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March 2013
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CityLink Seattle

New play area opens at Westlake Park

mayor westlake play 02

Mayor Mike McGinn joins members of the community to cut the ribbon on the new play area.

The Downtown Seattle Association (DSA), City of Seattle and Seattle Children’s Research Institute have partnered to open a brand new play area in Westlake Park.

The year-round play area includes a soft, rubber-like surfacing and a Geode by Goric.  This large, netted spherical structure and a collection of large domes is surrounded by a fence with bench seating in some areas.  The design and elements involved were selected specifically with sightlines and function in mind, as the structures do not obstruct views to the retail spaces and through the park. Geode is designed to be used by children up to 12 years old.

Currently, amenities for families, such as parks and play areas for kids, are deficient within the Downtown core, with an exceedingly low number of existing public spaces oriented or designed for children.  Filling this gap has become imperative with some 3,000 children calling Downtown home and the Downtown residential population increasing by 20 percent since 2000, and more than 70 percent since 1990. The play area will also serve as an amenity for the tens of thousands of children who visit Downtown every year.

Children joined Mayor Mike McGinn at the opening of the new play area.

Children joined Mayor Mike McGinn at the opening of the new play area.

“You can’t really have a neighborhood without families, and young families deserve easily accessible play spaces,” said DSA President & CEO Kate Joncas. “Attracting and retaining families is a top priority for making Downtown a diverse and healthy neighborhood and the new play area certainly helps.”

In addition to bringing a fun and family friendly environment, the new play space will also provide health benefits.  A study led by Seattle Children’s Research Institute found that children living in neighborhoods with favorable neighborhood environment attributes, including quality parks, had 59 percent lower odds of being obese.

“More than 30 percent of American children and teens are obese or overweight,” said Seattle Children’s Research Institute President Dr. James Hendricks. “Children need spaces like this play area so that they can be physically active, and research also shows that outdoor play time helps improve Vitamin D levels and mental health.”

“We’re excited to be a party to bringing this great new amenity to the heart of downtown,” said Seattle Parks and Recreation Superintendent Christopher Williams.” Every activity that draws families to the park makes it a better place.”