LYNNWOOD, Wash., May 12, 2022 – After two recent incidences at Lynnwood Parks, including the murder of a 70-year-old man and a woman assaulted by a pellet gun, Lynnwood Times Reporter Kienan Briscoe and Publisher Mario Lotmore conducted a tour of eight of Lynnwood’s most popular parks to evaluate their cleanliness, upkeep, evidence of drug or gang activity, and to interview park goers on their general experience and perceived safety.
Overall, we found that the City of Lynnwood’s parks were mostly well-kept with clean restrooms, minimal litter, and little to no drug paraphernalia. Many of the park goers we interviewed also felt that their experiences were generally favorable. Their overall impression was that they felt safe visiting Lynnwood parks during park hours and the parks’ overall upkeep is satisfactory.
“Safety of our park patrons is our top priority. The parks are visited and cleaned daily by staff. We have staff working in the parks 365 days a year,” Eric Peterson, Parks Superintendent for the City of Lynnwood told the Lynnwood Times.
Parks Superintendent Peterson informed the Times that evidence of drug use has steadily declined since 2018, which was the highest record of retrieved drug paraphernalia. The Department records all paraphernalia discovered during their daily visits. Drug paraphernalia decreased 43% by 2021, the last year recorded, and is on track to continue decreasing once the 2022 report has been released.
The biggest reoccurring issue the Lynnwood Times noticed was graffiti. While evidence of drug use in Lynnwood Parks has been on a steady decline since 2018, graffiti, on the other hand has been increasing.
“We try to remove graffiti within 24 hours of finding it. Sometimes larger areas take additional time for prep and removal or workload,” Peterson said.
It is also worth noting that the Lynnwood Times filed a public records request with the Lynnwood Police Department to retrieve crime data involving violent crimes at all of the parks visited. However, the request came back stating: “Following a reasonable search, the City of Lynnwood found no identifiable records responsive to your request,” signifying the Lynnwood PD does not have records of any reported violent crime taking place within the parks visited from 2019 through 2021.
The following are the findings of the Lynnwood Times’ tour based on criteria observing vandalism/graffiti, restroom and overall park cleanliness, evidence of drug or gang activity (especially adventuring through wooded / obscured areas), and interviewing park goers on their personal experiences.
Heritage Park celebrates the agricultural, transportation, and social heritage of Lynnwood from its roots in the rural community of Alderwood Manor formed in 1919. Heritage Park exhibits tell stories of life in early Alderwood Manor. Historic structures have been renovated and repurposed as community resource facilities. These include the Wickers Building, the Superintendent’s Cottage, Humble House, Water Tower and Interurban Car No. 55.
Beginning in Lynnwood’s historical Heritage Park set a precedent of the great work the Lynnwood Parks Department has been doing to keep Lynnwood’s parks clean and inviting. The restrooms were well kept, the $100,000 playground (funded by the Elizabeth Ruth Wallace Living Trust on the City’s 60th anniversary) was maintained and inviting. As far as we could see, the park was clean and litter-free.
The City of Lynnwood recently held a ribbon cutting ceremony on April 29 to celebrate the restored Heritage Park Water Tower. It is part of the Phase II Improvement Project supported by the Elizabeth Ruth Wallace Living Trust, Lynnwood Parks and Recreation Foundation, Snohomish County Historic Preservation Commission, and the Washington State Historical Society.
Lynndale Park is located north of Lynndale Elementary School in west Lynnwood and is Lynnwood’s largest park. Approximately 22 acres of the park are preserved as native forest. The rest is developed with active recreational uses, including athletic fields and a skate park. The park’s baseball complex is jointly maintained by the City of Lynnwood and Pacific Little League. The park also offers an orienteering course and is a popular venue for summer day camps and scouting programs. An amphitheater sits deep in the forest and features popular summer performances of Shakespeare in the Park.
The Lynnwood Times spoke to Lynnwood resident Olivia who was walking her two dogs. She told the Lynnwood Times that she attends the park daily and feels generally safe even as a woman, at least while accompanied by her dogs. She has noticed some recent noteworthy activity including a homeless man living in a tent in the woods and a car getting broke into near the dog park.
Ron, who was visiting from Ohio and visiting Lynndale Park for the first time, told the Lynnwood Times that his first impression was that it was “impressive” and his favorite part was all of the amenities.
