Seattle's City Hall Park remains closed after costly damage from homeless encampment

The city originally said that the park would be closed for 2-3 months, but more than seven months later, the park remains fenced off and closed.

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Ari Hoffman Seattle WA
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Since last August, Courthouse Park, also known as City Hall Park in Seattle has remained closed following the clearing of a notorious homeless encampment whose occupants were responsible for multiple violent crimes.

The city originally said that the park would be closed for 2-3 months, but more than seven months later, the park remains fenced off and closed. On Monday, Seattle Parks and Rec. told The Post Millennial, that the re-opening was being delayed another 60 days due to "seeding" and "rat abatement." However, the park is overgrown and no work has been seen at the property for weeks.

Seattle Parks and Rec. communications manager Rachel Schulkin said City Hall Park would remain "…closed to the public at least through April 5. As we approach that date we will determine if an extension is needed. We have been doing restoration to the park, and will continue into the spring." It is still closed.

In a follow up exchange, The Post Millennial learned that the damage to the park was extensive and costly to repair. According to Schulkin, repairs included; rodent abatement and ongoing rodent control, replacing an electrical cabinet, pressure washing sidewalks, grading soil, hyrdroseeding to replace grass, and tree trimming as well as leaf and litter removal.

The city spent the restoration time working with Seattle City Light to improve electrical service to park and re-orienting installed fencing to create a bike lane for 3/4 of a block through the park along Dilling Way.

The work itself cost taxpayers over $33,000 dollars, which included more than $13,000 of electrical work, $3,000 for fencing and $2,000 for security.

However according to Schulkin, "…there is a lot of other work overlapping (like the daily regular trash and grounds maintenance to the park that isn’t related to the restoration work). So I’d consider what I provided a snapshot of some of the costs incurred in the restoration of City Hall Park, there is likely more than this but its not easily untangled from other work."

Due to the proximity to the King County Courthouse next door King County Sheriff’s deputies have a constant presence.

Throughout the seven-month restoration, more vandalism to the site has occurred as many former residents of the encampment did not go far and set up tents on nearby streets. Some even came back and pitched tents next to the fencing for several days before being removed. Most made their new home under a nearby overpass for months before that eventually was cleared as well.

Neighbors of the park told The Post Millennial that they have not seen any work being done in months even though the fencing has remained. One neighbor said, "I see the same people around that were in the encampment. All they did was set up camp a block away. I think the city has left the fences up because they are afraid that if they take them down the campers will come back."

The Post Millennial previously reported that due to violence in the encampment, the Seattle Police Department implemented new policies where officers would be required to assist Seattle Fire with a Rescue Task Force when life-threatening emergencies happened within the park.

The crime got so bad that employees at the Courthouse marched in protest of the encampment and the city's refusal to address their safety concerns. Workers at the Courthouse were repeatedly attacked by those living in the encampment. The situation came to a tragic climax after a female employee was attacked and sexually assaulted by a homeless, prolific offender inside the bathroom at the Courthouse.

The encampment was a hotspot for homicides, shootings, stabbings, and assaults. In May 2021, a homeless man with multiple prior arrests kicked a 67-year-old man's dog to death during an attempted robbery in the park. The man was released from jail on his own recognizance the next day due to Seattle's criminal justice policies.

In December, having lost confidence in Seattle officials’ ability to safely operate the park, the King County Council approved a deal that would transfer the park to the county. However, the park has since remained under Seattle's control.

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