Serving Up Success: DSA Parks Partnership Primed for the Future

Food trucks, live music, exciting games and events are a recipe for success in the new five-year agreement to energize downtown Seattle parks.

The Downtown Seattle Association (DSA) recently completed a one-year pilot program to enhance Westlake Park and Occidental Square. Following the success of the pilot and to kick-off of a new five year management agreement, the DSA, parks partners and the City, celebrated with a party held in late September at Occidental.

Modeled after public-private parks partnership in other major cities, the program is part of DSA’s commitment to improve the downtown experience. Beginning in summer of 2015, the highly successful one-year pilot brought in full-time staffing and a wide range of programming to appeal to business people, visitors and residents. More than 300 concerts and 900 food truck appearances, as well as children’s programs, concerts and interactive art installations, transformed the parks into active public spaces.

At the five-year celebration, DSA President and CEO Jon Scholes addressed party-goers, saying, “Today we’re in a space that’s attractive and welcoming to everybody, and it’s a feeling we need to replicate throughout downtown.” Scholes also recognized the important coalition behind the pilot and new agreement, noting, “Well-deserved credit goes to the City, the Seattle Parks Foundation, the Alliance for Pioneer Square, the Metropolitan Improvement District, downtown property owners and Friends of Waterfront Seattle. The great people and organizations of our downtown made big investments to help this program succeed.”

Mayor Ed Murray also attended and offered his perspective: “Parks are actually about everybody in this city. Regardless if you’re a downtown business person or homeless, everyone should be able to enjoy them and everyone should be able to have a safe experience. When it comes to Occidental and Westlake, that’s exactly what’s been created – a space for everyone.”

At a panel discussion held during the event, local parent Steve Gillespie emphasized the importance of the parks as family-friendly destinations, noting, “Before, Westlake was essentially another street for us to pass through. Now it’s a destination. All of us rearing our kids in downtown Seattle love these new improvements. It’s a big, big deal for parents looking for safe play spaces.”

DSA President Jon Scholes discusses the future of downtown parks at a recent event to celebrate DSA’s management of the parks

DSA President Jon Scholes discusses the future of downtown parks at a recent event to celebrate DSA’s management of the parks

Seattle Parks Department Superintendent Jesús Aguirre spoke at the event as well, adding, “We’re really excited to take advantage of all of the expertise and creativity of the DSA and other partners.  The ability to build on our internal knowledge and create amazing, active, safe spaces for everyone is a great position to be in.”

For more information on what DSA and our partners are doing in Occidental and Westlake, visit

Watch the full remarks from the event on the Seattle Channel: