Bad time for park planning? It would seem so. But maybe not.
Starting today, faced with shrinking revenues, the Seattle City Council will be considering:
Delaying opening of public beaches.
Cleaning city streets less often.
Delaying replacement of city vehicles.
Not replacing 53 cops leaving the department.
Very well, times are tough. The recession limps along. Tax revenues are down. So are some spirits. But 50 years from now all of that will have been long forgotten. The Great Seattle Park will not be . . .
Unless we fail to build it.
Last week I urged readers to send me their thoughts on how the big park I suggested between downtown Seattle and Lake Union could be built, and - especially - what we might call it. It is hard to sell an idea, especially an expensive idea, unless you can affix an imagination-catching label to it. Several dozen of you responded.
I promised I would reciprocate with wine and cheese in exchange for the best idea. The wine is bought; the cheese is aging.
"Here's my suggestion," wrote Jerrine Peterson Strom. "Chief Sealth Grounds; and call it The Grounds."
We already have a lot of Chief Sealth namesakes around here, Jerrine, and The Grounds has some appeal, although it does suggest an empty Starbucks coffee pot.
At least a dozen of you came up with variations on "Emerald." Emerald Green, Emerald City Green or just plain Emerald were suggested. The last came from Mary Cutler, a self-described
lacto-ovo-vegetarian, who declined to drink the wine in case she won.
When Seattle architect Fred Bassetti and I first began discussing the possibility of major urban park for Seattle, he asked me if I had ever heard of The Bogue Plan.
"No," I said.
Virgil Bogue was a world-class urban engineer and city planner, Bassetti said, who drew up a comprehensive plan for redesigning much of downtown Seattle shortly after the turn of the century. His "Plan of Seattle" was submitted in 1911 (Times reporter Ross Anderson is preparing an extensive discussion of Bogue's vision in a future Pacific magazine cover story).
"What Bogue had in mind," Bassetti recalled, "was a major civic plaza (city hall, courthouse, municipal buildings, etc.) centered at Third Avenue and Blanchard Street."
Bogue also envisioned a grand boulevard running from the Civic Center toward Lake Union along what is now Dexter Avenue.
"I don't want any major civic buildings," I told Fred. "I want meadows and cedar groves and playgrounds and open spaces for people, not marbled rooms for bureaucrats."
R.L. of South Seattle agreed: "Keep it simple like the simple souls we are," she wrote. "How about Our Park. People could campaign and donate to Our Park!"
"How about Evergreen Acres?" Dawn Patterson said.
"How about The Evergreen? It's more than a name. It's a vision and a commitment," Judith Barnes wrote.
"The Cascades would be obvious, easy to pronounce and descriptive," Alan Lande wrote.
Jeffrey R. Clark didn't have a name, just a vital question: ". . .the possibilities for getting local public and corporate officials to support the idea as well as community groups from the surrounding area."
Jillian K. Milestone liked: "The Village Green, Town Square, The Meadows, City Commons or The Chase."
The last might have appeal for muggers, however.
Linda Ellsworth suggested: "The Heart of Seattle. We could call it The Heart for short."
Marjorie Westman began: "What a superb sparkplug you are!" And offered: "The Great Seattle Park."
John Ohannesian: "It will be a miracle if it happens. Therefore I propose that you call it Miracle Park."
"The Concourse," Jeff R. Skocelas wrote.
Dr. Richard A. Baxter offered Cascade Canal or Cascade Park, and: "If in fact this park ever comes to pass, it could well be called Hinterland."
"I thought of Bikes Get Out of The Park Park," Diane Steen wrote, "but it wouldn't have a prayer."
Susan Packard: "Seattle to me is a haven of real people with real problems and real solutions, a beautiful green place with water and mountains, too. Seattle should be safety, tolerance, friendship. Can we call it Sanctuary Park?"
John Robert Hogg of Queen Anne offered:
"Webster defines promenade as `a leisurely walk or ride especially in a public place for pleasure; a place for strolling . . .' "
Also, the name clearly lends itself to a more casual nickname of the sort that relaxed and friendly Northwesterners can easily relate to: The Prom.
"Let's picnic at The Prom. We are all going to The Prom (certainly an opportunity to cleanse possibly averse high-school memories!). I'll meet you at The Prom."
I liked that. The Prom. At least for the time being. John Robert Hogg gets the first round of wine and cheese.
My thanks to all of you for writing. In a few weeks, after the budget scrap simmers down and City Hall looks out with a view toward what the 21st century will be like in Seattle instead of preoccupations with the Recession of '91, we will renew the dialogue.
And if pending reductions of force do unwisely affect the Seattle Police Department, I suggest we mollify them by naming the Great Seattle Park after our men and women in blue.
John Hinterberger's column appears Wednesdays in the Scene section of the Times and his restaurant and food columns appear in Sunday's Pacific magazine and Friday's Tempo.