Image credit: Karen Kiest, Landscape Architects.
Image credit: Karen Kiest, Landscape Architects.

On any given summer day walking in the Chinatown/International District, and passing by International Children’s Park, you’ll see that it’s no surprise why the citizens of Seattle voted in support of the 2008 Parks and Green Spaces Levy.

The “Dragon Park,” as it is affectionately called by many, is a hidden gem that needs a little tender loving care. Elders use the space as a quiet refuge from the buses, trains, and vehicles that fill the busiest streets of the neighborhood each day. And neighborhood children frolic happily, climbing on the park’s landmark dragon sculpture. It is clear that green, open spaces are integral to our communities for cleaning the air, beautifying the neighborhood, and improving the pedestrian experience. Spaces like International Children’s Park, also serve as a reminder of our roots, and provides a place for people to gather and share culturally rich experiences.

What is particularly unique about International Children’s Park is the grassroots improvement efforts of several community stakeholders, who have joined together to improve the park. Also unique is the park’s local roots—it was originally designed by local architect Joey Ing, and is home to the iconic bronze dragon sculpture by Seattle artist, George Tsutakawa. This phase of improvements began in early 2007 with extensive outreach by the Friends of the International Children’s Park (FICP). This community group includes residents, parents, members from the UW Landscape Architecture Program, International District Housing Alliance’s WILD youth program, Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation & Development Authority, Inter*Im Community Development Association, Wing Luke Asian Museum and other community groups.

Since then, funding for the Children’s Park has already totaled over $600,000, which includes two Department of Neighborhoods Small and Simple and one Large Neighborhood Matching Awards, and also funding dedicated through the 2008 Parks and Green Spaces Levy. This funding has allowed local groups to develop rich monthly programming, such as Lunar New Year Festival lantern painting and an end school year potluck. FICP also held numerous public meetings to gain support for the design phase’s public process, and the hiring of a landscape architect to work with the community to create a design draft for a renovated and improved park.

Through early planning, continued support and dialogue with community stakeholders, the park is one of the first slated to be redeveloped as soon as funds from the Levy become available in early 2010. Construction is expected to last over a year, due to the projected incorporation of continued community involvement and participation during this phase. The renovation of the park is an opportunity to blend old and new elements, and find new meanings within our vibrant neighborhood.

And what better way to continue the conversation about redeveloping the park than to host a grassroots fundraising campaign? Additional funds will support public art, play equipment, and continued programming for children and families in the park. The fundraising campaign seeks to raise a total of $55,000. You can help by joining the FICP email list or become part of one of the FICP committees, sign up for volunteer match hours, give monetary or in-kind donations, attend our monthly programming events, and most importantly, spread the word about the International Children’s Park!

Help us ‘Bring Children Back to the Children’s Park’ by kicking-off the fundraising campaign on October 2nd from 6-8:30 p.m. in the Children’s Park, located on 7th and Lane Street. The kick-off will be a family-friend celebration honoring the Autumn Moon Festival. For more information on the event or how you can get in our neighborhood’s efforts to ‘Bring the Children Back to Children’s Park,’ please contact [email protected] or call (206) 838-8713.

Previous articleThree Charged in Child Sexual Exploitation in Cambodia
Next articleJN64: Do we Americans hug too much? Vote now!