Everyone complains about the lack of parks downtown. Where can you go to kick a soccer ball around, swing a tennis racket, or push your stroller to watch your kid play in a sandbox? There's a reason Seattle ranks so low in children-per-capita (third in the nation, last time I checked). Young families, squeezed by real-estate prices, tend to decamp for Shoreline, North Bend, and Monroe to afford a house with a yard. But, even assuming you've got a lot of money--which tends to characterize most downtown residents these days--there's not even so much as a putting range where you can practice with your gold-plated clubs. At the same time, since the demise of the Summer Concerts on the Pier series, the downtown park comprised of Pier 62 and 63 has basically been sitting empty. No one seems to know what to do with the expanse. (The city Web site admits, “The piers are aged and deteriorating, and can no longer bear the load of heavy weights.”) Its most recent use was as a staging area for construction materials for the expanded Seattle Aquarium. On a recent sunny afternoon (today, in fact) despite all the tourists walking past, hardly any ventured out on the creosote-smelling timbers. A couple of guys were fishing, and a dozen-odd street denizens were lounging there--and, to judge from some furtive behavior, also using.
So here's my modest proposal: For a few bucks, put down Astroturf on the thing. Make it into a temporary green exercise field for the next few years of Viaduct/waterfront uncertainty. Buy used Astroturf from one of those stadiums, like the Kingdome, being torn down for luxurious replacements. The resulting park could easily fit one soccer pitch, probably a baseball diamond, and certainly several tennis courts. Erect some low netting to keep the errant balls in play, and declare the whole thing a playground. I'm not saying it'll bring more middle-class families back downtown, but it just might make downtown feel a little more friendly to families and anybody else who wants to stretch their legs.
Or, what would you like to see done with the empty timbers?