Ride the Ducks are out – an expanded park is in

It happened ever so quietly after years of acrimonious debate and neighborhood lawsuits. Rather than build a private boat ramp next to Terry Pettus street-end park in Eastlake, Ride the Ducks sold its property to neighboring U.S. Seafood this year, who in turn is selling a portion, as planned, to the City of Seattle Parks and Recreation Department. The sale to the city will nearly double the Terry Pettus street-end park’s size and will double the shoreline access. Expanding the park has been a neighborhood and Parks Department goal for over a decade.

According to Chip Nevins of the Department of Parks and Recreation, who presented the acquisition legislation to the Civic Development, Public Assets, Native Communities Committee meeting Wednesday, Dec. 4, the Parks Department tried to buy the adjacent property in 2006 and 2008. NOAH, a tenant, vacated the space in 2010, and Ride the Ducks bought the property in 2012. But there was little support for a Ride the Ducks operation in Eastlake.

The neighboring Floating Homes Association, Eastlake Community Council and the Log Foundation took Ride the Ducks to court in 2015, gaining only minor concessions on reduced noise through the area.

But other forces were also at work, as the legislative action noted, “Due to recent liabilities related to the crash on the Aurora Bridge, Ride the Ducks decided to sell the property.”

U.S. Seafood and the city worked together to acquire the property.

“It’s really a great win-win for both the business community and the neighborhood,” said Nevins, who has also been working on preliminary design concepts with neighborhood groups for redeveloping the current park and now adding to it.  With more public meetings to come, the design will be finalized so that cost estimates can be included in the city’s next six-year budget cycle.  Construction of the park is expected to begin in 2021.

“Increased park space in urban village areas and public access to bodies of water are a priority in our public space acquisition strategy,” said Christopher William, Deputy Superintendent.  Alex Pedersen, District 4, City Council Representative joined the committee for this action and noted, “The unity around this project is amazing. I heard a lot about it over the last year or two. People are very excited.”

The Civic Development, Public Assets, Native Communities Committee will be recommending approval of this acquisition legislation to the full City Council on Monday; it’s expected to sail through.

The Committee meeting can be viewed on the Seattle Channel with the Terry Pettus action at about the 50-minute mark.

Featured sketch of Terry Pettus street-end park by Karen Berry.