Yesterday Seattle Parks officials responded to our request for more details on the controversial removal of the new stone sofa that had been installed at 23rd & Cherry, next to the Garfield Community Center.
Parks spokesperson Joelle Hammerstad said that the original design for the area was intended to be “a visually pleasing landscaped area” and not a bench or other area used for gathering.
She also confirmed that safety concerns and the lack of visibility from inside the building were the main reasons to remove the sofa:
There were many folks who didn’t like the bench, notably members of the Garfield Community Center Advisory Council because of the potential for safety issues at that corner. The concern was that the bench would become a magnet for kids to congregate, which wouldn’t be a problem if it was on the east side of the building where the play area and ballfield are, and where staff at the community center can keep an eye on things. But a place for kids to congregate in a location that is a completely blind corner to the staff in the building presented a potential safety problem.
It still seems regrettable that we can’t find a way to enhance safety on that corner through activation and adding eyes on the street, and instead focus on discouraging a community presence there.
It’s particularly disappointing that the community center wants to discourage people from congregating there. Yes, that area has been a problem for the neighborhood, but I don’t think the solution is to keep its exterior as a sterile space, empty of people. Making the area safe and welcoming for EVERYONE – not just a small group of problem teenagers – should be the goal.
Uh, ok. so why was the stone sofa put there in the first place if it’s such an apocalyptic safety hazard????
Frickin’ geniuses. Oh, but the city has a budget surplus right? So no worries.
So instead, the bus top kitty corner will continue to attract the problems, and it can continue to be Metro’s problem, not the city’s. Bravo Seattle Parks, good deflection.
seems it was a creative groundskeeper who had a vision of a nice place to hang out… see previous article: http://www.centraldistrictnews.com/2010/08/18/new-stone-sofa
Sometimes if there are many complaints regarding the negative uses of bus stops benches or shelters will be removed, punishing law abiding citizens with no shelter and no bench. Even if I don’t sit to wait for a bus, I appreciate having a spot where I can set bags, backpacks or whatever I may be carrying while I wait or simply to momentarily reorganize.
The sofa gave a friendly ambiance to the corner. More of that would be good for all.
The Master Pedestrian Plan adopted by the City Council urges the placement of benches for the elderly to do just what joanna suggests in the previous comment. When we are trying to get more folks walking, shouldn’t they have the amenities necessary? I think we can be shot at walking as well as sitting and I am not an advocate of staying indoors. Creative artistic benches should be encouraged.
Perhaps when the Mater Pedestrian Plan was presented to the public, they forgot to present it to other city departments? I don’t think so.
Fear of lawsuits, fear of conflict, fear of stats, fear of the mere possibility of violence, fear of letting kids -some old enough to drive- stand on our sidewalks and sit in our open space by themselves. So sad.
It’s really often all boiled down to fear of losing control. Whether this angle about ‘not being able to see the kids’ is true, or whether it was a como of that and vindictive parks supervisor undoing something creative and right.
Truth is, you don’t have control, you only have an illusion. Keep fooling yourselves. But leave us and our simple joys like sculpture OUT OF IT next time.
We can do better, fellow citizens. I’m sure of it.
Sometimes a bench is just a bench. Other neighbohoods get benches on the street without a fuss and there is praise for SDOT. The parks dept has a donation site for memorial benches. If not here, where better a place.
One more piece of evidence that we live in a Nanny State. Pretty soon the same people will be telling us not to be reading books with dangerous ideas that cannot be easily watched over.
If OUR community center representatives do not truly represent our wishes, how do we replace them? Are they voted into these positions, or is it just a good old boy network that hold dictatorial power? Also, if it was the “Garfield Community Center Advisory Council” that requested removal of this bench, how is it that they were unaware of how much popular feedback this bench brought? As with the community center, how do we replace these folks?
I thought the bench had brought wonderfully positive feedback, and yes, even a bit of community pride. I know I had had to walk over to view it, and to sit a few mintutes.
I encourage people to consider participating so that some voice of reason can resonate with this bizarro, paranoid group that frowns on useful public art. See http://www.cityofseattle.net/Parks/centers/Garfield/advisory to get info on how to join. Quote for Seattle.gov site: “Our Advisory Council is always looking for new members. Meetings are held on the second Monday evening of every month to talk about programs, policies, and financial growth.”
Read your jane jacobs, jan gehl and william whyte…
Is filled with older folks with lots of time on their hands who want to protect their turf and older visions of the area. Get involved, but don’t expect them to give up their power easily – they’re entrenched – and only respect their own agenda.