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Life and Times in Leschi: Frink Park, Part 4

For over 25 years, Darrell Howe and Darcy Thompson have been restoring and maintaining Frink and Upper Leschi Parks. Together they have donated thousands of hours on their own and helped organize thousands more hours from other volunteers. They were recognized in 2011 with the Seattle Parks and Recreation Department’s 2011 Denny Awards for Outstanding Volunteer Stewardship, for helping to successfully restore about half of the park’s acreage by removing invasive species and replanting with native ones. Additionally, they helped restore and protect Frink Creek and the half dozen wetlands and seeps that dot the park.

They also obtained funding for park maintenance and restoration projects, including:

  • In 2007 the Green Seattle Partnership funded a project to remove invasive plants, including ivy, and plant native species.

  • In 2011, EarthCorps crews were funded to improve trail sections in the northern part of the park, improving trail stability and protecting against erosion. One section of trail was relocated from a boggy area to drier ground, with invasive vegetation removed.

  • In 2014 the King County Conservation District funded the restoration of two degraded wetlands and their buffers in partnership with the Friends of Frink Park to reduce invasive species and increase native plant and wildlife habitat.

To get involved with Frink Park preservation efforts, go to

Where, actually, is Frink Park? Some of its boundaries are pretty clear, since it bumps up against streets and residences. King Street (mostly stairway) and 31st Avenue South are evident. But many people, including me, probably assumed that once you are going down Washington Street from 32nd, you have entered Frink. Wrong! You have entered Upper Leschi Park, which is managed by the city in the same way as Frink – that is, basically wild and undeveloped, with a few primitive trails. Upper Leschi Park is that part of Leschi Park lying west of Lake Washington Boulevard South.

Continuing east on Washington Street, you come to a curve, where a street sign indicates the beginning of Frink Place.

As the road briefly straightens out again, there is a small meadow on the left, and a footpath on the right. That footpath is within Frink Park.

The meadow across the street, on the left, is mostly in Leschi Park. The trail descending from the meadow to the left takes you through Leschi Park. It later forks, bringing you either to the south side of the tennis courts or to the lowest remnants of Yesler Way. The trail from the meadow to the right goes down through Frink Park to the remnants of the old caretaker’s cottage. The abandoned ruins were sometimes a site for graffiti and Garfield High School student beer parties. Lately the place looks fairly clean.

Now head back up to 32nd and Washington. This time, go south on 32nd to the dead end. There you’ll find paths into Frink Park. The Main Street right-of-way right there, but not evident, but there is a small park boundary sign where the foliage begins. Parks Department maps show the entire Main Street right-of-way as within the park boundary. Continuing on the paths will keep you in Frink.

Now, let’s look at the parks from the east, along Lake Washington Boulevard South. The dividing line between Leschi and Frink is Main Street, which not only is not very main, but in this area only exists on maps. Walking south from the tennis courts, you are bisecting Leschi Park, between Lower and Upper. After rounding the big curve, you’ll eventually come to a row of houses on the left. Looking down the hill, there are three houses below, on 35th Avenue South. Align yourself with the north end of the northernmost and you have found the notional Main Street. A straight line from there to the west defines the boundary between Leschi and Frink parks.

South of the King Street stairway, lying to the east of Lake Washington Boulevard, there’s a triangle of land purchased by the city’s park fund in 1908. At one time, much of it was the clay tennis court described here last month. Now it’s rugged woods. It narrows as it goes south, ending at Lane Street.

~Roger Lippman

The author writes monthly about Leschi history and his experiences over his 48 years in the neighborhood.


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