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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

September 8, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Seattle Center parking: Should a memorial get in the way of handicap access?

Loss of handicapped parking irrelevant in long run

The Seattle Times story regarding the Seattle Center’s apparent disregard for disabled citizens [“Theatergoers protest plan to move disabled parking,” NWTuesday, Sept. 1] failed to put the whole situation in perspective.

Part of the Seattle Center’s Century 21 Master Plan calls for the creation of new underground parking beneath a completely transformed and revitalized Memorial Stadium area. This will eventually render the Mercer parking garage itself obsolete and allow easier access to the entire center for all patrons, including the disabled.

Unfortunately, due to the rush order put on the Peter Donnelly Memorial Garden grant, all people see currently is the elimination of 13 handicapped stalls in favor of an ostensibly meager mini-park.

The master plan, however, provides a much more cohesive, awe-inspiring vision for the future of the Seattle Center. I urge anyone interested or concerned to check it out at seattlecenter.com.

— Christian Nelson, Seattle

In remembering benefactor to arts, protect access for all

The best way to memorialize Peter Donnelly is to remain dedicated to providing equal access to the arts at Seattle Center. The very idea that it would be OK to relocate handicapped parking spaces further away from the venues they serve calls into question the Seattle Center’s commitment to accessibility.

Patrons of the Seattle Repertory Theatre, Seattle Opera, Intiman Theatre and Seattle Center have already expressed strong objections to the options being proposed. The upcoming years of construction on Mercer Street cannot be ignored.

For example, would that proposed drop-off area even continue to be available? What of the path between the garage and the center grounds? Construction will surely bring changing — and inaccessible — pedestrian routes. As already-scarce parking becomes nonexistent, maintaining dedicated handicapped parking spaces should be the center’s overriding priority.

Surely there is a rational argument to be made that accessibility for citizens is a better use for precious space than landscaping — however well-intentioned the memorial garden might be.

I do not presume to speak for the man who epitomized an individual’s commitment to bring the arts to all in our community, but I cannot believe Donnelly would approve.

— Deborah Witmer, Seattle

Makeshift handicapped parking just doesn’t cut it

Peter Donnelly was a champion of theater in Seattle, and I hardly think he would have wanted to hinder patrons’ access to Seattle Center venues.

Isn’t there another spot on the grounds for a memorial garden? The handicapped parking must stay, based on the comments of theater patrons quoted in the article.

Spaces in the garage across the street are not acceptable. There is a place for people to be dropped off, but what if the driver is the handicapped person who needs to park and attend the theater?

— MaryAnne Seibert, Seattle

Comments | More in Disabilities, Museums, parking, Parks, Pedestrians, Seattle, Transportation

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