Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Hazel Heights P-Patch History

Fremont's newest public green space is the result of extensive community collaboration.

Hazel and Don Hurlbert lived for nearly 50 years at 4204 Baker Avenue NW on the west side of Seattle's Fremont neighborhood. Don worked at Seattle's Washington Park Arboretum and was a proficient beekeeper. The Hurlberts gardened on the extra lot between their house and NW 42nd Street. The p-patch is named in honor of Hazel Hurlbert.

When Hazel Hurlbert died in 2003, nephew Tom Hurlbert generously held the house and extra lot off the market long enough for the neighborhood to organize its purchase, and to secure the vacant lot for future use as a community garden.

Fremont is Seattle's ninth mostly densely populated neighborhood and there has been no community garden to serve the area west of Fremont Avenue.

Former Fremont Neighborhood Council president Beckey Sukovaty had worked with the City of Seattle for years to identify suitable p-patch sites in Fremont and approached every source she could think of about this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

In 2003, Beckey and other neighbors collaborated with Jack Tomkinson of Urban Sparks, an anonymous donor, P-Patch Trust and Seattle's Department of Neighborhoods to purchase and preserve the vacant lot at 4200 Baker Ave NW. The land is now owned by P-Patch Trust and a conservation easement was recorded guaranteeing that the site will be used for "community garden and open space in perpetuity."

The Hurlbert's house at 4204 Baker Ave NW was purchased by lifelong Seattle resident Pete Hanning, who is a strong supporter of the adjacent community garden

A new steering committee, ably led by David Clarridge, obtained a $100,000 Neighborhood Matching Fund grant, and we were off on the dollar chase. Due to the steep slope this is the only Seattle p-patch to date to require a SEPA review and master use permit, so the cost of construction is higher than a typical community garden. Midway through the project, Dave was taken from us by cancer. A memorial will be established at the garden.

To promote environmental sustainability, Hazel Heights P-Patch will have an 8,000 gallon cistern under the central plaza, fed by rainwater catchment from two neighbors' roofs. The rainwater system and improved alley will reduce stormwater runoff.

Contributing to Seattle's food security is a major aim of the project. One of the nineteen garden plots, plus on-site fruit trees, will be maintained by volunteers to provide fresh produce for local food banks.

We are grateful for the significant funding and support provided by:

  • The anonymous donor who made possible the acquisition of the P-Patch site
  • Jack Tomkinson and Urban Sparks
  • City of Seattle Department of Neighborhoods, Department of Transportation and P-Patch Program

  • Seattle City Council, particularly Councilmembers Jean Godden and Richard Conlin

  • Family and friends of David Clarridge

  • Dan Mageau (Geoengineers), Frank Shields (Excavators Northwest), John Bjorkman (K&L Gates)

  • Fremont Neighborhood Council and Fremont Neighborhood Fund

  • Hurlbert family members
  • King County Council, particularly Councilmember Larry Phillips

  • King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks

  • Norcliffe Foundation, The Seattle Foundation, Ferguson Foundation, Starbucks Coffee Company

  • P-Patch Trust

  • State of Washington Legislature, particularly Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles and Representative Mary Lou Dickerson

  • Groundswell NW

  • Everyone who voted for the 2008 Seattle Parks and Green Space Levy

  • Countless grass roots supporters.

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