A lot has changed since 2016 when the Edmonds Civic Park Master plan was approved. This is why we have a city council to represent the people and make needed adjustments to best serve the people and our community. More than 48 private residential Edmonds property owners around Civic Field, together with most businesses in the downtown core, are requesting to add a designated parking lot and/or a “Flex” space lot to the Civic Park Master Plan.
Various local groups have requested that the city prioritize this issue of looking to add additional parking to the downtown area. (The Edmonds Downtown Businesses Alliance asked last fall in person). Seventeen businesses are happy to contribute their time and money to this request. I feel it’s appropriate for the city council to support revisiting the Civic Field Master Plan and open it back up for public input, as consensus is coming to a head.
My architect worked up a simple parking schematic below, using current Edmonds city codes, on a simple square piece of land of a half-acre flat plot (around 5 percent of Civic Field property). That’s essentially the size of the northwest corner of Civic Field, where the planned single seasonal tennis court and small flat grass space is to be located, while not impacting the future expansion footprint of the Boys & Girls Club of around 12,000 square feet located to the south.
The schematic shows that 58 additional parking spaces could easily be created. To put this in perspective, from the intersection of 3rd Avenue and Main Street all the way up to the intersection of 6th and Main Street, there are currently 57 public parking spaces combined. Imagine this, just two short blocks to the north you could add 58 parking spots to the downtown parking capacity bandwidth. I have included many other ideas the “Flex” lot could also support below, that could be great for our community.
It would be ideal to consider shifting the seasonal Petanque Club courts to the northwest corner where the single seasonal tennis court and drain field are currently planned. The petanque courts planned area is taking the most desired southern location in proximity to Main Street and Bell Street (the Summer Farmer’s Market entrance). Most of the petanque courts are part of the two acres that has the deed exemption with some just outside the exemption zone.
The two acres along most of 6th Avenue would in fact allow the parking lot within the confines of grant and deed restrictions that accompany the property. This would be ideal to support the park itself and downtown businesses. If the community is concerned about losing the single seasonal tennis court, you could keep it and shift two of the petanque courts to the northwest corner, freeing up space for an ideal multi-use “Flex” space location.
Justification to revisit Civic Master Plan and allow more public debate
- More than 80 percent of Edmonds residents live outside the “Bowl” and their taxes help pay for the park upgrade and ongoing maintenance. As they don’t have the luxury to walk and enjoy the new park, they deserve to have the option to hop in their cars and drive themselves and/or others there. Families will at least have a chance to find some parking to enjoy the park and downtown.
- Back in 2016 when the open houses and online input took place to help determine the Civic Park design, the recent Westgate development was not considered as a factor (2.2 miles away from park), nor was the Highway 99 and 234th planned five-story 193-unit complex taken into consideration (3.2 miles from the park). The Westgate development of 91 units logically will have 100 cars calling this complex their home by late 2019. The 234th Street 193-unit apartment complex will logically have at least another 200 cars calling this complex their home. The Civic Park master plan did not take into account the likely redevelopment of the Highway 99 corridor and high-density mixed-use zone plans, now the top priority in 2019 by the city. I can also mention many other various smaller townhome developments. For example, the 212th “Brackett’s Corner” of 14 townhomes on two parcels of land and such (1.8 miles away from park) and more of these future desired planning and in-process residential developments, are very impactful on parking demands around our city of Edmonds, especially downtown. The fact remains that these new residents of Edmonds will want to visit downtown and enjoy the new amazing multi-faceted park — that is not hard to foresee and anticipate. Although new commercial expansion is rare in our downtown, the “Main Street Commons” offerings will also contribute to more cars visiting the downtown area, with six new restaurant/retail offerings planned, drawing both locals and visitors to our downtown.
- With no other place to go, premium downtown business public street parking spaces will now be occupied by users of the newly updated Civic Park and its amenities, due to the park’s proximity to the downtown business corridor (page 15 of master plan — see above). This will have a very large negative impact that will grow stronger as population demands continue over the coming years. Our many downtown local businesses that sacrifice a lot to participate in our unique downtown deserve better.
