CHEASTY GREENSPACE TRAILS AND BIKE PARK
A broad coalition of community organizations and neighbors have come together to bring about this new park and community space in our neighborhood greenspace. Neighborhood youth organizations are organizing after-school and summer restoration projects for South Seattle children and youth in Cheasty Greenspace. Once the new trails are completed these same groups will continue engaging youth and organizing ongoing activities. This summer, Asa Mercer Middle School students and the Refugee Women’s Alliance community are operating youth programs in this reclaimed urban park space. The local nonprofits, BikeWorks (located in Columbia City), Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance’s Washington Student League, and Cascade Bicycle Club’s Major Taylor Project have programs that engage youth through Biking. Bike Works even has a program that donates bikes to neighborhood kids and will continue to develop programs to support youth in learning, trail building, park maintenance, and leadership skills. These young people are learning the technical skills of riding and maintaining a bike, while connecting with neighbors and friends while having fun in nature.
This community-led project will restore 33 acres of Cheasty Greenspace, with trails for both hiking and mountain biking. This is a three-year project with phases for design, restoration, trail building, and feature building (both mountain bike and pedestrian). The bicycle trails are an official pilot project that will measure the impact on the environment and community. Our immediate goals for 2014-2015 will restore the entire greenspace for trails. In 2015 we will build a 1.5 mile cross country bike loop that will provide the initial feature for the Bike Park Pilot Trails. The design phase includes Seattle Parks ProView process, SEPA review, and geotechnical analysis. Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance is working on trail design for for the mountain bike components and local landscape architects Johnson Southerland will facilitate the public input process and design for the hiking trail features and access points.
This joint design work, by an experienced bike trail designer and a landscape architect, will provide an expert trail plan that is beautiful, enjoyable, sustainable, and ecologically sound.
All designs must pass through Seattle Parks ProView, which includes both SEPA review and geotechnical analysis. The Seattle Parks Department will be tracking and monitoring the restoration efforts and trail building to assess the impact on the natural environment.
Upon completion of this project our community will have safe and welcoming access to the largest contiguous greenspace in Rainier Valley and increased pedestrian options for recreation and walking through the Beacon Hill and Columbia City neighborhoods. Volunteers will activate and restore an urban forest with an emphasis on native trees and plants. Restoration will invigorate greenspace and create a healthy ecosystem that will result in increased biodiversity and a healthy forest for generations to come.
We are hosting monthly work parties as well as “super” events where businesses and organizations bring large groups of volunteers to restore the greenspace. In April 2014 we had a kick off event and hosted the Out for Sustainability’s EarthGAY restoration event with Mayor Murray showing up to support this special restoration effort. We were honored to be the host site for the REI Anderson Stewardship Project, a national three-day event in June that included bringing REI award winners from stores all over the country to this local project. We have since hosted dozens of these work parties from groups representing local businesses, universities, schools, neighborhood groups, youth organizations, and area churches,
all eager to be involved in the restoration of this land and supporting this vision for equitable access to our common heritage.
Cheasty Greenspace falls within a trifecta of Light Rail stations
The Columbia City, Mt.Baker, and Beacon Hill light rail stations are make this greenspace uniquely accessible from multiple nearby public transit locations. Opening Cheasty up to community access will inform the sustainable living ideals of urban design and planning, contributing to health, safety, and economic sustainability as well as forest habitat and community engagement with the natural world.
Studies show that exposure to nature not only lowers blood pressure, it can also enhance intelligence, boost mental fatigue, and restore attention.
At-risk students show marked improvement in test scores, enhanced cooperation, and conflict-resolution skills when they have regular access to learn and spend time in nature. Trails provide numerous healthy recreational opportunities: walking, running, biking, commuting, reflection, wildlife observation, and learning about ecology and other life sciences.
This project isn’t just about social trails; it’s about social justice. South Seattle benefits from increased access to nature for both mental and physical health.