Laurelhurst Community Club
Serving 2800 Households in Seattles Laurelhurst Neighborhood
March 31, 2001
Councilmember Nick Licata, Chair
Arts, Culture & Parks Committee
1100 Municipal Building
600 Fourth Avenue
Seattle, Washington 98104-1876
Re: Final EIS for the Washington Park Arboretum Master Plan
Dear Councilmember Licata, Members of the City Council and Park Board Commissioners:
The Laurelhurst Community Club Board of Trustees has closely followed the process of the development of the Washington Park Arboretum Master Plan and the draft and final Environmental Impact Statements. We support the position of the Arboretum Park Preservation Coalition, the Seattle Community Council Federation and our neighbors in Montlake and offer the following comments to supplement our letter of June 26, 2000.
We appreciate the many changes that have been made to preserve the parklike character of the Arboretum. We do not, however, believe that the changes go far enough in striking an appropriate balance between the arboretum and park functions. We believe that there is a critical need for the Arboretum to continue to serve as a park, urban refuge and natural environment with minimal future development. Further changes are necessary to moderate the impact of building, traffic and parking. Specifically:
- New Buildings: We do not believe that new buildings, including administrative offices should be constructed in the park. Park property should be reserved for park uses and the peaceful, tranquil enjoyment of Seattle's citizens. If the new buildings and outdoor shelters are constructed, citizens loose valuable and irreplaceable greenspace. If classroom and/or office space is needed, they should be located outside the park. In an area facing unprecedented growth and increased density, we find loss of open space unacceptable.
- Signage: Signage should be limited in size, low to the ground and unobtrusive in appearance. A signage standard incorporating these principles should be developed and implemented. The current signage that appears along Azalea Way is out of character with other signage in the park.
- Parking Lots: The master plan calls for consolidation and elimination of parking lots. We believe that parking lots should be distributed throughout the park. The current configuration of parking lots ensures that seniors and less mobile citizens are able to access and enjoy the park. The small lots along Arboretum Drive and in the area of Foster Island should be retained.
- Arboretum Drive: We do not support realignment of Arboretum Drive in the vicinity of the Graham Visitors Center to make more room for buildings. We believe an area bounded on the west by the present Arboretum Drive, on the east by the Broadmoor boundary, on the north at is now and on the south by the current access road provides sufficient space for expansion.
- New Visitors Center: We do not support the addition of a 2,500 square foot new visitor and education center adjacent to the Japanese Garden. This new construction would eliminate a popular picnic area and much needed parking area. It would also eliminate greenspace and detract from the park like character of the Arboretum.
- Long-Term Sustainability: We support the goal of long-term fiscal sustainability of the Arboretum, but in a different manner than contemplated by the proponents of the master plan. It is important to maintain the current plant collection, but constructing new buildings to serve as a revenue source is not the answer. We support maintaining the Olmsted Brothers landscape and design concepts and establishment of an endowment to accomplish these purposes, rather than erection of new buildings. There is no clear plan as to how the $44 million will be raised to implement the plan as proposed. Financial aspects of the plan must be addressed.
We hope you will consider the views of the Laurelhurst Community Club on the EIS. We appreciate the opportunity to comment.
Jeannie Hale, President
3425 West Laurelhurst Drive NE
Seattle, Washington 98105
525-5135 / fax 525-9631
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