Courthouse Park gets makeover to improve safety

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This article was originally published on KIRO-TV on Aug 2, 2018

SEATTLE – The park by the King County Courthouse is about to get a makeover.

Seattle City Council member Sally Bagshaw was concerned about all of the crime outside the courthouse, and recent attacks on jurors. She worked with other city and county agencies to come up with a plan for the park that is called City Hall Park. Seattle City Hall used to be located in what is now the King County Courthouse.

Bagshaw says she was especially concerned when the Seattle Fire Department decided it was no longer safe for them to respond to homeless camps in Pioneer Square without sending at least six firefighters. That’s when she started looking at the park to see what changes could be made.

The trees have been trimmed in the park and the light fixtures cleaned to add more light. She’s asked for more lighting to be added on the north side of the park next to the King County Courthouse.

On Monday, the Seattle Parks Department will bring in games and other amenities to attract people to the park. Bagshaw says they’ve reached out to local food trucks, hoping they’ll be interested in setting up at the park.

Bagshaw saw how the transformations of Westlake Park and Occidental Square by the Downtown Seattle Association have made a difference. Both parks had criminal activity, but now, for much of the day, they are crowded with people playing games, sitting outside and eating lunch.

It’s not an effort to move the homeless along, she says, but a plan to build community.

Bagshaw wants to manage expectations. She says this is a first step toward helping combat the crime trends around the courthouse, a problem she says dates back more than 20 years.

She says the steps taken Monday are just the beginning.