A year-old organization, Volunteer Park Trust, is doing exciting work in one of our most beautiful and best used parks. The group is hard at work, raising money, recruiting neighbors and volunteers, cleaning out invasives and replanting beds in the park, following the original Olmsted plans - with updated cultivars in some cases. Which is a story unto itself - reinterpreting century-old planting plans with an updated plant palette.
I've written a column about what this energetic and skilled group is up to - it'll run in Pacific Northwest magazine in early autumn - but in the meantime, check out their very cool water tower logo...
Here's an excerpt from VPT's current newsletter explaining their long-term goals -
Projects and Vision
We are busy planning our next projects. Possibly the least glamorous but most critical of our projects will be a study of the park's entire watering system. After a year’s experience working in the park and collaborating with Seattle Parks & Recreation, we now understand the real complexities of restoring, replanting and maintaining our projects. During the Peach Garden planting project, we discovered that the irrigation infrastructure in Volunteer Park is barely functioning. The goal is a plan for making Volunteer Park a showplace for the conservation and intelligent use of water. This will be a massive, complex issue. We are now in the process of defining initial steps.
The second large project, and always a focus of our plans, will be the Reservoir as it faces possible decommissioning. We want to establish VPT as a stakeholder to ensure that coming changes protect what the Olmsted firm intended in 1908, as required by Volunteer Park’s City and National Landmark status. In a few years, we want to stroll around a grand reflecting pool on a broad path lined with benches, new plantings and authentic lighting, featuring a stunning western view with no wire fence. This will be the restoration of the “Sunset Promenade” as the central landscape feature of the park.
Our third long-term project is restoration of the iconic Water Tower, which once boasted the best views in Seattle. Neglected for many years and full of technical problems, it anchors the entry and main Concourse along with the Conservatory. Many people still climb its 107 steps, but overgrown trees now block much of the vista. This project will involve juggling complex issues of toxic soils, tree management, current use rules and multi-agency permits. The time to start exploring and planning for this project is now.