Rose, the project’s lead design principal, explained that the goal in combining the two designs was to retain some of the soft edges from Option 1 while accommodating rectangular features such as sport courts. The hybrid design includes walking paths that meander through gently rolling berms, plus exercise stations built into a track that circles the park perimeter.
“While not a formal running track, it is a perfect third of mile and so if you run three loops you have run one mile,” Rose said.
Nestled into the berms are a picnic area, a skate park and a large play area. Curved view terraces, replacing aging wooden grandstands now on the site, overlook the playing field/festival space. There is a small shade pavilion with restrooms and park storage, and six petanque courts set in a grove of trees.
The skate park, which would replace the one currently at Civic Field, would be sunk at just below grade with berms providing sound protection, Rose explained.
The 5,000-square-foot Boys and Girls Club building currently on the site would be remodeled to provide more space — two options include a “modest expansion” to 12,000 square feet connected to the existing building or a larger, 20,000-square-foot facility, “maybe at the far end of the park,” Rose said.
Project consultants also paid particular attention to the way different-sized events could work in the park, ranging from large-scale activities such as the A Taste of Edmonds and the Fourth of July fireworks to smaller musical or theater performances, Rose explained.
“Many people have given us feedback on the Taste and the Fourth of July– some strongly in favor, some strongly opposed — and what we have done is create a space that is fairly flexible but not specifically designed for the Taste,” Rose said.
A new idea that came up since the last open house was creating a “festival street” along 6th Avenue that would include nicer paving, lower curbs and trees. Such a design “signals to cars you are in a pedestrian zone and is also designed in a way that can be set up for markets and festivals and events,” Jones explained.
Attendees were given an opportunity to ask questions at the end of the formal presentation, and they focused on the following:
Sports field lighting: A question was raised about the soccer field lights shown in the current hybrid design, since they interrupt the “flow” of the meadow design. Rose said the team would investigate whether it would be possible to relocate the lights to either end of the field rather than in the middle.
Fencing: Residents living next to the park expressed safety concerns about the lack of fencing between the park and Bell and Daley streets. Jones replied that based on community feedback, fences weren’t planned for the park; instead, landscaping would be used to direct people to certain locations for park entry and exit. “There’s a lot of interest in keeping this park as porous a possible so we just have to look at balancing the needs of adjacent owners who are concerned about safety and other community’s interest who doesn’t live net door to the park,” Jones said.
Location of the skate park: Nearby residents said they were worried about noise concerns related to the skate park, which is located near town homes and condos. Rose said it’s possible the location of the play area and the skate park could be flipped to address that concern. In fact, the consultants urged citizens to offer comments regarding relocation of any program elements, since the design provides for flexibility.
Park maintenance: Noting that the new design contains a large amount of green space and landscaping, a citizen asked if that would increase park maintenance. Jones said the consultants have been working with parks maintenance staff on the design, adding that “definitely a park of this size and caliber will have more maintenance requirements. It will increase and we are keeping that in mind as we go forward.”
Parking: An audience member asked if parking would be incorporated into the park design. While parking is a challenge in Edmonds, “it was determined early on we did not want to take up valuable park space with parking, Jones said. The city may be able to add six or seven new on-street parking spaces on 6th and 7th Avenues as a result of the park redesign, he added.
After the Q and A session, attendees were able to view the design elements on poster boards placed around the room, adding stickers to their favorite elements.
According to Edmonds Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Director Carrie Hite, those who couldn’t attend Wednesday’s open house can participate in a virtual open house for the next two weeks at this web address: https://edmondscivicfield.participate.online/
Next, the Civic Field project advisory committee will meet “to dissect all of the public input and give guidance to our consultant team,” Hite said.
Finally, the plan will come before both the Edmonds Planning Board and City Council with public hearings in November:
- Planning Board Meeting and Public Hearing, Wednesday, Nov. 9
- City Council Meeting and Public Hearing, Tuesday, Nov. 22
The hope is to have City Council approval of a final plan by the first quarter of 2017, Jones said.
— By Teresa Wippel