Aside from a small amount of litter, including foil which could or could not have been used for smoking opioids, Lynndale’s facilities were mostly pristine and well kept. The restrooms were clean and the tennis courts and amphitheater maintained.
The skatepark, however, had a myriad of graffiti which the Lynnwood Times could not necessarily identify as gang related.
Meadowdale Park and Athletic Complex
Meadowdale Park is located in Lynnwood’s north Meadowdale neighborhood. This neighborhood park combines active recreation with preservation of the site’s natural beauty. Second growth tree stands were protected, and native plantings replaced invasive species to enhance wildlife habitat. Indigenous boulders and timbers were preserved and used in construction of the restroom building and the public art.
Meadowdale Park was probably the greatest example of the increase in vandalism of which Superintendent Peterson spoke with the restrooms being currently closed due to it.
Peterson said the Parks Department has had a “bout of vandalism over the past six months” where kids have been vandalizing the exterior during the evening and the interior during the day.
“Right now, Meadowdale is a hot spot for vandalism due to its proximity to the school. This year has been exceptionally bad,” Peterson said.
Just a day before the Times conducted our tour, Peterson informed us he had a crew pressure wash and repaint the interior of the bathrooms, which was why it was currently closed. He said around this time of year the Department typically sees an increase in vandalism, but they have been working closely with Lynnwood PD to resolve the issue.
In other parks, Superintendent Peterson and his team have been trying “all kinds of different things” to combat the increase in vandalism, most recently with Interurban Trail’s new mural and South Lynnwood Park’s remodel. Since adding the mural, Peterson said they have seen a decrease in vandalism at Interurban Trail.
Aside from vandalism, Meadowdale Park was noticeably clean with everyone interviewed saying they feel generally safe when they attend it.
Lynnwood resident Summer has been visiting the park on-and-off for about a year. Her favorite thing about the park is the Athletic Complex where her boyfriend can play basketball while she works out on the field.
Pioneer Park is a linear neighborhood park serving as open space between single-family and multi-family housing. The park includes 1.5 acres of forested area to the north, with the rest developed for active recreational use.
Leah, a Lynnwood resident, has lived by Pioneer Park for three years and visits the park every day. She sees a lot of drug activity in the woods, mostly by “young adults in their early 20’s” but hasn’t witnessed, or is aware, of any violent crime. Within the three years she’s lived there, she informed the Lynnwood Times that the drug activity seems to be declining.
The Lynnwood Times explored the wooded area where Leah said she had witnessed “drug activity” but could not find any evidence to Leah’s claim.
Scott, who has lived nearby the park and has frequently visited with his dog for the past ten years, told the Lynnwood Times he feels “very safe” visiting and the only noteworthy behavior he has witnessed was a group of “kids” who drove onto the field and peeled out, damaging the grass.
Spruce Park is located in northeast Lynnwood. Approximately half of the site is forested, and the rest is developed for active recreational use.
The park property was first owned by Congdon family and purchased in 1952 by William R. Marshall and Louise Burnett Marshall. In 1991, the Marshall family sold the property to the City for development of a park in their neighborhood. The park was developed in 1993 and 1994.
Aside from some litter in the woods, including beer bottles, condoms, and foil, and graffiti on some of the park benches, Spruce Park was mostly clean and well kept.
Wilcox Park is Lynnwood’s first park, established in 1962. It is a popular venue for community events. Also known as “Flag Park,” the park displays a historical set of 27 United States flags representing the thirteen colonies and the incorporation of states.
The Lynnwood Times spoke to Lynnwood resident and park goer Shawn who said he has witnessed several homeless people in the park and needles up and down the trails.
“I feel safe, but I wouldn’t bring a kid here,” Shawn told the Lynnwood Times.
The Times visited the sites where Shawn said he saw homeless people and needles but did not find evidence to Shawn’s claim.
Located in south Lynnwood, Gold Park is preserved as forested open space with trails, grassy clearings, and a seasonal stream. The park has a variety of Pacific Northwest plants including ferns, salal, fairybells, trillium, bleeding hearts, and huckleberries surrounding community-built nature trails.
