The Center for Wooden Boats (CWB) is a fun destination in South Lake Union offering family outings like the Wooden Boat Festival in July, free Sunday sailings across the lake, sailing lessons, maritime exhibits, and even Tugboat Storytime on the Arthur Foss. Long before Lake Union Park was developed, the CWB added life to the waterfront on the south end.
Makes you wish we had something like that here on the north end, huh? Well, we may just be in luck!
The CWB conducted a study to determine the feasibility of opening another location on the north side of the lake which “Would serve the dual purpose of housing large National Historic Landmark vessels for both display and maintenance, and act as a center of community waterfront activity.” The CWB identified land adjacent to Gas Works Park and just west of the Harbor Patrol (see picture), which is owned by King County Metro.
I’ll stop here for a moment because there’s a whole lot of history behind the idea of re-gentrifying the neglected north end of the lake, how CWB took on this project, and how the complexities of the site caused a brief impasse in negotiations between CWB and King County Metro. So if you’re up for some interesting reading, take a look at their study.
Earlier this week, the King County Council issued a press release in support of the location and the negotiation of an interim lease between the CWB and King County Metro. So I traded emails with Dan Leach, who leads community engagement for the CWB, and he was kind enough to provide me with some background:
DL: The Northlake Community Wharf project has been talked about for some time, and we’re finally getting a little closer to reality. It’s kind of exciting to think about. What’s going on now, as noted in the King County Council release, is that we’re negotiating an interim lease with our good partners at Metro to use the parts of the property on land, the building and the lot.
MS: What are next steps in potentially making this a reality?
DL: Hopefully we’ll get that lease hammered out sometime before the end of the year. With this interim lease done we could begin to bring some of our historic boats to the property and do restoration work on them in the building or on the land. And with an interim lease in place, all parties will have time to really dig in to figure out the very complex details around water use at the site. Solving those issues is what will make the vision of a full second campus for CWB on Lake Union a reality.
MS: Are there any ways interested parties in Wallingford could get involved?
DL: We have already had lots of support from such Wallyhood organizations and companies as The Wallingford Community Council, Friends of Gasworks Park, Stoneway Hardware, and we’re always looking for people who might want to help volunteer at CWB. Once an interim lease is signed, and we are able to plan uses at the site, there will be many more opportunities for people to help at the site. CWB runs on volunteer power.
MS: I love the idea of traveling to and from both sides of the lake ON the lake! I know there’s a water taxi right now that takes people out to the floating farmers market. How would the CWB play into this north/south connection?
DL: On the idea of travel from North to South on the lake, we love it. Access to the water is one of our key missions. We manage the historic ships wharf at Lake Union Park for the city and work intimately with the water taxi, farm boat, and others trying to reestablish water transit on Lake Union. Our long term vision includes the ability to get into a CWB boat at the North end of the lake and sail or row yourself to the South end.
We’ll keep you posted on the details as they develop!