Lake Union Park Opening

Remember when we voted “no” on Paul Allen’s proposed Seattle Commons? Before the dot-com boom and bust? Before the NASDAQ crash? Before our ongoing Subprime Stagcession? That electoral defeat was in 1995; and in response, the Seattle Parks Foundation was established. Since 2001, the nonprofit has helped fund 30 city parks. Today it celebrates the opening of Seattle’s biggest new park in 120 years. Built for $30 million (including $10 million each from Allen’s Vulcan, Inc. and the SPF), Lake Union Park occupies a prime 12-acre site wrapping around the waterfront. Natural beaches have been restored, salmon and turtles have returned, and blue herons now patrol the shallows. (With them, unfortunately come Canada geese.) And if MoHaI wins its subsidy standoff with Mayor Mike McGinn, the museum is expected to occupy the renovated Naval armory building in late 2012. But the bulk of the open space is meant for strolling. Closest to the SLUT tracks and Valley Street—to be much smaller and quieter when the Mercer Mess is fixed—is a fine-gravel tree grove, where chairs can be dragged about. (Though it’ll take years before those saplings provide much shade.) A kid-friendly 300-foot walkway/fountain divides the gravel from the grass, planters, and a model boat pond leading to the water. And of course the entire shoreline is a walkable esplanade. Activities today include an 11:30 a.m. ribbon cutting, cheap eats ($1-$8) from Ivar’s, Molly Moon’s, and others, boat rides, kiddie activities, and two stages of music (notably including Recess Monkey and the Raggedy Anns). But note that in this urban environment, there’s no free parking for cars. Paddle your kayak, however, and you can simply park it on the beach. BRIAN MILLER

Sat., Sept. 25, 7 a.m.-7 p.m., 2010

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