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Lynn Street-end park clean up was meant to be

The clean-up of the Lynn Street-end park must have been in the stars because they seemed to be aligning. Paige Stockley was being photographed in the park in January by the Seattle Times for an article about the 20th anniversary of the crash of Alaska Flight 261, a flight that took the lives of 50 Seattleites, including her parents, Tom and Peg Stockley.

The colorful tile bench that she was sitting on was erected in honor of her parents who had lived in an Eastlake houseboat and were active in the community. It was inspired by benches in Barcelona that her father had loved.

At the same time, the new owner of Pete’s Supermarket, John Bennet, was getting ready to close the store for a six-week renovation. He happened to be outside and was watching from across the street as the photography session took place. He struck up a conversation with a neighbor passing by about how nice it would be to get the park cleaned up for the re-opening of Pete’s. Bennet wondered out loud how to make the clean-up happen. The neighbor pointed to Paige. “That girl,” she said, “she always gets things done.”

And like the start of the 1960s TV sitcom “That Girl,” things started to take off.  John and Paige met.  “What’s your wish list for park?” Paige asked.  John rattled off the things that he hoped to see improved — weeding and garbage pick up for starters — and how about new gravel and bistro tables like the ones in South Lake Union Park, and more sand for the beach.

Paige contacted the Parks Department. “It was easy,” she said. “They love volunteer work parties as long as you register on the Parks site and schedule with them so they can have someone there to supervise.”

There was little doubt in Paige’s mind that she could get able and willing Eastlake volunteers. After all the last major work on the park had had overwhelming community support. But that was nearly two decades earlier. The time was right: they just needed a good excuse.

Lynn Street-end park, as the tiled sign there describes, had been a neglected and trash-filled spot until 1971 when Pete’s founder, Pete Omalanz, led the neighborhood effort to turn it into Seattle’s first street-end park.  Then in 1995 a driverless delivery truck rolled down from Eastlake Avenue, through the park, and into the lake.

It would take another seven years to get the park rebuilt. “During the design process,” according to the sign, “a community group obtained a city neighborhood matching fund grant, with which artist Maggie Smith led neighborhood volunteers in creating and installing tiles in the retaining walls, bench and sign. The ‘walking fish’ design originated with a 1993 lakeside walking tour. The friends and family of Peg and Tom Stockley, longtime houseboaters and community leaders, donated the bench and its tile images.”

The rebuilt park was dedicated in 2002, two years after the crash of Flight 261. “It was a massive community project,” recalls Paige. It was spearheaded by her parent’s house boat neighbor Barb Donnette, who was also the founder of Eastlake’s P-Patch on Fairview Avenue, and included fundraising throughout the neighborhood.

But all of that was nearly 20 years ago. The park is maintained by Seattle Parks Department and by neighbors who pitch in, but the park had not had a thorough spring cleaning that anyone could remember since its dedication. 

The renovation of Pete’s Supermarket turned out to be the perfect excuse. The plan: clean up the park for the grand re-opening of Pete’s mid-March.

Paige put out the word on the Eastlake Social Club Facebook page for volunteers. 

“The parks department was fantastic,” says Paige, referring to employees Sara Franks and Sasha Wyatt. “We were able to check off everything on John’s wish list,” she added. Their only request of Paige was in a small hint – find a way to bring treats for her volunteers.

A nearby developer stepped up to pitch in $500 to buy plants, which was used to buy rosemary, helibores, lavender and many other plants.

Over the course of two days (Feb. 26 and 27) some 16 people came out to help pull out ivy and other invasive plants, lay down bark, plant flowers and shrubs, and pick up garbage. Lots of garbage, around 40 bags, and lots of cigarette butts. “And of course those are back,” says Paige despite the ordinance against smoking in parks and a new sign to remind people. That’s disappointing, but still Paige was buoyed by the success of the clean-up effort. She provided updates, photos and thanks on the ESC Facebook page, garnering over 100 likes.

Parks brought in new sand and new gravel. They provided the tools and gloves for the volunteers, and hauled away truckloads of debris. Four new bistro tables ordered by Parks will replace the two picnic tables currently there. (Their installation has been delayed due to the pandemic.)

And people brought treats. Lots of treats and homemade goodies. Dihana Vargas on more than one occasion brought Starbucks coffee and breakfast sandwiches from Eastlake Deli.

“Sara and Sacha were amazed and said over and over again it was one of the most successful turn outs they’d ever seen,” said Paige.

She’d definitely do it again. “Everyone was so appreciative of all the efforts,” she added.

“We really turned it into a party.”

Here’s a partial list of the volunteers: Alyssa Schoenfeld, Leslie Silverman, Ethan Silverman, Melissa Mead Ahlers, Tim Ahlers, Peapod Hironimus, Christian Scott, Serena Young, Ryan , Mac, Patricia (didn’t get their last names), Marilyn Michael, Sue Ann Rogers, Joyce Lane, Diahana Vargas.  We couldn’t get all the names, so if yours should be added or you can identify some of the people photographed, let us know at editors@eastlakenews.org.

Also more pictures on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/7145111961/?post_id=10156692034956962

and https://www.facebook.com/groups/7145111961/?post_id=10156695639681962

Diahana Vargas
Left to right: Sasha Wyatt from Parks Department, Ethan Silverman, Serena Young, and Paige Stockley
Sara Franks from the Parks Department
Peapod Hironimus and Paige Stockley

Patricia

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Written by Judy Smith

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