What does an alley near a hospital and the redesign of a public park have in common? The Seattle Department of Neighborhoods!
A few years ago, Swedish Medical Center First Hill was interested in redeveloping its campus. Owing to the impact that hospitals, universities, and colleges have on surrounding neighborhoods, the City of Seattle requires major institutions like Swedish to work collaboratively with the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods Major Institutions and Schools program along with the neighbors of Swedish First Hill to create a Standing Advisory Committee (SAC). This committee provides advice and recommendations to the institution and City as part of the Major Institution Master Plan process which governs crafting development plans that are responsive to neighborhood concerns.
Since the revised plan proposed by Swedish included a vacation of a nearby alley (meaning the City would transfer its right-of-way to the hospital), they had to demonstrate to the SAC that the proposal was in the public interest as well as provide a long-term, public-benefit to the First Hill neighborhood. As part of its proposed package, Swedish Medical Center First Hill included funding for improvements to First Hill Park.
At this stage, the First Hill Improvement Association (FHIA), a community group whose members had been participating in the SAC meetings became involved.
They saw the value in a revitalized First Hill Park that would be a more active and welcoming space for community members. Building on the offer of funding from Swedish, FHIA applied for—and received!—a Neighborhood Matching Fund award from the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods to fund a community-led visioning process to develop a new design for First Hill Park. After conducting extensive community outreach, hosting focus groups, and holding public events at the park to elicit input from neighbors, FHIA worked with landscape architects at SiteWorkshop to produce designs and construction drawings. Now, with the drawings complete, FHIA is working to secure the final funding necessary for the project and looks forward to completing the revitalization of First Hill Park in 2019.
“By taking part in the Major Institution Master Plan process and making use of the Neighborhood Matching Fund program, FHIA secured the funding necessary to begin the process of redeveloping First Hill Park. At first glance, the connection between these two programs isn’t apparent, but fundamentally they’re both about making Seattle’s communities better.” – Maureen Sheehan, Major Institutions and Schools program coordinator
Whether working with communities and major institutions to craft better development plans or supporting community groups that are making a difference in their neighborhoods, Seattle Department of Neighborhoods is committed to providing the resources and tools for Seattleites to build stronger communities.