Great Places Program – On Hold

By Bob Bengford, AICP

The Great Places program will be coming back in 2022 

We’ve all come to realize the heightened value of outdoor public spaces in this pandemic, particularly in the more heavily urbanized neighborhoods. Residents without access to private yards have flocked to parks and other public spaces for fresh air, recreation, and much-needed distanced socializing. City streets are finally being realized for their value as public space, serving as a lifeline to struggling restaurants using sidewalks and parking spaces for outdoor dining. With warmer weather arriving and vaccinated numbers increasing, Washington residents are eager to enjoy these spaces even more - in groups and without social distancing.

Having said that – the Washington Great Places Committee decided to hold off for another year facilitating the awards program. First, the pandemic has impacted committee members’ schedules in unpredictable ways. Second, we anticipate that communities are preoccupied with other issues right now and applying for such awards program currently may not be high on their list. And on a personal note, having adopted a baby girl last January, I’ve been very busy “working” from home! On that note, I’m discovering parks and public spaces in a much different way now and even more appreciative of their offerings!

Next year we will bring back the program and will decide the particular awards type. Here’s a listing of the awards programs we’ve completed thus far:

2017 – Great Neighborhoods
2018 – Great Gathering Spaces
2019 – Great Streets

All ideas for next year’s program are welcome! Each year we decide on the type of great places to award. One consideration for 2022 is to award communities, gathering spaces, or streets for their unique approach and value during the pandemic……and beyond.

Email any ideas or suggestions for awards to [email protected].

Volunteer Park in Seattle has been a great resource for Capitol Hill and Seattle residents during the pandemic.

The large white street dining tents on Snohomish’ First Street have been a lifeline to the street’s restaurants during the pandemic.