In 1954, Barbara and Morris Gold bought the property and built a 5-bedroom house for their family. Dr. Gold ran an obstetrics practice in the house until 1982. To protect their land from development, the Gold family sold it to the City of Lynnwood in 1997 to preserve the property as a park. The City purchased the land with a Snohomish County Conservation Futures grant. This requires Gold Park to remain a passive park with no active recreational uses.
Out of all of the parks visited, Gold Park seemed to be the least loved and maintained. Immediately stepping out into the parking lot, litter can be seen strewn across the grass and graffiti defaces plaques that educate trailblazers of the rich diverse plant and tree life.
While walking the trails, evidence of alcohol and drug use can be found from beer bottles, canisters of marijuana joints, and even hypodermic needles and burnt foil. Although needles could be used for prescription drugs such as insulin, their juxtaposition to burnt foil most likely indicates a presence of opioid use since foil is used to cook heroin, oxycontin, or other opioids. While burnt foil was a common littered item found through the Time’s parks tour, Gold Park was the only park where needles were found.
According to Verdant Health, opioid use in Snohomish County has risen 20% to 30% since 2020. In 2020 alone, 525 people died from opioid use in the county, the second highest county in Washington for opioid deaths.
In 2020, the Lynnwood PD reported 808 drug-related crimes, a 13.5 percent drop from 2019. Of all recorded drug offenses in Lynnwood, opioids make up 34 percent – the largest percentage of drug types reported.
While no evidence of homeless were spotted (tents, settlements, etc.), the Times did find what appeared to be the site of a bonfire with human feces in the woods close by. There are no restrooms at Gold Park.
Parks Superintendent Peterson informed the Lynnwood Times that the Department spends a great deal of time at Gold Park in comparison to the other parks because of the issues mentioned.
“The area would decline quickly without our staff’s constant patrolling and cleanup. Last week, we added a perimeter fence to help protect the environmentally sensitive areas by reducing foot traffic and overnight camping,” Peterson said. “We work closely with the Police Department to keep the park free of drug use, overnight camping, and other code violations.”
Edmonds Community College acts as partner with Lynnwood Parks and has worked to restore the natural areas by planting native flora. They host two annual clean-up events at Gold Park—Earth Day And National Public Lands Day—a year.
“This urban park has a beautiful forest and offers an oasis from the busy 99 corridor,” Peterson said. “The area has its challenges, and we will do what we can to keep it safe and accessible to all.”
Daleway Park is located in a west Lynnwood neighborhood and has a skate park, large active play areas, a basketball court, and picnic facilities. The east side of the park is forested and includes a neighborhood trail connection to 60th Avenue West.
A man was found dead in a car Tuesday, April 9, at the park, on 64th Avenue West, following a report of several gunshots.
The Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed the victim as 70-year-old Lynnwood resident Carl W. Bridgmon. The manner of death was ruled a homicide.
According to a statement released by the family, Bridgmon loved to sit and have his coffee at the park several times a week. The family is distraught over this “senseless” tragedy. Bridgmon was caught in the crossfire between two groups of individuals and tragically murdered.
Scriber Creek / Lake Park
Scriber Lake Park is a quiet natural refuge in the center of Lynnwood. Scriber Lake and its associated wetlands are located within this urban forest. The lake provides important habitat for fish, waterfowl, songbirds and small mammals. It is also regulated as a stormwater holding facility.
On April 19, Congressman Rick Larsen visited Scriber Creek Trail with Governor Jay Inslee, Mayor Christine Frizzell and City of Lynnwood officials to discuss the implementation of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act in which $1 million was secured to go toward Lynnwood’s Scriber Creek.
Rep. Larsen secured the funds for the Scriber Creek Trail redevelopment project in the bipartisan Fiscal Year 2022 spending package which the City of Lynnwood plans to use to redevelop the trail corridor into a 16-foot wide, ADA-accessible trail with durable, slip-resistant hard surfaces. Where crossing Scriber Creek and associated wetlands, the trail will be constructed on elevated bridge/boardwalk structures.
Parks not included in tour
The Lynnwood Times did not visit the following parks registered in the city of Lynnwood as a Parks, Trail, or Open Space:
- Maple Mini Park
- Mesika Trail
- North Lynnwood Park
- South Lynnwood Park
- Sprague’s Pond Mini Park
- Stadler Ridge Park
- Veteran’s Park
- Gold Course and Golf Course Trail
- Interurban Trail
- Lund’s Gulch