Yearly Newsletter October 2014

Friends of Discovery Park

PO Box 99662 Seattle WA 98139-0662

2014 in Review

FoDP’s First President and Life Member, Robert E Kildall, Dies

Bob Kildall died early the morning of Monday June 16, 2014.

Bob was one of the original founders and the first President of Friends of Discovery Park when Discovery Park was created.  He was a Life Member of FoDP, and was active on the Board of Trustees until the last 2 years when Alzheimer's Disease made it too difficult for him to attend the meetings.

Friends of Discovery Park will plant a tree in Discovery Park in memory of Bob.

Bob Kildall and the making of Discovery Park

In 1964 the Department of Defense announced that they intended to declare 85% of Fort Lawton as surplus to their future needs, and Bob Kildall along with several others went into action.  By 1965 they succeeded in getting Forward Thrust to include three million dollars in a future anticipated bond issue for seed money to help obtain as much of the Fort Lawton land as possible for public park purposes.  At the same time, the military was considering re-purposing Fort Lawton into an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Base. 

It took until 1968 to get the Forward Thrust bond issue before the voters…and it was approved making funds available to continue the fight.  In June of that year, Bob and Judge Donald Voorhees organized Citizens For Fort Lawton Park, initially to oppose the missile site as being inappropriate so close to the center of a major metropolitan area.  Bob joined the civic activist organization “Choose an Effective City Council (C.H.E.C.C.) to help enlist City support in opposition to further military activities at Fort Lawton, and to create on the site a Fort Lawton Park, larger and finer than any other park in the Seattle Parks system.


By the end of 1968 the Secretary Of Defense announced their capitulation and withdrew all planning for missile activity at Fort Lawton.  In October of 1970, President Nixon signed a Bill allowing acquisition of surplus military sites specifically for parkland purposes.  Even though the City had no rights to the Army property, Citizens’ For Fort Lawton Park and C.H.E.C.C. convinced Mayor Wes Uhlman in 1971 to hire arguably the finest park architect in the world…Dan Urban Kiley of Vermont…to prepare a Master Plan for a park at that site.

The Master Plan for what was known then as Fort Lawton Park was released to the public on February 1, 1972.  President Nixon signed the Deed for 391 acres of Fort Lawton to go to the City of Seattle, on August 30, 1972.  Two days later, on September 1, 1972, the President’s daughter (Patricia Nixon Cox) arrived in town to deliver the Deed in favor of Seattle in a large ceremony at the park-to-be site, complete with extensive Native American celebratory dancing throughout the day (the United Indians Of All Tribes Foundation received a lease for 99 years to 19 acres on the North Slope of the Fort).  The City Council immediately adopted a new name for the park…Discovery Park…and it was opened to the public the following day.


Early the next year Senator Henry Jackson dedicated the park and the Friends of Discovery Park was born, with Bob Kildall as its first President.  FoDP was incorporated a year later, on November 15, 1974, with 21 Trustees, seven of whom had been members of the earlier Citizens’ For Fort Lawton Park.

From the beginning to recent times, Bob Kildall was the essential ingredient in the formation, development, and protection of both Discovery Park and Commodore Park…the M.V.P…serving on the boards of The Magnolia Community Club, the Citizens’ For Fort Lawton Park, Choose an Effective City Council (C.H.E.C.C.), The Mayoral Appointed Fort Lawton Citizens’ Advisory Committee, The Seattle Board of Park Commissioners which he chaired in 1974, and The Friends of Discovery Park on whose Board of Trustees he dutifully served for 40 years.  He was unrelenting in demanding absolute compliance with the Discovery Park Master Plan and everything it stood for - - the Objectives, the Guiding Principles, and the Primary Function – Central Purpose of the Park.  No matter who attempted to compromise his vision of Discovery Park, they were certain to face the wrath of Robert E Kildall who rarely lost his tenacious battles.  He will be missed.


The West Point Treatment Plant $5.3 million Settlement Fund

        * The Capehart Project

The restoration is currently being maintained by volunteers weeding, mulching, filling in with new plants, etc.   The remains of Illinois Ave have been removed, and a trail through the site is being planned.  The security fencing around the periphery will continue to remain in place into 2016.

        * The North Parking Lot Re-Do Project

The new vegetation is coming along nicely and being maintained by volunteers.  The pavement is still waiting to be replaced.  Damage around the top of the water cascade may necessitate a fence in the future, and the orange temporary fencing protecting the swale may be replaced with a permanent “split rail” type fence.

        *Nike Project

This Project was actually closed out several years ago, but has several “problems” that need correcting:  The silt-fence of mesh, wire, and steel posts along the eastern edge was not removed and is now buried in Blackberries, non-native Maple trees need to be removed, additional planting and restoration is needed but the originally imported fill materials are unsuitable and need to be improved before this can occur.

