SEATTLE, WA – For the past 30 years, Tom Scherer has worked in Downtown Seattle. The past six years he has worked in an office overlooking Westlake Park, an area he was once reluctant to hang around.

“Pioneer Square has their own issues, Westlake has issues. Some of the drug dealers that were here have moved a little bit north, or a little bit west,” Scherer says. What changed? Scherer says the opening of a playground for children and picnic tables changed the perception and use of Westlake Park.

“If you’re doing illegal activity, you don’t really want an audience,” Scherer says. “There’s a lot more people in the park year-round, playing games, doing stuff.” After much emphasis in the area, Seattle Police Department says aid calls nearby dropped by nearly 20 percent in 2015.

Seattle DOT, as part of their Pavement to Parks Project, is busy painting an area of Pine St from 3rd Ave. to 4th Ave blue and yellow. It will soon become known as “Pine Street Plaza” and while it removes several parking spaces, it will become a food truck lot.

“These are great public spaces downtown and they were becoming negative spaces with negative behavior. Our idea was not to displace anybody, but to invite more people in,” says Jenn Casillas, with the Downtown Seattle Association (DSA).

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