One-hundred-nine-year-old Schmitz Park is on track to be expanded by a parcel at its southeast corner
information from Southwest Seattle Historical Society
After some years in planning Schmitz Preserve Park, one of the small to midsize parks in the City of Seattle at 53.1 acres is due to expand once more. By contrast Lincoln Park is 135 acres, Discovery Park is 534 acres. The parcel adds 5000 square feet.
The plan, which has secured approval by the Seattle Mayor’s office, is headed for consideration by a Seattle City Council committee on Tuesday morning, Dec. 12.
Working on this plan for nearly three years is a group calling itself Friends of the Historic Schmitz Park Addition, including former Seattle City Council member Tom Rasmussen, Schmitz family spokesperson Vicki Schmitz and the Southwest Seattle Historical Society.
The Southwest Seattle Historical Society is pleased to congratulate and support this recent announcement, which would involve legislation for the Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation to acquire the property of West Seattle resident Bruce Stotler, located at the southeast corner of historic Schmitz Park in West Seattle (see map).
This issue will be voted on in Seattle City Council committee on Tuesday, December 12, 2017 during the Civil Rights; Utilities, Economic Development and Arts committee hearing chaired by Lisa Herbold which begins at 9:30 am and is open for public comment. If passed in committee the legislation will go to full Council in early January, 2018.
Schmitz Preserve was donated to the city in pieces between 1908 and 1912. The most generous chunk came from a German immigrant/pioneer/banker/realtor named Ferdinand Schmitz, who served on the park commission during those years. It was Schmitz's idea, as he saw how rapidly the great forest was disappearing, to preserve part of it in its natural state.
The process began in 2015 when property owner Bruce Stotler reached out to former Seattle City Council member Tom Rasmussen about donating or selling (below cost) his property located abutting the park. Council Member Rasmussen lead Parks Superintendent Jesús Aguirre and others on tours of the Stotler property. Rasmussen and property owner Stotler later met with Council Member Lisa Herbold in 2016, presenting goals to:
• Expand Schmitz Preserve Park by adding Bruce Stotler’s property to the park
• Allowing Stotler to live on the property through a life-estate agreement with the Parks Department
• Potential increase future accessibility to the Park at it’s southeast corner, potentially improving ADA access
• Establishing this agreement at a time that the property owner was willing to do so with a large donation component
Fast forward to today, former Council Member Rasmussen expresses his own appreciation to Mr. Stotler, Council Member Herbold, and others for championing this issue and bringing it to the fore. “I believe this is an important step toward the preservation of our parks, and Mr. Stotler is setting a remarkable example of how an individual resident can continue in the tradition of the Schmitz family’s original gift of the park land to the City of Seattle.”
Representing the Schmitz family, Vicki Schmitz-Block expressed her sentiments about the news saying, “The Schmitz Family is grateful to Mr. Stotler for his vision of adding his property to Schmitz Park, the Seattle Parks Department for agreeing to purchase this piece of land, and Mayor Jenny Durkan for shepherding the project forward. We are hopeful that this action will generate renewed interest and involvement by the community to insure the future of this forest-like park.”
Jeff McCord, Executive Director at Southwest Seattle Historical Society added, “We hope to continue to provide outreach, support and advocacy for projects like this one which help to enhance our wonderful West Seattle character and environment. The prospect of having better public access to a great asset like Schmitz Park, as well as helping to expand and preserve the park for all to enjoy, is great news for our community.”