        *South End California Blvd

The west side of California Blvd behind the Officers Row houses has a paved “parking area” along the southern end that pre-dates the Park.  This is a no-parking area within the Park, and is closed to the public.  However there is an on-going pattern of abuse by Forest City employees, their guests and contractors, and their tenants.   The pavement needs to be removed ASAP before the homes are sold and the new owners assume the same pattern of illegal parking within the Park.

Park Projects Funded by FoDP

        * Northern Pedestrian Pathways

Gravel pathways from the North Parking Lot now connect up to the City sidewalks at W Lawton St and at the Army property gate.  This has greatly improved public safety for pedestrians at the north end of the Park.   Two additional pathways over to Bay Terrace are still waiting construction and completion.

        * North Parking Lot Tree Replacement

A Plan has been drawn and approved by the landscape architect, and the replacement of missing trees in the North Parking Lot planting strips is scheduled to take place this Fall 2014.        

        * Parade Ground Tree Replacement

Our proposal to replace the missing trees in the rows around the Parade Ground in the Fort Lawton Landmark District has been approved, and is scheduled to take place this Winter 2014-2015.        

        * Utah Pond Repair and Viewing Project

This Project is one of those that just can’t get off the ground even though we have been working on it since 2010.   It started out as a simple repair/restoration and enhancement by the Conservation Corps and Discovery Park Maintenance Crew, and now has expanded to include the Parks landscape architect and engineer – neither of whom have the time to work on it, but both of which want to assess and approve it before it moves forward.   So there it sits.

Shuttle Bus Service in the Park

On weekends during the summer months, the Discovery Park Advisory Council funds a free bus shuttle service between the Visitor Center and the Beach.  An around-the-Park shuttle service is called for in The Master Plan, and we believe it is time for Parks to start providing this service.   Not only should the service be year-round, but the shuttle route should include stops at all 3 Parking Lots, the Beach, and perhaps a mid-point along Discovery Park Blvd.

Security Gate Proposed on Discovery Park Blvd

A Security Gate on Discovery Park Blvd has been proposed by King County and Seattle Parks to reduce illegal vehicle access and parking at the Beach.  Violations have increased exponentially as has vandalism.  These activities degrade Discovery Park, and are a security threat to the West Point Treatment Plant.  This summer King County and Seattle Parks undertook a trial period of increased enforcement of vehicle and parking regulations, along with new signage.  The results of this effort have not yet been reported.

Sale of Historic Houses in Discovery Park & DPD

Forest City (owner of the historic houses known as Officers Row and Montana Circle) has a buyer/developer for these properties as a group.  The developer’s plan is to remodel the interiors, then sell the houses to 22 individual private owners.  A permit was applied for with the City Department of Planning and Development to subdivide the current 3 parcels into individual lots – one for each home - giving each of the 22 individual private owners their own piece of dirt to go with their house. (There are no plans at this time to build additional houses on the parcels.)  Friends of Discovery Park OPPOSED this DPD Permit, and also asked that the City require the developer to dedicate Washington Ave and Montana Circle (and their sidewalks) to the City for public use.  DPD has not yet made a decision.

Ongoing Park Violations:

Parks has essentially “lost control” of Discovery Park:  Off-leash dogs are everywhere, bicyclists are on the trails where they are prohibited, even in our excessively hot dry weather people are setting off fire-starting rockets in the tinder dry grass on the Parade Ground, people are driving to the Beach without a Permit and parking illegally in the Fire Lanes, parties and fires are frequent on the Beach, extreme sport fans are setting up 700 foot long high-wire lines between trees, Moms and kids are going over the logs and past the warning signs to climb down the South Bluff  where they are prohibited – and then having to be rescued by the Fire Department.

Sadly the Park Department doesn’t even know when these things are happening because no one is out there.  There is no visible “presence” in the Park by Staff, Animal Control, Park Rangers, or Seattle Police to educate or deter violators.

Free Maps in the Park – Our Primary Public Outreach

This year, we will have distributed approximately 40,000 copies of our FreeMap & Membership Form in the Park ☺ ☺ ☺.  That brings our grand total to 180,000 maps!   These maps are available in dispenser boxes at the Bulletin Boards in each of the 3 Discovery Park parking lots, and also inside the Visitor Center.  

Ballot & Membership Renewal

This is our once-a-year snail mailing with your Ballot & Membership Renewal Form.  Please mail back your Form in the envelope provided, or go on-line to our web site and renew your membership using PayPal.  Please provide your email address as Action Alerts and Announcements during the year are sent out by email.

Our Annual Meeting is scheduled for Saturday morning

March 14, 2015 at the Discovery Park Visitor Center

Come and meet other Members.  Light Refreshments will be served.  Park Staff and West Point Treatment Plant Staff will be present to give a presentation, and then answer your questions in a Panel Q & A.

Mark your calendar today ☺ ☺ ☺