People walking by Westlake Park may notice something different. What they notice though, may just as likely be the absence of the crowd of street youth who used to hang out along one side of the raised platform known as "the stage," as the addition of a new flower planter in the same location. The planter was installed at the beginning of August as part of the city's Downtown Parks Renaissance program. A large group of street youth, however, have considered that particular square footage of cement "home" for the past six years. Now they feel rejected.
"This is pretty much to beautify the front so they don't even see us," says Adam "Gloves," referring to the shoppers and security guards of the mall across the street. The youth all go by nicknames, and did not want last names used in order to preserve their privacy. They say all the youth, many who consider each other family, knew this location as the place to gather.
Joelle Hammerstad, Seattle Parks spokesperson, says the intention of the planter addition was to relieve congestion, not displace anyone. She says the space was often so crowded