City will remove Madison Park North Beach fence early next year

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.

20 thoughts on “City will remove Madison Park North Beach fence early next year

  1. Not only will I visit this park more, I will rent a 60′ tractor trailer to consume as much parking as possible each time I do so.

  2. Sadly the removeal of this fence, which prevented nothing but children falling down the rocks in to the water on a small stretch, will result in drownings. Wait and see.

  3. That’s a good argument to take the rocks out too, and make it a swimming beach! Truck in a few hundred yards of sand and it’s good to go.

  4. Building a sand beach there would be very expensive. The waves from 520 bridge mixing with wind from South are lethal and would wash sand away I think. The fence was good for kids playing ball.

  5. there are other places to play ball. There is not so much waterfront. This was a great decision.

  6. I am glad that the City is following the rules that they mandated for shoreline and park use and to not caving into the wishes of self-serving neighbors that were flying the banner of “kids safety” to protect their individual use of the park. So often we have seen in the past, the rights of many are sacrificed because of the rants of a few. More people will be allowed to enjoy this park for its intended purpose and their will be a risk in using the park, but it may be no greater than the risk of getting in a car and traveling somewhere.

  7. This is a public park and policy dictates that the fence be removed. There are other public parks with rocks fronting the beach in and around Seattle.

  8. How will more people be able to use the park by removing the fence that seperates the furthest most end of the park from the rocky slope to the water? Exactly the same number of people will be able to use the park as before. Unless you’re talking about seamonsters with special feet scaling the rocks from the surf to come in to the park from the water side.

  9. Ha ha! We win – you loose. Lousy fence people. We are apposed to random fencing. Shall hordes be set upon your park!

  10. Grumbo, there was never a fence seperating the park from the public. Anyone driving up or walking on the sidewalk could access the park. The only thing the small fence at the end did was keep balls and children from falling down the rocks in to the water. Go visit it. Jesus.

  11. You chicken heads are way uptight. Join the fight against fences. Free your mind dude. Don’t nuke our imagination man.

  12. @ good grief. You are right. I think most people posting are somehow under impression that the fence is separating the park form the street and limiting access. The need to go visit it. Removing the fence doesn’t change much except make the park less usable for playing. To make it a “beach” would require all the blackberries to be removed and all the rockery bulkhead etc etc. Mad park beach is just a few blocks away anyway. If there is extra money available for beach work I would rather see Madrona beach fixed up and expanded.

  13. It would be very easy to design and build a cobble beach for the site. Plenty of Dept. of Neighborhood grant dollars to do it. What should we name it? And let make sure EVERYONE in the adjacent CD knows about it.
    (Ohhh Gawd, there goes the neighborhood, why can’t we be like the Lauralhurst beach club!)