“Where’s the Beach?” is a slogan used by community organizers to highlight the irony of Rainier Beach lacking safe and welcoming beach access and the inequity this represents. In other Seattle neighborhoods along Lake Washington, residents enjoy long stretches of accessible public shoreline, while people living in Rainier Beach have very little public access to the water for recreation.
Be’er Sheva Park, the South Seattle neighborhood’s premier public waterfront access location, will be getting a makeover, thanks to the efforts of the Rainier Beach Link to Lake group. The volunteer-led group has worked since 2016 to engage the Rainier Beach community and collect feedback for how to improve the park, create a comprehensive design plan implementing the ideas, organize volunteer-led fundraising events, and successfully apply for grants that can finance the work.
“I just wake up and smile sometimes because I know it’s really going to happen,” said Ashley Townes, who’s a part of Link to Lake’s steering committee and is pursuing a Ph.D. at the University of Washington’s School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences. “We’re really, really going to improve the beach. And one day, we can really answer our own slogan, and we can say that the beach is over there. It’s for humans and it’s for wildlife that we want to return because they’re definitely being impacted by us.”