Nickels proposes turning Bell Street into “park-like boulevard”
In Belltown, the idea of a park has meant the concrete former drug area on Third Avenue for dogs.
However, Mayor Greg Nickels unveiled a proposal Friday to transform four blocks of Bell Street, from First to Fifth avenues, into a “park boulevard.”
The idea would mean losing a lane of traffic and parking. Sidewalks on the north side of Bell would be widened to 30 feet. The city would add more lighting, space for children’s play areas and natural landscaping and swales to create what a Nickels’ news release called “a parklike corridor through the heart of Belltown.”
Sidewalks on the north side will be widened to nearly 30 feet with landscaping, lighting and space for children’s play areas and other recreational activities. Natural landscaping and swales – vegetation in the right of way that collects and cleans rainwater – will be added.
Nickels will ask the City Council next week to spend $2.5 million of the 2008 voter-approved Parks and Green Spaces Levy for the project. To be completed in 2010, the project would create 17,000 square feet of new green space.
“In urban areas, land is scarce, and it’s hard to create new green places. This project makes the best use of what’s already there to build a wonderful new park to serve Belltown,” Nickels said in the release. “The Bell Street park boulevard will improve the quality of life for the neighborhood, improve public safety and become a great asset to the city.”
The project was first proposed in the 1998 Belltown Neighborhood Plan and has been endorsed by a range of community organizations. The city of Seattle Comprehensive Plan calls for “green streets” to meet open-space needs in urban neighborhoods.
“Belltown is Seattle’s densest neighborhood, and it doesn’t have enough parks. This new park boulevard will provide much needed green space and a great community gathering place,” John Pehrson, former chairman of the Belltown Housing and Land Use Committee, said in the release. “Belltown has been asking for this for years, and we’re excited that Seattle Parks, City Light and the Department of Transportation are working together to make it happen.”
Well-lit sidewalks and open sightlines will discourage anti-social behavior. Seattle Parks and Recreation’s park rangers and West Precinct police officers will be able to issue park exclusions and conduct emphasis patrols.
The city will host an open house Thursday from 4 to 7 p.m. on the sidewalk at the northeast corner of Bell Street and Second Avenue.
Details of the design will be developed in collaboration with neighbors and property owners this fall.