Victory Heights Park Playground Renovation Breaks Ground

At long last, the playground renovation project at Victory Heights Park (originally scheduled to be completed by the end of 2016), broke ground last week. Fencing went up, the old equipment was removed, and the concrete broken up. Next month, the Victory Heights Community Council meeting on June 20th will hear from Katie Bang of Seattle Parks about the project.

Stay tuned to the Victory Heights Blog to read further updates on the park renovation.

 

Park Renovation Will Include Loop Path

The loop path will go around the field. The paved court in the foreground will be replaced as part of the renovation.

The renovation of Victory Heights Park which is scheduled to begin this summer will include the often-requested loop path around the perimeter of the park. Katie Bang, the Capital Projects Coordinator for the Seattle Parks Department, said in an email, “We were able to accept the additional drainage and loop path which also wasn’t part of the original scope but was expressed as highly desired items by the community.” It was hoped that the fence along 19th Avenue NE could be replaced (you might recall a damaged portion of it took several years to get fixed) but Katie said regarding the fence, “These additional items stretched our dollars as far as they would go for this renovation,” and would not include the fence.

The short loop around the park will be a paved path with drainage. Walking the length of it won’t be quite like going around Green Lake, the small confines of Victory Heights Park will take less than three minutes to circumnavigate.

Keep checking in on the blog to follow the progress of the park renovation, and “Like” our Victory Heights Blog Facebook page.

Volunteers’ Hours Will Help Build Emergency HUB in Park

At last night’s meeting of the Victory Heights Community Council, over 20 people agreed to volunteer their time during the next year to help secure funds to build an emergency communications HUB based on Victory Heights Park.

Read the full minutes of last night’s meeting.

Communication HUBs have been set up around the city by volunteers to be used to gather and disperse information in the case of a disaster.  There has been one in Lake City at the Fred Meyer parking lot for several years now (read about a drill held there several years ago).

On September 12th, Vice-President of the community council Ann Forrest is going to apply for a matching grant from the city. To match the amount requested, community members must pledge to volunteer a certain number of hours (calculated at $20 per hour worked) over the next year (starting on the 12th). So if 10 people each pledged to work 5 hours, that would be 50 hours or $1000 we could receive in matching funds. The cost to set up the HUB will be between $1,000 and $3,000 depending on how much equipment and supplies would be purchased. It would be stored in a locked box in the park, pending approval of Seattle Parks.

In case of emergency, always check your home and family are safe first.  Then check the neighbors.  Then find out how the community is doing.  That is what the HUB is for, especially when conventional communications might not work in an emergency. The HUB would be fitted with ham radios to keep in touch with Seattle officials and other HUBs in the network. Drills would be conducted periodically to help train volunteers and establish procedures to better cope with likely events (earthquakes, massive power outage, volcanos) that likely would mean first-responders would not be able to reach us for hours or possibly days due to infrastructure damage and other priorities.  Keeping people informed about the situation and connecting up resources with needs is the primary function of a HUB.

If you would like to know more, or to volunteer to help put in hours, please write us and we will let the organizers know.

The next meeting of the Victory Height Community Council is Tuesday, September 20th in the co-op preschool building in Victory Heights Park starting at 7 PM. We’ll be electing a new president and several board seats are now open.  Come be a part of our great community!

Park Renovation Pushed Out To 2017

A new schedule for the playground renovation project in Victory Heights Park has construction beginning in the fourth quarter of 2016 and continuing through the first half of 2017.

Read the complete minutes from this month’s community council meeting.

Speaking at Tuesday’s meeting of the Victory Heights Community Council, Frank Robinson and Katie Bang from Seattle Parks talked about the input they had received from the community and the various design choices that are being considered for the playground equipment. But a construction timeline that was distributed revealed that rather than the work being done this summer (as originally announced back in December), it was being pushed back to later in the year and into 2017. This was due to the high demand for construction projects in the Seattle area currently.

The $893,000 budget will include new playground equipment and benches, and separate play areas for ages 2-5 and 5-12. Even choosing colors presents a number of options: In Seattle things have a tendency to go with the “nature” look – an Eddie Bauer color scheme – but there were also a fair number of people who said let’s go with something more brightly colored. A number of residents would like to see a walking path around the park but the budget may not stretch that far. A preliminary plan will be released in a month or so and feedback taken before the final design review is made and the project put out to bid.

The next meeting of the community council will be on March 15, at 7 PM at the preschool.

$893,000 Park Renovation Announced

Park RenovThe Seattle Parks Department has announced a $893,000 renovation project of the playground equipment in Victory Heights Park.

Read the entire minutes from last night’s Community Council Meeting.

The project, which is currently in the design phase, will replace the current 20-year-old playground equipment, make the entire area ADA compliant, and via the Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design program (sometimes called CPTED), increase sight lines and removal of “hidden” areas. As part of the design, the Parks Department wants community input. The first way you can do that is by answering the survey on the project website. The second way is by attending the December 15th Community Council meeting, where the project designer will be there to make a presentation and listen to feedback.

Construction is scheduled for the second half of 2016. About half of the cost is earmarked for accessibility upgrades that will make the park Americans With Disabilities Act compliant. The project does not include any work on the building which currently houses the co-op preschool.  Earlier this year, the Parks Department had said Victory Heights was near the bottom of a 300-item list of “Things To Do” but apparently a combination of the aging equipment, recent criminal activity, citizen requests, and probably dumb luck (the right project size for what was left in this year’s “must spend” account) contributed to the project suddenly becoming viable and a done deal.

What To Do About Drug Use In The Park?

Last night’s meeting of the Victory Heights Community Council focused on an increase in drug dealing and using in and around Victory Heights Park.

