HERBOLD: Pickleball in Lincoln Park
Information from District 1 City Councilmember Lisa Herbold
This week, I counted receiving over 1,300 emails about the installation of pickleball in Lincoln Park. On Friday, October 27, I sent the following letter to Superintendent Diaz, ensuring your concerns are being heard by Seattle Parks and Recreation. Be sure to stay tuned to subsequent newsletters for updates as this conversation progresses.
Dear Superintendent Diaz,
I am writing today about the installation of the pickleball court at Lincoln Court. I have shared with hundreds of constituents the Seattle Parks and Recreation position that impacts to wildlife will not increase and may be reduced as relates to emissions. I have told my constituents, as you have:
The…”site has been used as a storage facility for the maintenance crews that service all West Seattle's parks. Meaning that several times a day, vehicles and large trucks are pulling into this site to load and unload equipment and materials. When this site becomes a pickleball court, SPR will consolidate our maintenance facilities into one location in a different part of Lincoln Park.
In our view, any disturbance to wildlife the pickleball court will bring will be equivalent, and potentially lessened as we are removing vehicle emissions from this location.”
Similarly, the Associated Recreational Council (ARC) wrote:
Lincoln Park was considered as a potential location for dedicated courts through work with a consultant and community engagement in SPR’s 2020-2021 Outdoor Pickleball Plan. The plan offsets an additional active use to Lincoln Park by relocating the SPR grounds storage facility to the crew headquarter location. This will remove trucks, along with their emissions and traffic, driving in and out of this actively used part of the park.
The public response I have received has been overwhelming. I have received about 1,300 emails strenuously objecting to this characterization of this installation as not having wildlife impacts.
I have also received several requests for “an official SPR plan or study.” Seattle Parks and Recreation, similarly to the ARC, has referred to this document,saying: “Through work with a consultant and community engagement, Lincoln Park was considered as a potential location for dedicated courts in SPR’s 2020-2021 Outdoor Pickleball Plan.” Yet, my quick perusal of the documents linked within the above link suggests that Lincoln Park as a location was first discussed at the May 25, 2022 open house. It appears that this was a citywide meeting. Lincoln Park appears to have been identified in a “break out session. I would like to know how many people were in attendance in the Southwest breakout session. Is there a specific “Lincoln Plan” that informed the discussion in the breakout session? Or was Lincoln Park identified in more of a “spit-balling” exercise? No one denies that Lincoln Park was put on a list, but no one seems to understand how it got on the list.
I understand the analysis and position that no SEPA analysis is needed. But meeting with community members who are pleading to be heard is the least we can do. I have joined Bird Connect on birding tours in Lincoln Park. I appreciate how vulnerable wildlife is there. Birds Connect Seattle reports that:
“More than 160 species of birds have been reported at Lincoln Park. That’s approximately 64% of all bird species that occur in Seattle from a park that represents just 0.25% of our land area.”
A constituent also reports that “ sustained, repetitive noise will disrupt this well-established ecosystem function by marginalizing wildlife and pushing them further out to areas that don't have as much available prey, as well as pushing prey species out.” Why is it that we do not believe that this will occur?
I have also read the concern the plan in in contravention to the Public Involvement Policy for Parks Planning Processes and for Proposals to Acquire Property, Initiate Funded Capital Projects, or Make Changes to a Park or Facility. Can you comment whether you believe that to be the case? Some may remember that this policy was updated in 2022 on the request of former City Councilmember Nick Licata in response to a public outcry related to another Praks project, the Queen Anne Bowl.
Please consider hosting a meeting to hear the concerns. If you do, I will join you. I look forward to your response, as well as answers to these questions:
- How many people were in attendance in the Southwest breakout session?
- Is there a specific “Lincoln Plan” that informed the discussion in the breakout session?
- Why is it that we do not believe that sustained, repetitive work will not impact wildlife (are there studies)?
- Is DPR proceeding in a way that is consistent with the Parks Involvement Policy linked above?
- Will DPD meet with the public to discuss the plan?