Flo Ware Park
28th & S. Jackson, Seattle WA

Article on the Rededication of Flo Ware Park
By Diane Solvang-Angell

Saturday, May 8th, 1pm-5pm
Program from 1pm to 2pm
Rededication of Flo Ware Park

Mark your calendars and bring your family for fun and food, Saturday, May 8th.  Starting at 1:00 P.M. the Leschi community will gather at 28th S. and S. Jackson to cut a ribbon and rededicate newly renovated Flo Ware Park. 

King County Councilman Larry Gossett will be on hand as Master of Ceremonies and the twenty-four young Coyote artists who created the park’s grand new entryway will take their bows.

You may have noticed that a long-neglected corner of the Central District has come back to life. For a number of years the mini-park on 28th and Jackson languished in disrepair. Neighbors avoided it.  Broken glass and occasional drug needles littered the sand beneath the rusting play equipment. Cracked concrete paths were dangerous for senior citizens.  And there were no barriers to keep basketballs from rolling into the street.

This past September new construction began at the park.  It happened because a community came together to plan and fundraise for renewal of the park.  The result is a happy space for neighborhood families and the rescue of a community legacy.  

The park is named in honor of Florestine (Flo) Ware, an African-American woman who fought to bring social justice to the community. She was a tireless crusader on behalf of the underprivileged, the poor and the elderly. She worked unceasingly to improve academic performance in the Central Area public schools.  Over the years she helped many foster children.

Through her 1960’s KRAB Radio talk show, “What’s Coming Down,” she brought attention to community needs. She aggressively advocated for Meals on Wheels.  As a result of her persuasive campaigning, the city purchased property for the Central Area Senior Center.

Many felt it was a shame that a deteriorating park represented her legacy. In the fall of 2000 the Leschi Community Council decided to do something about it.  They launched a community effort to restore the park to a safe place where families would feel welcome.

Starting from scratch, Thurston Muskelly, president of Leschi Community Council, asked John Barber, chair of Leschi Parks and Green Space Committee, to look into the park’s problems.

After a community meeting at which neighbors voiced their concerns about the park, an initial small group of community volunteers, along with Barber, a veteran activist of environmental projects obtained a “Small and Simple Grant” from the city to hire a landscape architect.  The group eventually commissioned Barker Associates Landscape Architects to draw up initial plans for the park. Then Friends of Flo Ware Park reached out to the community in a series of planning meetings. More than 200 residents took part.

“We started with a blank slate,” said Barber.  “The landscape architects asked participants for their ideas of what they wanted in the park. In small groups people did paper cutouts of park features.  Each group laid out a version of the park they envisioned.  From those visions the architects developed alternate designs that the community voted on.  The resulting design was put to discussion and presented to the Seattle Parks Department for final approval. Barker’s landscape plan became the basis for fundraising, and estimating the renovation cost of approximately $500,000.”

The Barker design included a colored concrete ribbon with the words and deeds of Flo Ware embedded in its path.

Soon more Leschi residents joined the park effort, including Kimberly Bowen of Bowen Consulting, who served as fundraising chairman. Each volunteer who joined the planning committee brought a different strength that complemented the group.  Diane Solvang-Angell, an arts educator, served as art chairman.  Throughout the project, Cynthia Davenport, Christine Matthews, Peggy Herman, Mark Tapia and Tonna Kutner also shared expertise in key steering roles. Kutner’s firm, Computer Lynx, provided the park’s website (flowarepark.org) to track restoration progress and post research on Flo Ware.

Funds for the park’s renovation came from city, county, corporate and foundation grants, as well as neighborhood donations.  Grant writing activity for the park took place during a time when Department of Neighborhood Matching Funds, Pro Parks Levy Opportunity Fund and King County’s Youth Sports Facilities Grant programs were available as resources.  In addition, Leschi community residents and merchants enthusiastically supported the project with volunteer labor and in-kind donations. Through private and public fundraising events, rummage sales, raffle tickets, and redemptions from Red Apple grocery receipts, the $500,000 needed to renovate the park was eventually raised.

Anticipating last fall’s construction, the responsibility for the final landscape design was transferred to the Seattle Parks Department.  Landscape architects Randy Robinson and Shwu-jen Hwang presented final plans at Leschi community meetings held at the Central Area Senior Center. Neighbors engaged in lively discussions to consider types of play equipment, colors, public art, the size of the basketball court, and the inspiring quotations of Flo Ware planned for the meandering ribbon-path. The community’s enthusiasm for the project was evident in the large attendance at the meetings.

The Seattle Design Commission gave the park’s design their enthusiastic endorsement.

Drive by the park today and you’ll notice an inviting open space with colorful play equipment and a new basketball court.  There are tables for chess tournaments and picnics.  You’ll also see the grand new entryway--a boldly designed colonnade that pays tribute to the many cultures that make up the Central Area.  A portrait of Flo Ware is featured in its archway. 

This unique public art piece was created by Coyote, a community non-profit arts and enrichment program for junior-high youth.  Twenty-four 12 to 15 year-olds and six professional artists collaborated to design and build the entryway as part of Hit the Streets, Coyote's annual summer work program for neighborhood youth. 

“I think the park is an amazing collaboration with lots of talented and perservering community folks.  All you need to do is go by the park and see what a remarkable success it is by how it’s being used,” says Marybeth Satterlee, Executive Director of Coyote.

In addition to Coyote’s entry artwork, the community is looking forward to adding more art.  Local artist Monad Elohim proposed a sculpture of Flo Ware and a set of bronze plaques for the park’s seating wall.

So join the May 8th celebration!  Come and see the park. Walk the ribbon quotes, and enjoy this sparkling new gathering space as a tribute to Flo Ware and her admonitions: “Get Involved” and “Build Community.”

Back to the Top


About Flo Ware
Why Rebuild?
How You can Help
New Park Design


Contact us:  info@FloWarePark.org

Friends of Flo Ware Park - www.FloWarePark.org
P.O. Box 22391
Seattle, WA 98122-0319


Last modified: May 04, 2004
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