Solutions for Clark Park gazebo discussed
Letting dogs visit Silver Lake beach, popular with kids, gets reconsidered
EVERETT — Neighbors would like to see the fenced-off, forlorn gazebo at Clark Park revitalized, but not if that risks it becoming a hangout for vandals and drug abusers again. That’s what got it barricaded in the first place.
Two solutions held consensus at the city’s parks board meeting last week: Relocate the gazebo, or restrict access.
The idea behind moving the gazebo is to put it in a more visible spot in the park.
The other is to control access to the gazebo using a shutters system where it’s opened by demand. It isn’t known yet how much a system like this would cost to install.
City parks assistant director Bob Leonard indicated both ideas will move forward for more consideration.
The conversation next goes before the city’s historical commission at its July 23 meeting. The gazebo dates to 1921, but was refurbished in 1994 and 1998.
Moving the gazebo would need to consider placing it without affecting long-term tree plans, city tree commission member Laura McMurray said.
Park board member Tom Norcott said the gazebo shouldn’t be restricted from public use, and the neighborhood could adopt the park as its own responsibility.
A park board member suggested having a docent stationed at the park. An active park can persuade criminals to go somewhere else. There aren’t enough park rangers to do constant monitoring.
Clark Park, in the 2400 block of Lombard Avenue, is distinctly the city’s first municipal park. The gazebo sits at the center of the park; it was erected in 1921. To its rear today is a wall for the tennis courts that have taken up the park’s western half since the 1980s.
The court wall along the back of the gazebo gave a hiding spot for unwanted activities. The permanent fence went up in fall 2009.
In 2012, the city tried fostering a community park monitoring program that didn’t get far.
Problems at the park stayed a focal point for grassroots groups that did “take back the park” actions, one of which had motorcyclists confronting homeless people for being in the park.
Either way, it’s pretty clear neighbors don’t like looking at the fence, Leonard said he heard at a recent Bayside Neighborhood meeting discussing the gazebo.
Two other, starker options are to do nothing with the fence or tearing down either the fence or the historic gazebo itself. Neither idea currently has traction.
Silver Lake dogs discussion
Dogs used to be prohibited at Thornton A. Sullivan Park because the city interpreted there would be a health code conflict because the park has a public beach.
The policy changed last fall after the city learned it’s no problem. As long as they’re on a leash, dogs can now visit the park’s swimming beach and playground.
Letting in dogs, though, is raising a question on compatibility with kids. Resident Ben Zarlingo, for one, is concerned a child might get bit. He likes dogs, but noted adults have been bit in parks.
“I’m just trying to restore a practical balance that used to exist between dogs and people (mostly little kids),” Zarlingo wrote in an email.
Besides, people can take their dogs nearby to Hauge Homestead Park or Green Lantern Park on the lake.
At the Silver Lake Neighborhood meeting in May, three people didn’t want dogs visiting Thornton A. Sullivan Park and one said it was okay, according to parks assistant director Kimberly Shelton.
The parks department isn’t set to decide on anything right now, but wanted the parks board to weigh in at its meeting last week.
Park board member Pamela Gerla said the beachfront popular with kids presents a special circumstance. Other parks board members wavered on that point.
Howarth Park’s north end shorefront features an off-leash dog area, Gerla noted.
The tides at Howarth Park help wash away dog droppings, but the lake wouldn’t, Shelton said. “The contamination concern is valid.”
The city’s guidelines for dogs in parks are that the owners are responsible for keeping their pet under control, and responsible for any injuries caused by their dog.
Parks administrators said the city’s never been sued over a dog bite at a park.
The city has three parks with off-leash areas: Howarth, Loganberry Lane and Lowell.
Neighbors seek formal
A handful of neighbors would like the city to turn an informal green space in Rucker Hill into a park. The site is near Sharon Crest Drive and 35th Street, and is owned by city utilities as a reservoir.
Parks director Lori Cummings said last week that her department will approach the city’s administrators on the request. Public works was already consulted.
Neighbors treat the green space as a relaxation site for picnics and playtime. They take care of it: someone mows it, and someone else refills a box of doggie bags.
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