Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) announced that Cal Anderson Park reopened on Wednesday, December 23 with more activities, maintenance, and services planned for 2021. SPR and other City departments have worked with community members to identify next steps and to develop a plan for key changes within the Capitol Hill neighborhood to create a safe and welcoming environment for all including ongoing outreach for individuals experiencing homelessness on Capitol Hill. Beginning this week, SPR will also begin to bring new activation activities to the park.
Several City departments have been engaging with community, business owners, and neighbors to re-envision this park and the surrounding blocks to be safer, more welcoming and inclusive, and to honor the protests that took place here. SPR will be announcing additional engagement in early January to provide additional feedback and suggestions on what community members would like to see at Cal Anderson. Please check SPR’s website (http://www.seattle.gov/parks/) for updates on the meeting and how to join.
“Cal Anderson Park has been an epicenter for activism and social justice movements for decades and is the heart of the Capitol Hill community. As we move into 2021, Cal Anderson will continue to be a hub for the entire community —neighbors and park visitors alike,” said Mayor Jenny Durkan. “As we reopen the park, the community and the City will continue its ongoing conversation to provide services to those who are unhoused, create new ongoing activities to support diverse community needs, increase safety, and restore the vibrancy and inclusivity of the Capitol Hill neighborhood.”
“During the pandemic, access to outdoor space and recreation activities has been more important than ever for the physical and mental wellbeing of so many in our community. The reopening of Cal Anderson Park restores essential open space in this dense and vibrant neighborhood,” said Superintendent Jesús Aguirre. “Starting this week, we will begin offering new recreation activities at the park. These activities are just the beginning and we look forward to continuing to work with the community to build on these efforts to support a more inclusive park that reflects community needs and desires for this important gathering space.”
Prior to the park reopening, SPR crews had conducted a surge in maintenance since last Friday to address backlogs in grounds maintenance, building repair, graffiti removal, and litter pick-up including the removal of 100 tons of debris such as large pallets and furniture. Maintenance and repair work will continue and some areas of the park, including two of the comfort stations and the shelter house, still need substantial repair work. SPR decided to open the park while we continue to do significant repair and restoration work in order to provide the community with access to the park as soon as possible.
Since Friday, City-funded outreach providers, like REACH, Urban League, and LEAD, have been engaging existing or potential clients in and around the park, resulting in 12 referrals to hotels and shelter. Outreach workers engaged people around the park on Monday and this work will be ongoing in the Capitol Hill area. In recent weeks, providers reported 51 individuals were connected to safe places from the Cal Anderson Park area – including hotels, tiny homes, and shelter beds.
SPR looks forward to collaborating with community and the Cal Anderson Park Alliance to determine next steps on bringing about programs and activities around community needs and values. As this work continues, SPR is set to begin initial activation activities in the park starting this week, such as setting up ping pong tables and outdoor dining areas, as well as creating a scavenger hunt for kids and a map for walking loops around the park and the surrounding neighborhood in order to encourage folks to explore our parks while following social distancing and masking guidelines. Please visit SPR’s blog (https://parkways.seattle.gov/) for updates on park activities. During the pandemic, all activation activities will follow COVID-19 public health guidelines, and we ask that anyone visiting parks or play areas use a face covering, practice social distancing, and wash hands frequently.
In service of longer-range community values and desires for the park, community engagement and planning efforts will continue around restoring current art, bringing in new art, restoring the fountain and other historic features of the park, partnering to pilot a garden, and more.
For information on how community and neighbors can participate and contribute to these efforts at Cal Anderson please visit the Cal Anderson webpage.