Park Natural Areas Must be Preserved!

Public comment period has been extended to November 14, 2018

Seattle Parks and Recreation has just released revised plans for a pilot project that will guide future policy regarding “new uses” in park greenspaces. This pilot will install a mountain bike park in Cheasty Greenspace on Beacon Hill, but the resulting policy will affect all our park natural areas, and could open the door for allowing any number of new uses in all of them.

This is a bad idea, so please send in your comment to the Parks Department today.

We think park forests should be shared by all people, not all user-groups.  They should not be carved up like a pie and offered, piece by piece, to specialized-user groups. They should be preserved for passive-use, accessible to everyone and to wildlife, too. With Seattle’s growth, that is going to be more important than ever.

Send comments opposing Cheasty Bike Park today. Comments close on Wednesday, November 14th. Send to Parks staff: David Graves – David.graves@seattle.gov, Jon Jainga – jon.jainga@seattle.gov, and Superintendent Williams – christopher.williams@seattle.gov, You can also write to the Board of Park Commissioners – Rachel.Acosta@seattle.gov, Seattle City Council – council@seattle.gov, and Mayor Durkan.

Tell Parks that the pilot project at Cheasty Greenspace is not equitable, sustainable, or wise, and should not proceed. Tell them to keep Cheasty and all greenspaces passive-use only.

Here’s more background:

Not Equitable

In 2015, Parks promoted Cheasty Bike Park claiming it would make the forest accessible, safe, and welcoming for all people. Now, with only a two-week public comment period, they’ve quietly released a radically different approach. Their newest version welcomes only bikers at the expense of everyone else.

The latest design has eliminated accessible walking trails (those suitable for less-abled people) and has eliminated the pedestrian-only trails. Their newest design makes pedestrians walk on twisting 4-foot gravel paths shared by bikes. This is unsafe and will make the park virtually inaccessible to older people, young children, less-abled people, or anyone who just wants to experience nature without having to be constantly vigilant for speeding bikes.

Parks claims that 4-foot shared trails are appropriate because they are used in “some parks” in several places like Tacoma or the Eastside. That’s ridiculous. The few parks they cite are roughly ten times bigger than Cheasty and have little in common with Seattle parks.

The maps below illustrate the broken promise to make this park pedestrian-friendly.

 

Not Sustainable

Seattle needs a policy to preserve greenspaces for passive-use only. Too many uses in a forest ruins the nature experience for people and the habitat for wildlife. If one specialized-user group is allowed to have part of a natural area for their own use, other groups will want access too. There is already significant pressure by off-leash dog groups, private zipline companies, and others.

Unwise

Cheasty Bike Park has been extremely divisive for the community. At first it was supported by some neighborhood groups who were swayed by Parks’ promise it would make the forest safe and welcoming for all people, but when more people found out about the plan, it was vigorously opposed city-wide. People were alarmed that Parks had neglected to do the proper environmental impact studies, so some of them organized, hired lawyers and wetland and wildlife experts (at their own expense) and appealed to the city’s Hearing Examiner. And they won their case.  (The statement from Friends of Cheasty is here.)

But in spite of all that, the project continues. When Parks was not allowed to route their bike trails through wetlands, they simply got rid of the accessible pedestrian trails and rerouted the bike trails. Now the park will be virtually unusable for most people.

Conclusion

The obvious conclusion here is what we’ve been claiming all along. Seattle’s few remaining park forests are too small to be carved up for specialized-uses. Mountain biking requires space, and Seattle simply does not have it. The same goes for off-leash dogs in Seattle forests, ziplines in Seattle forests…and all the rest.

Keep our park greenspaces passive-use!

Parks Department sign at Cheasty, October, 2018

Resources

Here is the official project website from Parks.

From our post The Skunk on Table, published three and a half years ago, here are letters from city-wide organizations speaking about the importance of keeping our park natural areas available to all:

 

 

7 thoughts on “Park Natural Areas Must be Preserved!

  1. Howdy,
    The proposed Cheasty bike trail would cause tree root damage by excavation of soil. This steep slope has a feeder root zone that is twice the diameter of the dripline of the trees, as shown in the diagram at SMC 25.11.050. The proposed plan does not recognize that all of the proximate vegetation must be removed to accomplish the grade changes. Preservation of the vegetation is the only solution for the problem of erosion. The qualities of the wetland areas would be reduced to prevent ecologic function. Offsite effects from the project site drying out in some parts, and concentrating water in other parts, will negatively affect the housing development downhill, and the uphill road, utility yard, and golf course.

  2. This post seems to miss some key facts and context about the project. While the first phase of the plan (the pilot) is to build the mountain bike trails (which will not be shared with pedestrians, as far as I know), the overall revised plan calls for both mountain bike and pedestrian trails. The goal is to test the bike trail first then allow further comment before moving on to building the pedestrian trails.

    Here is a link to the overall map of proposed trails on the revised project:

    http://www.seattle.gov/Documents/Departments/ParksAndRecreation/Projects/Cheasty/CheastyTrails-final.pdf

    1. Just to clarify further. As I understand it, it has been clearly stated by parks that all bicycle trails will be accessible to pedestrians for walking, but the bicycles have the right of way. Whereas on mixed use and pedestrian trails the pedestrian has the right of way. So on this first phase, bikes will have the right of way. But that won’t be the case on the pedestrian trails. Presumably, the second phase trails will also meet accessibility standards as well. But I don’t know that for sure.

      The point is that this plan has been updated to address the concerns of the hearing examiner, but the overall concept of the plan has not changed too much imho. The ultimate goal to is allow both pedestrians and mountain bikers to utilize Cheasty and co-exist with each other.

      1. No, we are not missing anything about this project! The information in our post is accurate.

        And as far as getting people to coexist with one another, we are wholeheartedly in favor of that! The best way to share a small urban Greenspace is by following a policy of Passive Use, so everyone can enjoy nature on equal footing and no one will be excluded. We feel that Seattle’s remnant Urban Wild should be shared with ALL PEOPLE, not ALL USES. Mountain biking is great, but it belongs in larger spaces…like in the mountains.

    2. No, we are not missing anything about this project. The information in our post is accurate. We were at the recent meeting and have followed this issue carefully for the last several years. There is no Phase 2, unless it is Top Secret and has not been released to the public. That would be pretty weird, wouldn’t it? At the end of our post, there is a link to the Parks Department’s project website, so people can see for themselves.

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