- The opportunity to establish additional parking located at Civic Field is not only the most cost-effective dollar option the City of Edmonds may ever have, considering it’s a flat piece of land in the heart of our town, but the fact that construction is already starting to break ground, makes addressing this opportunity even more urgent. The recent comments by Sound Transit leadership quoted this year in a My Edmonds News article, “that structured parking was very expensive and that $40 million allocated for Edmonds & Mukilteo sites wouldn’t go very far in providing that” — regarding constructing a parking garage down at our train station — should reverberate concern among our leadership. Someday our community will have to spend millions of dollars to meet population growth and build additional parking facilities. Adding parking at Civic Field is not formally planned, as only redesigning already public street parking to angle parking (adding parking to the peripheral which then may take away a lane of traffic access or parking across the street), increasing parking permit costs, and installing community bikes are all current possible options. But those will not even come close to solving the massive parking challenge already occurring. The cost of a creating a simple ground level paved parking lot “Flex” space at the Civic Field site dwarfs what our community will pay in the future, and those future finite public funds saved by making smart decisions today, could be better allocated for more serious concerns in the future, such as the Edmonds Marsh restoration, to name just one.
- A pervious paving system reduces stormwater runoff and is a very attractive alternative to a traditional paved parking lot, great for assimilating into a park environment.
There are multiple uses for our community by considering this change
A half acre is 21,780 square feet. If it is a square, the sides would be approximately 104 feet long. Think of as a Flex-Use of 5 percent of the park, which could include:
- A small community seasonal ice-skating rink could be used at 50 feet by 100 feet, as shown below.
- Hosting some amazing community events.
Multiple businesses could help pay for a few weeks a year to set something like this. Local Windermere Agent Adam Cobb and I have already offered to sponsor the cost of the first year rental within a reasonable expense. Imagine the excitement from our community if we used the park for a holiday-type village for a few weeks in the winter for locals and visitors to support our town. Expanding on Economic Director Patrick Doherty’s idea of a Saturday Winter Market.
What other seaside town has an 8-acre park in the middle of it to draw visitors and locals alike, but the ones who visit need to be able to reasonably expect to find parking nearby or they will not stay or participate in any activities or events held there. There also needs to be ADA access to the park as well, especially if the new ADA playground is added, which this parking lot would easily and safely accommodate.
Employee parking use during off peak season and hours supporting the Neighborhood, Community & Business District
One concern is nobody wants to see an empty parking lot during the off-peak hours and low-usage times of the year.
Well, with the Civic Park’s close proximity within walking distance of a five-minute walk down to 2nd Avenue (see the Civic Master plan above), makes it a perfect space to allow local businesses a place for their employees to park. Using just a portion of the 58 parking spaces as an example, with a permit required for certain times of the year for a small fee, say Monday-Thursday 6 a.m.-4 p.m., would help alleviate some of the local neighborhood frustration of having many employees parking their cars for long durations of times and clogging up their neighborhoods and, as previously mentioned, freeing up premium business/retail parking spaces in our downtown core for people who want to spend their time in our town.
Food Truck Event Space
As Councilperson Neil Tibbott mentioned, using the parking lot as a food truck event space from time to time, is a fantastic idea.
I could imagine 8-10 or maybe even more food trucks utilizing this space for such events as our 4th of July celebration, or perhaps complimenting future music concerts at Civic Field, among other fun community-inspired events. Proceeds could all benefit Edmonds Parks and Recreation or perhaps such great causes like the Edmond Marsh revitalization fund or the ECA. Neil made a great point about wiring the parking lot for 120 volts stations to host local food trucks. These are the opportunities we have when an eight-acre park is getting a total makeover. Due to impervious area restrictions I have been informed this park will not allow food trucks to park directly on the park? If this is true, a big opportunity will be missed as already residents and visitors have been drawn to the park every year with the Taste Edmonds event, a large community and money-making event for our chamber. What a shame if we lose this opportunity.
Farmer’s Market current support and future expansion/when parking lots have no more community value
The parking lot could also be used to host more parking for our visitors to our summer Farmer’s Market and eventually use the planned promenade (permanent shed system for year-round farmer’s market is in the future, I hear?) allowing for an expansion of the Summer Market to continue from Bell Street up to Civic Field ending at the multi-use parking lot. Last summer, my family visited the Freeland Farmer’s Market on Whidbey Island, and they have about a 60-car capacity parking lot directly across the street. If they did not have that available, I would not have stopped and spent money and supported local small farmers and small businesses in that community.
If 10-15 years from now, parking lots are a thing of the past, like many in the leadership believe, we can convert this space to a year-round Farmers Market and event space shed system, as other cities have created.
The neighborhood group surrounding Civic Field has organized and expanded, and has created a petition for locals and businesses to sign, asking council to revisit the schematic plans of Civic Field up for review in April.
Let’s allow more public debate and thought to include designated parking of some sort.
Attend the Friends, Businesses & Neighbors open house meeting this Friday, March 29 at 6 p.m. at the Edmonds Senior Center, Library room, 220 Railroad Ave., to discuss parking concerns. Petitions are available to sign, provided by the neighborhood.
Please voice your support for council to revisit Civic plans at email@example.com
— By Michael McMurray