This article is an extension of an article published in the February 2012 Demogram that we didn't have room for.
There is a lot of good news around this seven-acre natural area just north of the Maple Leaf Community Garden! Thornton Creek Alliance (TCA) applied for and won a grant of $500,000 in 2008 Park Levy Opportunity Fund money. Much of those funds will be used to rechannel the creek in order to control erosion and scouring, but the community is invited to contribute suggestions for additional things you would like to have in the park. To learn more, see what ideas have been suggested and send in your own. The first community meeting was held January 11th, but there is still time to write in.
The Watershed Company has been hired to do the planning. To see their conceptual design go here (1/12/12) or http://www.watershedco.com/blog/.
In mid December a park neighbor came and cut the lower 10’ of branches from 60 trees along two main paths. The work was executed in broad daylight and in a fashion damaging, and in some cases fatal, to the trees. Community views on this are strong and run both ways as the comments under the stories in the Maple Leaf Life blog, first (12/29/12), second (1/12/12), and third (1/26/12), reveal. It is apparent there has been an unfortunate lack of communication between the park neighborhood and the park stewards who have been at work on the park’s restoration for the past 20 years.
In light of this a good portion of the January 11th community meeting, attended by over 50 people, was largely spent discussing neighborhood concerns, working with Seattle Parks and Police, and possible solutions to an ongoing crime wave in the neighborhood just east of the natural area. It was a very productive meeting in that regard, as people on all sides of the issue had a chance to hear and meet each other. Also Community Police Officer Terrie Johnston was there to talk about Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CePTED), and she is now working with The Watershed Company to make sure sight lines will be built into future restoration plans.
The final community meeting is March 14th. At that time we will see the project plans nearly finalized, with our ideas incorporated.
The Jan. 26th TCA meeting was also given over to discussion of neighborhood security adjacent to our natural areas. It is a sad fact that parks and woods can easily be used as places of concealment, and the community as a whole must participate in protecting itself and the park. Community representatives across the city spectrum came and spoke about all aspects of the problem and offered support.
Officer Johnston presented some startling statistics: in January 2011 there were 11 break-ins in all of NE Seattle; while Jan. 1-25, 2012 there have already been 30 in the same area! The reason is unknown.
City Council member Sally Bagshaw made the point that even if the city adds $1 million to hiring more officers, it wouldn’t make much difference at the local level.
Also in attendance and contributing to the discussion were University Greenways representative Chris Saleeba, Green Seattle Partnership’s Joanna Nelson de Flores, Maple Leaf Community Council’s Joshua Newman and Donna Hartmann-Miller, Seattle Parks’ Emily Lofstedt (planner for the Beaver Pond NA project), Mark Mead (Senior Forester), Brock Milliern (Security Officer), North District Neighborhood Coordinator Thomas Whittemore, Tree Ambassadors, Natural Area Stewards, and representatives of the neighborhood around the park.
With such an informed group as this the meeting covered the importance of urban forestry and how to get involved (http://greenseattle.org/), how to keep your home and neighborhood secure (for more info contact email@example.com), the need to establish a greenways plan in north Seattle (here and here), and the beginnings of a partnership with the Beaver Pond Natural Area neighbors.
TCA plans to keep working with the neighborhood around Beaver Pond, as well as support the greenways process, in addition to the Opportunity Fund grant work. We thank everyone who attended these important community meetings. You are welcome to join us! For more information or questions, please contact Ruth Williams (46th LD PCO, Beaver Pond NA Forest Steward), firstname.lastname@example.org. Find TCA on Facebook!