Friends of Jimi Hendrix Park members paid a visit to King County Councilmember Larry Gossett’s office last week, to thank him for advocating for a $35,000 contribution toward Phase II of the park and provide a status update.
Jimi Hendrix Park opened Friday, Oct. 7, next to the Northwest African American Museum. Construction of Little Wing, the first phase of the park, was completed earlier in 2016.
“I’m pleased with this accomplishment,” Gossett told the visitors. “I knew that as long as (project manager) Maisha Barnett stayed focused on getting it done, it would get done. I know her grandpa would be very proud of what she’s done.”
Gossett advocated for providing $35,000 in this year’s budget cycle for Phase II, Are You Experienced, which includes a central shelter in the park’s plaza to serve as an amphitheater and a shadow wave wall.
Barnett said the shelter is being constructed, and is expected to be installed sometime in March.
“It’s a butterfly,” she said, “it’s loosely a butterfly from above, and it represents an outdoor performance pavilion.”
The wave wall is planned to be three pieces at the north end of the park, where it meets Sam Smith Park. The pieces will represent sound waves, with silhouette images of Jimi Hendrix on the two outside walls and his face on the middle section.
Barnett said the wave wall could be scaled back or replaced with a new feature, after a recent estimate for the project was more than double the initial estimate.
The Friends of Jimi Hendrix Park members went from Gossett’s office to a meeting with Seattle Parks and Recreation officials to discuss seeking more bids for the wave wall project.
“We’re shopping around, because that’s just a little too outrageously expensive,” Barnett said.
One alternative could be to commission a statue, similar to what exists in Capitol Hill.
The Seattle Parks and Recreation’s metal shop constructed the purple fender information kiosk at the park. Gossett suggested using it to add more information about Jimi Hendrix and his history, adding he recently asked a group of Garfield High School students whether they were familiar with the famous musician.
“They asked where he hung out,” Gossett said, “and I said, ‘He used to hang out right where you are.”
Gossett said he recalls seeing Hendrix hanging around in the Central District early on in his career, but didn’t know him personally.
“I saw him at some of the clubs he and Sammy Drain played at, and then I saw him at Garfield Park just hanging out with some of the boys in the hood,” he said. “And I, like everyone else in the black community in Seattle, were very excited when he made it big.”
A grand opening celebration of Jimi Hendrix Park, which will include music and special guests, is planned for June 17. The complete program for the four-hour event is still being finalized.