New Playground Spurs Controversy

The idea of turning a patch of green into a small playground has generated a lot of opinions in the North Admiral area of West Seattle. When I first heard of the idea I thought it would be a slam dunk. Everyone likes a playground, right?

Uh, no. Lots of people like playgrounds, usually those who have kids (go figure). But there are plenty of people–more than playground.jpgI would have expected–who don’t like the idea at all. Most of the progress has been reported on the West Seattle Blog over the past few months, and much of the drama has been reported or played out since last Wednesday night when there was a meeting at the local library to let members of the community air their opinions. Opinions ranged from total support to firm opposition, with some bordering on bizarre:

“I’m in full support of this, and anything that can be done to beautify the area, whether it ends up as beautification or a play element.”

“If this goes in I will move.”

“…there are gangs up and down that street…”

The planning is still in the early stages. Right now, as far as I can tell, the planning involves a “play area”, not, as some nearby residents fear, a full scale playground replete with towering slides, swings, and monkey bars. As the project progresses, it may even include improving nearby areas (see WSB for details).

The latest news is that the project, along with another playground-type plan, has been granted $15K in matching funds from Seattle’s Department of Neighborhoods. It helps that Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels and Seattle City Council’s Parks Committee chair Tom Rasmussen are open to the idea, it also probably figures in that they are both West Seattle residents.

I like the idea of a playground, but I sympathize with some nearby residents’ sentiment that there is nothing inherently wrong with a patch of grass, or, to paraphrase, that making a play area is fixing something that isn’t broken.