On the morning of January 11, despite the weather and a certain upcoming playoff game, Tom Graff was able to bring together citizens from all around Seattle to help make one Belltown park a more welcoming place.
Bell Street Park has been in the works since the City Council approved funding and plans in June, 2009 but now that it is nearly completed, Graff felt that the park needed some color.
That’s the idea behind his bulb planting parties. Graff has worked in Belltown since 1988 as the president and manager of the commercial office of Ewing and Clark [what type of office is this?]. He has been involved in the Seattle community in various ways, including serving as President of the Downtown District Council.
But above all, he describes himself as an “fanatical gardener.” Graff’s idea to plant daffodil bulbs in the Bell Street Park came from the success of his personal planting parties on the grounds of his condo in Edmonds.
Graff says that the planting of the daffodils is a way to “welcome the park” and bring some color to the planters that line the park’s path. The park, which reaches from the 1st street block of Bell Street all the way to 5th Street, is meant to function as a thoroughfare for cars and emergency vehicles, as well as a space for pedestrians.
Belltown has the highest density of residents in Seattle and the city is making efforts to maintain around 9 acres of open space in the neighborhood.
Graff feels that the planting parties are not just a great way to keep the park in good condition, but they are also a way to encourage Belltown residents to get involved with the development of their neighborhood. He said that bulbs are perfect for these gatherings because they are inexpensive and easy to plant.
“People like digging in the dirt. It’s a very easy thing to do and it’s very community oriented and I think this could be an annual event,” says Graff.
Among some of the community members who planted on Saturday was Sally Bagshaw, who has been on the City Council since 2010 and lives in Belltown. Bagshaw thinks that the park will be a great place for people who are active in the community to come together and appreciate their neighborhood.
“We don’t have park space because it’s all built,” says Bagshaw, “and in order to preserve the green over grey…it took this design and I think it’s fabulous.”
So far the park has been well received. The community celebrated the completion of the first block of the park by holding a National Night Out event at the location back in August.
Carolyn Geise has worked in Belltown since 1992. She says that in the past there were not many people out and about in the area, but with the addition of the park, Geis said that the neighborhood has improved.
“People are beginning to get to know it and to own it,” Geis said, praising the the park project between strikes of the shovel, “and they’re working on activating the streets with activities and programs.”