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Magnuson Park Update: A Great Urban Park?

Steve Scher
05/05/2011 at 10:00 a.m.

Magnuson Park is a sprawling 350 acre park with ball fields, dog parks, sandy beaches and old buildings occupied by artists and nonprofits. When the area was turned over to the city from the Navy, Warren Magnuson said the region had the opportunity to create one of the great urban parks. Well into the transformation, has the vision been realized? Plans are currently in the works to form partnerships with private businesses to occupy and help refurbish some of the buildings. All of the tenants currently occupying Building 11 in the park were served with eviction notices, which the city rescinded Tuesday. Some citizens are worried that public land may end up in the hands of a private developer. But does public land necessarily exclude private interests? What about cafes in European plazas, or the MOMA in Central Park? Can public and private coexist on public lands, or is there a conflict of interest? What does Seattle want from its public spaces and what makes a great urban park?


Eric Friedli is the acting deputy superintendent of Seattle Parks and Recreation.

Rusty Williams is the chair of the Magnuson Park Advisory Committee and the president of Friends of Magnuson Park. He is the son of Jeanette Williams, the Seattle City Councilwoman who helped to craft the initial plan for Magnuson Park.

Nancy Rottle is an associate professor of landscape architecture at the University of Washington.

Darrell Vange is president of Ravenhurst Development and head of Building 11 LLC, the private company that has signed a contract with the city to lease Building 11 in Magnuson Park.

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