Madison Park residents argue against removing beach fence due to safety, parking

Plans to remove a fence separating a park just north of Madison Park Beach from the waterfront have proven to be controversial among locals, who cite children’s safety and summer parking issues as reasons to keep the fence.

Citizens packed the November 3 Parks Board meeting to express their thoughts on the controversial fence, which has separated the north beach since 1945. A recent Parks staff proposal would increase access to what little waterfront property the city owns, not to mention add more waterfront access within easy access of the Central District.

One commenter wanted to defend the “exclusive” nature of the neighborhood, while another was concerned about property values if “all kinds of other people” came to use the park. Other commenters argued that parks are for everybody, and that the city has experience creating many miles of safe shoreline parks.

You can get a sampling of the comments from Seattle Channel below (it appears some of the comments are missing from the SC website). A decision from the Parks Board is expected next month, and the Parks Department Superintendent will have the final say.

Madison Park Blogger has a summary of the debate:

Those residents of the “surrounding neighborhood” who live closest to Swingset Park, however, are the adjacent condo owners; and they don’t seem to be particularly happy about the new “opportunities” that the fence removal might create for them. Apart from the safety-of-children issue, their apparent principal concerns are parking disruption and the noise and crowding that may result from increased park usage.  It is rumored (and was reported today as a fact by The Seattle Times) that residents have chartered a bus to bring Madison Parkers to tonight’s hearing.  Local opposition to the fence’s removal has been successful in the past, according to the briefing memo, which states that in 2003 a proposal to take the fence down was “shelved due to the volume of negative comments received.”

Since the Parks Department staff acknowledges that the reason for the fence when erected was the safety of children, we asked what has changed since that time.  According to spokesperson Dewey Potter, what’s different now is a change in public attitudes. “Public awareness and interest in public spaces being open to the public is not the same as it was in 1945,” she told us.  The policy of providing maximum access to the the Lake Washington shoreline is what’s driving the process this time.


24 thoughts on “Madison Park residents argue against removing beach fence due to safety, parking

  1. “One commenter wanted to defend the “exclusive” nature of the neighborhood”

    Yep, this fence should come down ASAP.

  2. This is public shoreline.
    This is a public park.
    It should not be fenced off.
    End of story.
    It’s really that simple.

  3. “while another was concerned about property values if “all kinds of other people” came to use the park”

    I’m going out of my way to use this park now.

    It’s city property you jerks.

  4. “which has separated the north beach since 1945”

    How in the sweet heck have they been allowed to fence off city property for the “exclusive nature of the neighborhood” (that phrase enrages me into a psycho frenzy) SINCE 1945?????????????

    What the crap?

  5. The Washington Shoreline Management Act requires public access to all public shorelines. If they do not open it up it is against state law.
    This is similar to the street ends project that opened up street ends on the lake. Of course we all know why they do not want it open.

  6. I think it was originally fenced sometime after a kid drowned there in 1945 or so. Open it up i say

  7. Just like Kemper Freeman thinking light rail will bring “all kinds of people” to Bellevue, the fine folks of Madison Park think additional beach access will bring “all kinds of people” to their neighborhood ….

    we know exactly what this means

  8. why, somehow, is it somehow more dangerous than the shoreline on the other side by the wading beach? Can kids not drown there?

    The city intends to do some fill to make the beach more swim-able, if I read correctly. Their complaints are weak and elitist.

  9. I for one and going to head down to Madison and take a grumpy on somebody’s lawn. Our madison neighbors seem to have @#%t for brains.

  10. This fence has saved thousands of city children from certain death! Let’s fence off all of Lake Washington. Let’s drain it and give the land away to dis-advantaged people. If you disagree with me, it is only because you hate (xyorz) people.

  11. Never saw so many cars from Bellevue in our exclusive neighborhood since McGilvra’s opened- makes it hard to drive home at night when all the boomers are lost looking for parking or standing in the middle of the street. I get it- they are so entitled they should never use sidewalks! Thanks McGilvra’s for bringing that Kirkland trash to our side of the lake!

  12. Unless something has changed recently….the park itself is not fenced off from anything. The park is totaly open to all. The fence is at the rocky shoreline with blackberry bushes. You should go check it out before reaching conclusions. The fence is at the far east edge of park at rockery. I never really understood what the park is for. Sounds expensive to me to remove fence and clean up shoreline. But it woul dbe nice if their was parks department budget to make it like Seward or Madrona walkway or mad park beach.

  13. I hope the City does not get swayed by the neighbors who packed the meeting. There is much support for opening the beach. I hope the City knows it.

  14. I am all for open parks but have any of you been down to the end of Madison on a sunny weekend in August? Have you seen the traffic? Unless they plan on demolishing some homes and/or the hideous condo’s that went up in the 60’s and 70’s (take a look from the water sometime at how unsightly these buildings are) for parking, extending this would be a huge mistake. While I don’t live in MV, I am there often and can respect what some of these neighbors are saying. I’m not condoning everything they say (I was not at the meeting) but to denigrate every person who LIVES IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD by calling them selfish is obtuse.

  15. Difficult parking can be addressed. Perhaps this is not a great destination park then. However it can be designed to have open access to water and better views of the lake and yet be designed as a lower impact park. Let’s look at a few options. 1) Restor the natural habitat on 60% of the area. 2) Viewing areas. 3) Make it a bicycle destination hub with plenty of racks. Perhaps a triathalon training area. 4) A kayak rental consetion that contributes operating funds. This would enhance the excersize opportunities for all the weeklings and fatties in Seattle. Perhaps we can cut down on what a bunch of sissies we have here. 5) Duck and Goose hunting area. People can let their dogs loose on the water foul and shoot with wooden bullets. Lot’s of people need the food and this would help reduce fecal coliform and other issues with goose droppings. 6) A dog water access park where people can legally let their dogs swim. Seattle has terribly oppressed animal rights to swim. Swimming is a right not a privilage. We should demand that all creatures be allowed to swim. This is the most important point. Water access must be granted and encouraged or we should riot.

  16. Of course your right jomama. Just like us up north in Lauralhurst it would just silly to open the shoreline there. There are beaches for “those” in the CD down at Madrona, Leshi and Mt. Baker. They should form a private Madison beach club there.
    No, your right, they should just stay south of Union St, nothing north of there of interest, just stay in your place.

  17. Hi all! On Sat. Nov. 19th from 2 to 4 come down to what I call the “1%” Park at E 43rd and E Lynn. I will have a petition for the Parks Dept. supporting their position of removing the fence. Before you come try Google Earth for this bit of public park that has not really been used by the general public for years. You will see the view of Madison Beach with wall to wall people and at the same time up at the “1%” park exactly ONE person on a towel! What an example of the 99% and the 1%!!!

  18. A zillion angry comments from people who haven’t bothered to view the area. The park is and always was totally accessible. I’ve been taking my kids there from our crappier part of the CD for 18 years. The fence merely keeps kids from falling in the water. It doesn’t restrict access to the park in any way.

  19. Agreed! Many commenters seem to have no idea what they are talking about. Beach access is only steps away where all of Seattle can come to swim safely. The fenced park does not prohibit anyone from entering the park, only fences off water access to both residents of Madison Park and their fellow Seattlites. Maybe people should check it out before giving input on something they know nothing about.