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Jackson Park's makeover excites neighborsJackson Park graphic, courtesy of city of Everett 
EVERETT - Residents are getting excited by new enhancements to Sen. Henry M. Jackson Park set to make it safer, more active and more fun.
The city is planning a variety of improvements to the triangle of parkland between 17th, 18th and Walnut streets starting this fall.
A 36-plot community garden is the centerpiece for the plans.
The north Everett park also will get a big green space and numerous safety features.
Neighbors Holly Casey and Melody Scalzo liked what they heard as their boys looked over the plans at a community meeting on Jackson Park last week.
“I’m happy to see a big green space so people can play frisbee and games,” Casey said.
She also likes that the city will widen sidewalks at Jackson Park, making the site more useful for kids to bicycle.
Her family lives close to Jackson Park but they opt for Garfield Park instead because Jackson is soggy to walk on, Casey said.
The new playground equipment may include jungle gyms, rotating multi-person merry-go-rounds and structures to climb. The city might buy see-through play equipment to make it even safer.
The new equipment fulfills the request list from people’s responses at a survey event at the park last year. One of the few popular requests the park won’t get is a waterslide.
Casey and Scalzo liked the single unisex bathroom the city will install at Jackson Park. A unisex bathroom makes it safer for mothers with small boys.
The city is making the bathroom transient-resistant by letting wind come in through louvres to make it uncomfortable to sleep in, parks landscape architect Mark Harrison said.
A few other features gave neighborhood crime watch activist Terri Amburgy positive hopes.
The city will install lights on sensors that will keep the park lit up at night to make anyone using it after-hours conspicuous.
Drug users have flocked to Jackson Park in the early morning hours because it’s dark, Amburgy said.
The park benches and other surfaces will be made from graffiti-resistant materials such as stainless steel, and the bathroom will be built of sturdy baseball bat-proof materials, Harrison said.
The field will also be flattened, meaning a berm that blocks views of who’s in the park will be gone.
The city hopes to start work this fall and complete phase one of the park by summer 2015. Phase No. 1 will cost approximately $2 million, largely funded by state and federal grants.
Phase No. 2 constitutes a larger basketball court on the east side will be built not just for hoops but to accommodate pelota mixteca, a ball game similar to tennis except people hit the ball with their hands. Pelota mixteca players were using the parking lot because they didn’t have a place to play. The new athletic fields will cost about $2.5 million. 
The park will keep its baseball diamond, soccer fields and other amenities.
Overall, the Jackson Park renovations were once estimated to cost $15 million as per a 2011 master plan.
Jackson Park is a neighborhood park, meaning most of its users live nearby.
The parks department learned a lot from Lions Park, which underwent a massive renovation in 2009, assistant parks director John Petersen said. The city is leveraging that experience with the intention to make Jackson Park into a highly utilized park space.

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