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Bell St. Park Meeting

The Bell St. Park meeting was held last evening at the Olympic Sculpture Park. Kudos, hoorah’s, and many thanks to the Belltown Community Council and the Olympic Sculpture Park for hosting the event and providing a forum for community involvement and input.

The overarching topic of the evening was public safety. Citizens don’t feel safe on Bell street and they’re sick and tired of the perception that nothing is being done to resolve the issue. There were also some evaporative vocal concerns about the parking spaces that will be lost once Bell St. turns into a one lane pedestrian friendly boulevard.

Knowing that this project is moving forward, what should be the goal? I believe the primary goal of this project should be to draw a steady stream of people through the Bell Street corridor. Otherwise, I think the neighborhood concerns are valid, this will turn into a fancy runway for dealing crack and pissing your pants.

As a summary of the ideas that have already been collected on this site – the top three are;

  • Increased Cafe Seating – Big sidewalks to encourage new cafe’s which would build infrastructure to keep people happy outdoors even in the rain.
  • Art Walk Areas A rotating mural wall featuring local artists as well as an area that would encourage artists to sell and display their art on the boulevard.
  • Food Cart Hook-Ups – The necessary electrical conduits and parking areas need to be designed into the plan to accomodate Seattle’s favorite food carts.

Some new ideas brought up during the meeting were;

  • Local Plants – include local fauna and (gasp) fungus that would naturally serve to break down fossil fuel emissions. Great idea!
  • Allow Parisian Art Booths – This is another great idea to offer a rotating and seasonal kiosks to artists and craftsmen. The alternating product would keep a constant focus on Bell St.
  • Hanging Flower Baskets – Hey why not, they’re gorgeous and remind me of delicious salads.
  • LIGHTING – Everyone agrees that the lighting needs to be artful, yet serve the purpose of deterring crime.
  • Bike Racks – This was one of my favorite ideas. Lets have local artists design bike racks along the boulevard!
  • Kids Play Areas – This heartwarming idea was submitted by a young mother who would like to see some safe areas set up for her children to play. I agree wholeheartedly with this idea and would love to see something for the families that are living downtown.
  • Performance Space – Incorporate areas where a stage could be set up for special events.

My main concern with the plan thus far is that the boulevard is currently planned to run along the north side of the street. There’s two good reasons for this. 1 – The city planners note that the north side of the street gets the most sun. 2 – There’s a lot of mature trees on the south side of the street that they want to protect. Here’s the big problem though. The SOUTH side of the street includes most of the businesses. Without stimulating economic development on the available south side, this project could be a wasted opportunity. There are a lot of businesses and potential development opportunities if this project was built on the south side. However, there’s very few options for expanded business offerings on the north side.

If you have additional concerns, let off some steam in the comments. I’d love to hear your opinions and will do my best to make sure your voice is heard during the meetings. Please be thinking of ways that this development can enrich the vibrancy of Bell St. How can we ensure that this is a busy area and not just a big sidewalk?


2 Comments on "Bell St. Park Meeting"

  1. Thanks for this great summary Jesse.

    I think your concern about business activity on the South Side is a great one. I’m wondering if they could kind of make it on both sides. What if the Southern half just had an extended sidewalk, for cafe seating, maybe some street vendors/ food carts, and such. A place more for stationary activities and hanging out in front of businesses. The north half then could be more of the walking/jogging side, with art pieces and areas for children to play.

    You know, it would all be solved if they just went ahead and prevented cars from the street altogether (of course still with emergency vehicle access). Why haven’t they presented this option? Or was it discussed and not really liked? It seems like there are enough other routes that it wouldn’t be terrible problematic for traffic.

  2. Josh,

    They sure didn’t talk about the option of shutting down the street to all traffic. The limitation of designing the boulevard for bus access was brought up on multiple occassions. I don’t understand the requirement for running a bus down this street and mentioned that the street would be dangerous for pedestrians if it was a literal one lane straight line runway. The architects seemed excited at the possibility of incorporating some curves, which I think would be great.

    There would be a large percentage of the attendees who would’ve definitely freaked out if a no car option was discussed. I think there’s a potential for it to develop that way once it’s been reduced to one lane though.

    I’m most concerned that the development’s goal will not be to “attract a steady stream of people through Bell st”. If there ARE amenities and infrastructure that draw people into using the street, then those some infrastructure changes can be expanded upon in the future.

    I’d love to chat some more about this project. What do you say we get a team of people that are interested in the project together at Bedlam coffee sometime?

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