Archive for viretta park

The Viretta Park Repair Shut Down by City of Seattle

Posted in Blogging, Check It Out, Crime, Environment with tags , , on March 13, 2011 by taraden

Press Release: The Viretta Park Repair Project shut down by The City of Seattle, The Seattle Parks Department, The Green Seattle Partnership (GSP), and the neighbors of Viretta Park
The Viretta Park Repair Project (VPR) looks to restore and ecologically repair Seattle’s Viretta Park.  The project also looks at collecting ideas to create a small memorial for Nirvana singer/songwriter, Kurt Cobain.
Initially the project was given a green light by the city of Seattle, Seattle Parks Department and the Green Seattle Partnership to remove the invasive species that were taking over areas of the park and to gather ideas on what volunteer’s and neighbors would like to see happen at Viretta Park.
We held our first work party on February 20th, 2011 and had various local media outlets attend to cover the event.  Fifteen volunteers, including families and children were present that day and all together the volunteers logged a total of 41.5 unpaid hours.  We got an amazing amount of work done that day.  We stuck exactly to the guidelines that the city and GSP had laid out and the only work done that day was the removal of approved invasive species such as clematis, blackberry and ivy.  The Parks Department and GSP were willing volunteers of the work party as they provided all of the tools and provided clean up for the project.
Currently the Seattle Parks Department is experiencing massive budget cuts and conducting massive employee layoffs.  So why has a volunteer project such as this one been shut down? In the 4 hours that volunteers were present at Viretta Park on February 20, 2011 we logged in as many hours as one park employee would work in a full week!  Why is the Seattle Parks Department turning away volunteer work at a time when they are faced with such significant cutbacks?
Although neighbours who live in the area of Viretta park seem to be quite protective of this park, not one neighbor came to help with the invasive species clean up effort on February 20th, although signs were posted in the park 5 days prior to the event.  The VPR has always stated that we encourage neighborhood involvement and we looked forward to collaborating with neighbors on what type of ecological restoration they would like to see done.  We never even had the opportunity to meet with the parks department and neighbors to share ideas and discuss what everyone would like to see happen at Viretta Park before this project was shut down.
One or more neighbors has strongly voiced that they are opposed to the project and went as far as to send the VPR a threatening email.  We feel the only reason why this project has become such an issue is because the project and park are associated with Kurt Cobain.  The neighbors have been actively voicing their opinions on how they “disliked” Kurt and on the “type” of people who visit the park to honor him.  Stereotyping all fans who visit the park as “riff raff” or “druggies” is simply not morally or ethically correct.  I have visited Viretta Park many times.  I do not use illegal drugs nor do i think that I should be classed as “riff raff”.
This project has never been solely about Kurt Cobain.  It is about coming together as equal human beings to make a park a better place for ALL who use it.  Yes, fans of Kurt Cobain visit the park.  They will continue to do so regardless if this project is shut down or not.  The neighbors are not going to make them “go away” and stop them from coming to the park.  Viretta Park is a PUBLIC park.  Not PRIVATE property.
We have also heard a rumor that a neighbor in the Viretta Park neighborhood has contacted the city of Seattle claiming that a statue was erected in the park and that illegal work parties were being held.  Neither is true.  If you go to Viretta Park, there is no statue.  In fact, a statue wasn’t even something that the VPR would have even considered as a memorial as we do not feel that would be a good “fit” for the park.  We also have only performed one work party, which we had city and parks approval.  We do not know exactly what was said to the city regarding the “ghost statue” and “illegal work” but we will file a motion with the city through the public disclosure process.
A “city employee” was involved in the initial organization of the project.  He has interests in permaculture and was involved mainly because of the repair and restoration component of the project.  This employee was told by the parks department that he should take the necessary training and after he did so, was told by the parks department that he could start volunteering his personal time in the park, removing invasives.  Now he has been asked to resign from the project and has been told not to volunteer his time cleaning up at Viretta Park. Are city employee’s not allowed to volunteer during their own personal time?  This “city employee’s” job is now in danger due to the fact that he was interested in making Viretta Park a better place for everyone and collect ideas from ALL involved.  This includes the City of Seattle, The Seattle Parks Department, The Green Seattle Partnership, neighbors of Viretta Park AND the Nirvana/Kurt Cobain fans who frequent the park.  And HERE is where we find the problem and the controversy lies.
Is it the fact that this employee was not only trying to work with the City of Seattle, parks, GSP, neighbors  but ALSO with Nirvana/Kurt Cobain supporters that we are having the shut down issue?  The same people who the neighbors have stereotyped as “riff raff” in their exclusive Seattle neighborhood?  The fact that this project is at all associated with Kurt Cobain IS the reason why neighbors and the parks department have had this project shut down. 
The park is ALREADY associated with Kurt Cobain and has been since April 8th, 1994 and it will continue to be associated with him for years to come.  Kurt Cobain had a massive impact on the local Seattle music scene as well as the worldwide music scene and was a talented musician.  He is still greatly loved and respected all around the world.
We are not going to give up and just walk away from this project.  The VPR is considering holding a “group event” touring local Kurt Cobain sites on April 5th, 2011 in lieu of the now cancelled work party that we were to hold on that date.  We are wanting to connect with other supporters of this project.  People interested should visit our wiki page or our facebook page for updates on this group event.