Officials from the City of Lynnwood, Trust for Public Land and Kaiser Permanente braved the rainy weather Wednesday to celebrate the official reopening of South Lynnwood Park.
The renovation, which started in 2017, will provide an upgraded recreational space for the over 2,000 residents who live within a 10-minute walk of the park.
“Thank you for building my new backyard,” a community member said to city officials before the event began.
The park’s new design was created following extensive community input. Now, residents can enjoy the pickleball courts, a new playground, basketball and tennis courts and a bike servicing station, which includes an air pump as well as multiple tools for small repairs.
“Equitable access to parks and open spaces are critical,” said Dr. Elisa Frost Granger, associate medical director of primary care at the Kaiser Permanente Lynnwood Medical Center. “Kaiser Permanente believes good health extends beyond the doctor’s office and begins with healthy environments, including accessible parks and safe playgrounds.”
According to Lynnwood Deputy Parks Director Sarah Olson, the South Lynnwood neighborhood is the city’s most diverse area, yet it has the least resources for its local community members. Olson said the parks department wants the park to be a catalyst for building a better relationship with neighborhood residents.
These renovations are the first updates the park has received since its development in 1978.
“It seems like just a blink ago, right?” Mayor Christine Frizzell asked. The mayor said she remembers when the park was first being constructed, with railroad ties lining the play areas and pathways. Now, she said the park looks better than ever, and she’s excited for the community to finally be able to enjoy it.
“All people deserve quality, close-to-home access to the outdoors within their communities,” said Sarneshea Evans of Trust for Public Land. “South Lynnwood Park is a perfect example of how parks can improve community health and protect the environment at the same time.”
In addition to the new amenities, the park features a mural painted on the wall near the playground. Created in November 2020 by local artist Gabrielle Abbott, the mural only features plants that tribal natives used for food and medicinal purposes in honor of those who lived on the land before the City of Lynnwood was founded.
“The hands are really big in the composition, almost god-like,” Abbott said. “That’s because I wanted to show that humans have the power to make a really big impact. And we can and should use our impact to take care of the world around us.”
According to the Parks, Arts and Recreation Department Director Lynn Sordel, almost 60% of the park’s updates were made possible with grants from the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program and the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The other half came from partnerships with Trust for Public Land and Kaiser Permanente.
“I’ve heard the word ‘partnership’ about seven billion times today,” said Ann Larson, a representative from U.S. Senator Patty Murray’s office. “But these kinds of things really don’t happen without great partnerships.”
Cameron Caldwell, a representative from U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell’s office, said while it may not appear the federal government has much to do with these projects, senators still get excited when communities work hard to better their area.
“It’s really the local people here that make these projects happen,” Caldwell said. “The federal government just gives them some money for it.”
Washington State Senator John Lovick attended the event dressed in full pickleball attire and ready to play. However, the pickleball courts have not yet been cured due to the rainy weather and are unable to be used for at least another week.
Because of this, Lovick decided that instead of just coming to use the courts, he would be donating pickleball equipment to the Lynnwood library. This way, community members can rent the equipment just like they would a book and are able to learn a new sport even if they can’t afford their own equipment.
Lovick said he hopes this will encourage community members to become more active.
“In the pandemic, we had two choices,” Lovick said. “We could live in a cave or a cocoon. I chose to live in a cocoon, because I came out vibrant and ready to go, and I hope [this helps you do the same].”
Based on extra community input, the park’s improvements also include better sightlines so parents can more easily track their children at play, improved access for people with disabilities and an upgraded picnic area and pond.
In addition to introducing newly renovated park, the City of Lynnwood announced Wednesday it had won a VISION 2050 Award from the Puget Sound Regional Council for its South Lynnwood Neighborhood Plan. This award recognizes projects and programs that help ensure a sustainable future despite an area’s rapid growth.
The city’s South Lynnwood Neighborhood Plan focuses on integrated housing, transportation and open space goals and policies. The plan seeks to help South Lynnwood residents access opportunity through transit, preserve housing affordability, strengthen connections between the community and decision-makers and support the business community.
–Story and photos by Lauren Reichenbach