Seattle Parks and Recreation will use $50,000 in funding to further study and design improved lighting in Cal Anderson Park this year.
“The money just became available in January, so we’ll start it probably sometime in February,” said SPR planning manager Kathleen Conner. “Since there was that study done previously, some of that groundwork has already been done.”
Dark Light Design of Seattle took the lead on developing the Cal Anderson Park Lighting Master Plan for the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce in 2015, which was funded through a $13,500 grant from the Seattle Office of Economic Development.
Light measurements conducted around the park for the master plan varied drastically, with the playfield coming in around 30 foot-candles, while the area around the fountain was .06. The path along the water feature came in at .60 foot-candles.
The current historical globes on pole lights around the park not only cause glare, the report states, but make it difficult to get a good view of the night sky.
The first option, which is an LED retrofit, wouldn't fix the glare issue, but would be easier to get approved, according to the report.
The second option, estimated at $960,000, would also use LEDs, but with fixtures that better distribute light. On top of being the most costly option, the report states a form change of this scale could be hard to get approved through various review boards.
Adding flood lights below the globe lights for additional coverage is the cheapest option, but wouldn't reduce glare from the globes and would be an intensive installment process.
Conner said SPR will be analyzing the park and lighting in more detail. As an Olmsted Park, the lighting selected will need to be appropriate, while also enhancing safety and energy efficiency.
The Seattle Landmark Preservation Board has at times approved LED retrofits with historic lighting fixtures, Conner said, but special attention is needed.
“We’ll work with City Light on what they’ve got and how to keep moving forward with that,” she said.
The Capitol Hill light rail station opened last March, increasing traffic through Cal Anderson Park, which was a big reason for moving forward with more study of lighting there, Conner said.
Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce executive director Sierra Hansen said when the Cal Anderson Park Lighting Master Plan was initiated there had been concerns about how the opening of the light rail station would affect traffic through the park and whether there would be an increase in illegal activity.
“There were concerns that it would become hazardous, that people would become targets for violence and muggings,” she said, adding such a spike in criminal activity did not occur, however, even more ridership to Capitol Hill through light rail is expected this summer. “I think there’s still a chance of kind of nefarious activity happening in the park.”
Conner said the need for improved lighting was also addressed in the Cal Anderson Park Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) report produced by the Seattle Neighborhood Group in 2016, which included numerous site visits from early March to late December 2015.
“After these site visits it is clear that, from a CPTED perspective, the
lighting conditions in the park need serious revision,” the report states. “Crime data also indicates strongly that much of the crime in Cal Anderson Park occurs during twilight and after dark.”
The CPTED report found a “dramatic boom in crime on the perimeter of Cal Anderson Park after 2013,” including assaults and a rise in narcotics activities and liquor violations.
“The historical ‘replica’ luminaires on site produce stark, glaring light that emanates indiscriminately from the globes,” the report states. “Many of these blinding globes are so bright that the area immediately outside the pool of light is enveloped in darkness that can entirely hide people
Hansen said the $50,000 allocated to study and design lighting improvements shows SPR is committed to safety in Cal Anderson Park, adding the master plan created in 2015 was always meant to be a guidebook for the department, which will take a more intensive approach to its assessment.
“Capitol Hill Housing really led on advocating with the parks department to find the best way to move forward incrementally with getting this work done,” she said.
If a new business improvement area comes to fruition, adding commercial portions of Pike/Pine, 12th Avenue, 15th Avenue and 19th Avenue, Hansen said there would be money earmarked for activating public spaces, such as Cal Anderson Park, which would also enhance safety.
Conner said a webpage for the lighting project will be created on the SPR website once the project is farther along.
“Eventually we’ll develop a project for it,” she said. “It may come out of this study, with cost estimates.”
Parks and Recreation is also working on a redesign of the restrooms at Cal Anderson Park, which will be remodeled as four all-gender rooms. SPR will be providing updates on that project during an open house 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 10, at Optimism Brewing. It will also provide updates on a new Cal Anderson Fountain filtration system and ADA-accessible walking path.
Over the summer SPR replaced the Bobby Morris Playfield’s synthetic turf with a cork-based infill, which was deemed likely safer than the crumb rubber that had been there before.
Cal Anderson Park Lighting Master Plan by branax2000 on Scribd