Virus slows work, but new ideas are still afloat for Colonnade

Work on proposals for improvements at the Colonnade Open Space under Interstate 5 have been slowed by the pandemic despite a strong long-range schematic plan by the distinguished landscape architecture firm J.A. Brennan Associates. 

The schematic plan culminated a 2015-16 City-funded planning and design study managed by the Eastlake Community Council in close liaison with the Seattle Parks and Recreation Department and WSDOT, and with extensive outreach to and involvement by the public and user groups. 

Work was scheduled to be completed this year on improvements to the off-leash dog area, but finding the right personnel to operate heavy equipment because of the pandemic has stalled the work.

Other proposals for the Colonnade include a skatespot (medium-sized skatepark); new bicycle and pedestrian connections (including a north-south commuter pathway and removal of barriers to the disabled); climbing/bouldering, parkour, and outdoor gym facilities; a community garden; public art; a restroom; and newly remodeled mountain bike areas.

One of the ideas, the skatespot, has strong backing from the skateboarding community. Skateboarding is particularly enjoyed by many people, and now is an Olympic sport.  In 2007 with the help of consultants and a volunteer task force, the Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation adopted a Citywide Skatepark Plan that called for a skate feature under I-5 to serve the Capitol Hill/University/South Lake Union/Eastlake areas.

Where such plans are today with reduced budgets is a good question.

The Colonnade skatespot would be near the sidewalk where Lakeview Avenue E. passes under the centerline of I-5, which as a free “roof” would protect skateboarders from the rain.  The skatespot would be lighted when used at night and in the dark months.

Architect Sean Kelly and civil engineer Micah Shapiro donated the skatespot design with two bowls, two ledges, a hip (two ramps at a 90-degree angle from each other rising to a shared deck), a manny pad (a long low platform allowing skateboarders to make small jumps where the level changes), and an area for flat-ground tricks. There would be safety handrails and places for anyone to stand or sit and watch the action. With further public involvement, features can be added or changed. 

To make the Colonnade skatespot finally happen, many volunteers are needed. The biggest challenge is the lack of funding for such projects in city budgets.

The skateboarding community is working to make the project a reality despite the pressures. Please lend your name to the Colonnade Skate Coalition, which also welcomes and needs your ideas and other involvement. Please contact volunteer Luca Motte, phone/text 206-384-3845, seattleskatefeatures.com. The ECC is at info@eastlakeseattle.org.

Chris Leman, Luca Motte, and Steve Dunphy contributed to this report.

Featured image: Artist rendering of a skatespot under the Colonnade.

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