A WORKSHOP TO BUILD A WHARF
by Kirby Lindsay
On Wednesday, October 14, the last of four public workshops will be held to draw out possible uses of a public, community wharf on north Lake Union. This brainstorming session will be held at the Center for Wooden Boats (CWB), at 1010 Valley Street on the southern tip of Lake Union, from 6 – 8 p.m.
The choice of location brings this effort back home, as it has been led, in large part, by CWB. “We’ve been the champions thus far,” Jake Beattie, CWB Deputy Director admitted.
Maritime Mission to Northlake Way
They want to see another facility on the north end of the lake, and build upon their maritime mission. The concept could become reality as an ideal property does exist. On Northlake Way, separated from the west side of Gasworks Park by the Harbor Patrol station, stands a property of 220 feet of shoreline. Currently owned by King County METRO, this site once served as a tank farm and fuel dock.
“King County are in the middle of the process – figuring out if the property is surplus,” Beattie described, “we need it converted into public access.” As he explained, “CWB is more about programs than about acquisition of property.”
“We provide park-like activities,” he went on, “we don’t own any property.” They’ve done major improvements to Waterway 4, on south Lake Union, including the boathouse built by their volunteers. “Someone’s got to buy [the property],” Beattie acknowledged, “and it’s probably not going to be us.”
One possible ‘someone’ could be the City of Seattle, using Seattle Parks Levy funds. Beattie agreed Levy money might be appropriate here, and he thought Parks Department staffers might be exploring the possibility. Parks could purchase the land, and lease it to CWB for use as a community – and public – wharf.
Signals of Support
For now, the Seattle City Council has passed a resolution of support for the idea. This non-binding measure promises nothing but, as Beattie pointed out, it “shows the depth of support we have.” The King County Council has begun work on a similar resolution, expected to be equally non-binding.
CWB has also received grant monies, through the State Capitol Heritage Fund and the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods Large Projects Fund, to navigate the site control issues – and the grants require CWB to lease the site. As Beattie explained, “the vision is to create a programmatic site.”
CWB programs include rental of sail and row boats, instruction on a variety of maritime skills, space for events, and public access to their docks. They keep maritime history alive, through education and experience – and hope to be allowed to offer this to northern Lake Union.
“We are willing to raise the money to improve and maintain,” the property they lease. For now, they want to hear about other’s visions for the wharf. As Beattie explained, “We think we are only relevant if we are relevant to the community.”
Their workshop invite advertises “Food! Drinks! Boat Rides!” but the chance to influence and direct the future use of our waterfront may be the best opportunity of all. For further information, check out an article at www.fremontuniverse.com from July 2009, and follow the Friends of Northlake Wharf blog.
©2010 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.