seattle waterfront

Photo: Tiffany Von Arnim/Flickr

The fate of Seattle’s waterfront will soon be in the hands of voters. On August 2nd, city residents will vote on Initiative 123, a proposed elevated park that would run along the path of the existing Alaskan Way Viaduct between Pike Place Market and CenturyLink Field. Supporters of I-123 argue that the view from an elevated Highline-style park would be better for locals and tourists than the street-level promenade park proposed by the City of Seattle’s Office of the Waterfront.

Billionaire real estate developer Martin Selig gave supporters of the elevated park around $244,500 last year for engineering studies and to petition for I-123 to go on the ballot, reports PSBJ. However, he changed his mind when a feasibility study determined that creating the elevated park would require an expensive retrofit for the viaduct path. Selig doesn’t support the new plan to use only a portion of the viaduct path, and is now putting money — $5,000 so far — toward the promenade park instead.

It is important to note that around $45 million in public funds has already been spent on planning the promenade park, per PSBJ. In fact, some parts of the promenade park are currently under construction, though the majority of the project is to be built after the viaduct is replaced by a tunnel (thanks Bertha!).

The city’s promenade park proposal is expected to cost the public a total of $709 million. Kate Martin, the citizen activist behind the elevated park, says its price tag would be comparable.

To learn more about the two park proposals, you can attend Southwest District Council I-123 presentations by “yes” and “no” campaigns on July 6th at 6:30am at West Seattle Senior Center or read more from both sides here.

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