Off at a 40th b-day party for a friend, we finally managed to meet Jake Beattie, Deputy Director of the Center for Wooden Boats and quizzed him a bit on their efforts to open a waterfront activity center just to the west of Gas Works Park.
There’s quite a bit of background on the Friends of North Lake Community Wharf web site, but we were still scratching our heads a bit trying to figure out exactly where they were in the process.
What we learned is that the land is presently owned by Metro King County, which has to sell it for financial reasons. The area just across the street has already been sold to a biotech firm (we should see a new 5-story building go up in that space shortly), but the wharf area itself is still hanging a for sale sign. The proponents of the plan, therefore, are on a fast quest to find a “parks interest”-type buyer (like the Seattle Parks Department) to buy the land and then lease it to the Center. As time passes, there’s a better likelihood that someone else will show up interested in the land for some other purpose.
That said, they’re making good progress. In late September, the City Council passed a non-binding resolution in support of the effort, and they have good conversations going with a number of interested agencies.
North Lake Wharfies (wharf rats?), we’d like to offer our support in any way we can. It boggles our mind how gorgeous Lake Union is and how close it is to all of us, and yet we feel cut off from it. The coastline is mostly private property and even Gas Works merely lets you gaze at the lake. Few swim (for good reason) and there’s no place to rent a kayak or canoe.
Open up the coast! Free the water! Take back the North Shore!