The Parks Department will tear down a fence separating the Madison Park North Beach from Lake Washington after 67 years and several years of community debates. The fence could come down early next year.
Some residents argued against taking down the fence because they feared it is unsafe. Parks staff says the city has many miles of shoreline and thinks it can manage this section safely.
Others argued that traffic and parking would be worse if the beach were to fill with people on nice days the way Madison Park Beach does just a block south. At a public hearing November 3, some even said they wanted to protect the “exclusive” nature of the neighborhood. Others argued that the city needs (and is required by law) to open as much public shoreline as it can.
From Seattle Parks:
Acting Seattle Parks Superintendent Christopher Williams has approved the phased removal of the shoreline fence at Madison Park’s north shoreline, located at the intersection of East Lynn Street and 43rd Avenue East.
Williams’ decision follows a recommendation from the Board of Park Commissioners at its Thursday, December 8, 2011 meeting to remove the fencing.
“Seattle Parks and Recreation owns and manages more than 20 miles of shoreline along Lake Washington and Puget Sound, and associated tributaries,” said Williams. “All of it is accessible to the public. Madison Park North Beach is the only stretch of shoreline where the public is precluded from accessing the shoreline by a chain link fence. We have heard Madison Park neighbors express their concerns about the fence removal, and will work them on an implementation plan before the fence is removed.”
Parks will convene a community work group comprised of neighbors and key stakeholders to devise an implementation plan for removing the fence. The timeline for removal of the fence is early 2012.
The park was developed in 1945 with a small play area, now just a swing set. The rip rap wall and fence along the shoreline were installed during the original park creation. Seattle Parks has considered removing the fence several times in the past, most recently in 2003. Earlier this year, Parks received a request from a Seattle resident to remove the fence at North Beach and open up the access, both visual and physical, to Lake Washington.
The request is consistent with the objectives of the City’s Shoreline Master Program (SMP). As stated in Seattle Municipal Code § 23.60.002B, “[i]t is the purpose of this chapter to implement the policy and provisions of the Shoreline Management Act and the Shoreline Goals and Policies of the Seattle Comprehensive Plan by regulating development of the shorelines of the City in order to:
1. Protect the ecosystems of the shoreline areas;
2. Encourage water-dependent uses;
3. Provide for maximum public use and enjoyment of the shorelines of the City; and
4. Preserve, enhance and increase views of the water and access to the water.
Removing the fence at North Beach will expand the opportunities available to the surrounding neighborhood to access the Lake Washington shoreline consistent with State and local policies.