Parks department pulls plan for zip line at Lincoln Park
Intense opposition from community members prompted the Seattle Parks and Recreation Department to drop a proposal to build a zip-line course in West Seattle's Lincoln Park.
Seattle Times staff reporter
The Seattle Parks and Recreations Department scrapped plans Wednesday to develop a private zip-line attraction in West Seattle's Lincoln Park following an outpouring of opposition from local community members who called the for-profit attraction a bad fit for the forested park.
Acting Parks Superintendent Christopher Williams made the announcement the day after 250 people packed a town-hall meeting held by the Fauntleroy Community Association, with most people opposing the proposal for a 5- to 6-acre ropes course and zip-line attraction in the park.
"We listened to the community, and though there is demand for this emerging form of recreation, there are some who clearly do not support it at this location," said Williams.
Since last August, the city has been developing a proposal to have the Maryland-based company Go Ape build and operate the course, with the city getting a slice of the profit.
Cities around the country are looking for new ways to raise revenue for parks.
The company operates three other treetop attractions in the country, all on public land with a portion of the revenue going to the local municipalities. There are also 28 Go Ape attractions in the United Kingdom.
Williams and Go Ape have not yet decided whether to proceed with a ropes-course proposal at another site, said parks spokeswoman Dewey Potter.
But Go Ape's Dan D'Agostino said the company remains proud of its record on environmental sustainability and park stewardship, and the community benefits that its programs provide.
Since news of the proposal went public two weeks ago, legions of park-goers and neighbors began organizing on Facebook to stop the proposal. Many were concerned that a zip-line course in the trees above the park would hurt dozens of species of birds that inhabit the park.
The news came as a relief to Mark Ahlness, a retired teacher who frequents the park with his wife and attended Tuesday's town hall.
"I am extremely happy," he said. "We see it as an urban sanctuary and there are very few of those left in our city."
The proposal galvanized the neighborhood in a way nothing has in a long time, said Trileigh Tucker, an associate professor of environmental studies at Seattle University. Many in the community knew the parks department was facing budget cuts, but few realized how those reductions could affect local parks.
"This (community response) inspires people to think of creative ways to work with each other and the city to see how we can help preserve and protect our parks." she said.
Javier Panzar: 206-464-2253 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On twitter @jpanzar