Read the complete minutes of the September meeting.

Neighbors have discovered used needles near the co-op preschool building in the park, and suspicious characters loitering in the park at night, and parked along 19th Avenue NE. Calls to the police seem to be responded to too late or not at all. And the city isn’t keen on signs, surveillance cameras or more lights in the park. What can concerned residents do? Well for starters, you should always call 911 when you see something suspicious. The city tracks crime statistics and if we start calling attention to this problem, this will get action in the long run even if the police don’t show up every time you call. There will also be an attempt to get the residents across the park along 19th Avenue to get organized and perhaps put up yard signs of their own saying the neighborhood is watching. If every yard had a sign, that would send a clear message. Crime happens when criminals think nobody cares. And finally, once district elections are over for city council, we will have a representative who we can go to (hopefully backed up with statistics–keep calling 911) and get them to grease the wheels of city government to make sure the park does not fall into ruin and neglect. Together we can make a difference!

The next meeting of the community council will be Tuesday, October 20th. Make a date to attend if you’d like to be part of the solution.

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Parks Dept Says They’ll Need SDOT Help To Fix Fence

parkfenceThe stretch of broken fence along the 19th Avenue NE side of Victory Heights Park will finally get some attention this summer via an alliance by two city departments. At last night’s meeting of the Victory Heights Community Council, newly elected President Victor Hernandez said he had spoken with Chris Johnson at Seattle Parks & Recreation. Johnson said he was aware of the issue of the fence (which has been that way since last November) but that Parks alone couldn’t “find time or budget” in order to get it fixed anytime before this autumn. But, teaming up with the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) to do the work, the hope is to have something by July.

Read the complete minutes of the April Community Council meeting.

Special bonus: Minutes of last month’s meeting.

Other highlights from last night’s meeting include a reminder of Saturday’s May Day basket making party (maybe next year if there’s interest we can put up a May Pole in the park as a fun family event), an April 29th “Community Conversation” in Lake City about the future of urban design there (see http://lakecityfuturefirst.org/ for details), and a District 5 city council candidates forum at Jane Addams school on May 18th.

Don’t forget the Lake City Farmer’s Market starts up again on June 11th. Building on last year’s success, it will feature revolving food trucks, wine tastings, beer, and musicians. And lots of fresh veggies too!

The next meeting of the Community Council will be Tuesday, May 19th, when the speaker will be Art Brochet, SDOT’s communications representative who will provide the latest updates on the Northgate Pedestrian and Bicycle Project. We hope to see you there!

Victory Heights Park Playground Needs Your Support

Robin from the Victory Heights Co-op Preschool wants us to know:

In February, Victory Heights Cooperative Preschool applied for a City of Seattle neighborhood grant for park and playground improvements at Victory Heights. Great news: the City has invited us to make a presentation at the North District Community Council meeting on April 1st – no foolin’! 🙂
To help show your support, please take two minutes of your time to answer a 5-question survey by March 31, 2015. Link to the survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/MGGM5DT

 

 

Victory Heights Co-operative Preschool Enters 4th Decade

The former Community Club/voting site building in Victory Heights Park has been used as one of North Seattle Community College’s Co-operative Preschools for at least 40 years now. (Nobody is quite sure exactly when it started however, no documentation exists prior to 1982 but Program Coordinator Val Donato says, “I know there was a group there prior to me starting in 1974.”) Though the Community College provides teachers and materials, it is the parents who really run the show and are expected to put in time during classes each day. These parents (one per family) rotate through assigned tasks including playground supervision or providing the daily snacks, plus hold a permanent position throughout the school year such as safety officer, or parent coordinator.

There are four classes available depending on the age of the child: toddlers, Pre-3s, 3-4s, and 4-5s.  The older children attend more days a week than toddlers. You don’t have to live in Victory Heights to belong to the Co-op, but registration for newcomers must be done through the Community College (read their webpage for full details on applying). As children age, they automatically can graduate to the next older class. Legacies are available for younger siblings of former students.

In addition to activities, playground time, and readings, the children learn to be with other groups of children on a routine basis, and often will see the same people as they move on to elementary school.

While the Seattle Parks Department maintains the exterior building, the grounds, and playground equipment, the parents refurbish and maintain the interior of the building. They would like to have the jungle gym replaced but Parks says Victory Heights is not on the list. Instead, parents are hoping a fundraising effort might be able to pay for one if possible.

In addition to tuition fees ($70-$180, depending on how many days a week their child’s class meets), parents technically are registered as students at North Seattle, pay a small tuition each quarter and receive credits.

Often, parents stay at the Co-operative and become teachers long after their children have moved on. Karen Truelove (her “house” is now a play area–see photo at top) was a teacher for many decades  (with a long waiting list until she retired). Teacher Marianne has also been at Victory Heights for many years and encourages daily playtime outside for the children rain or shine. (By the way, the orange barriers set up when the kids are outside are merely to keep them IN, not the public out. You are free to walk through the park or use the equipment with your kids even when the preschoolers are playing, the Co-op can’t close park.)

Victory Heights is one of over 40 Co-operative Preschools in 13 sites operated by North Seattle Community College, but each one is an autonomous  501(c)3 non-profit organization. The first such Co-op is believed to have been started in the University District after World War II, but Victory Heights is one of the oldest in the area.

According to city records, Victory Heights Park was originally named by the Victory Heights Community Club. The district name originated during WWI. They bought the property and provided volunteer leadership after its development by the W.P.A. But they were unable to pay taxes and it was bought by the city in 1954 (see a pdf document from the city’s Sherwood Historic Files).

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