A sloping path meanders past roses, rhubarb stalks and berries. It was quiet Thursday, except for the buzz of bees and traffic along W. Marine View Drive. On Saturday, Everett’s Bayside Park and P-Patch will be a place to celebrate and remember.
Created in 2003, the 1-acre Bayside Park is just west of Grand Avenue with an entrance off 21st Street. Viewing areas overlook Port Gardner, and recent improvements include new walkways, a chess table, refurbished landscaping and better access for disabled visitors. It is also the site of Everett’s oldest community garden.
The park’s story is one of a neighborhood’s toil to create beauty from blight. With the donation of two benches in the Bayside P-Patch, which is linked to the park, one family is honoring an Everett woman who died in a terrible accident.
“This is close to her childhood home,” said Kevin McCollum, whose mother, Jenny McCollum, was one of three people killed in a 2003 crash caused by a drunken driver.
McCollum and his wife, Connie Becerra, have installed two cast concrete benches among the garden plots. One is in memory of Jenny McCollum, 52, who was driving home from her Everett antiques shop when she was killed. Two passengers in the other car, 20-year-old Michael Seavy and Cory Baudry, 18, also died. The second bench is being placed in the P-Patch in Seavy’s memory, McCollum said.
The car’s driver, Grant Fosheim, was 20 when he was sentenced to six years in the vehicular homicide case. Since his release from prison, Fosheim has taken responsibility for the tragedy at safe-driving events organized by the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office.
McCollum said Wednesday that he and Fosheim met several months ago. “He was the first person to donate for the bench,” McCollum said. He and his wife hope to make a place of healing and remembrance in the P-Patch area, where others will be able to install bricks with loved ones’ names.
“She loved to garden,” McCollum, 35, said of his mother. “And she loved Everett.”
Bayside Park and the garden started as the Bayside Centennial P-Patch in 1993 — the city’s centennial year — stand as tributes to many who love Everett.
Bill Belshaw, a Bayside Neighborhood resident, proposed the site for a park in the early 1990s. Neighbors Lloyd Weller and Elle Ray helped plan and plant it. By 2000, the city had installed a viewing platform and benches at the top of the slope.
The partial loss of another park helped bring Bayside Park into being. Meghan Pembroke, a city spokeswoman, said the availability of the Bayside property came from a mitigation agreement related to the loss of about half of tiny Maggie’s Park, at the west end of Everett Avenue. That was because of construction of the California Street overpass.
Pembroke said part of the P-Patch is still on Kimberly-Clark land, and that the city is in discussions with the company to have it transferred to city ownership.
The P-Patch predates the park by a decade. Suzanne Karr started the community garden with a big cleanup after she and her husband, Dave, bought their “fixer-upper” house on Grand Avenue in 1990. The hillside, then owned by the Scott Paper Co., was overgrown and littered with old tires, pieces of metal and broken glass.
Flowers and plants first came from Karr’s own garden and from cuttings shared by neighbors. Volunteers worked to create two terraces, so gardeners had flat plots.
Gardeners leased the property from Scott for $1 a year, Karr said. The P-Patch was created in 1993 with a $3,000 grant from the Bayside Neighborhood Association, but the first official season was 1994.
Pembroke said park construction costs of about $395,000 covered work that is visible — accessible concrete pathways, a disabled parking space, new landscaping, lighting and trash receptacles — and items that don’t show, including underground water and power lines and irrigation systems.
Mary Belshaw, whose husband, Bill, was among the park creators, is now P-Patch coordinator. Today, 26 gardeners tend to more than 40 plots, she said.
“Last year we donated over 550 pounds of produce to the food bank,” Belshaw said. The Volunteers of America Food Bank was given rhubarb, potatoes, squash, chard, kale, lettuce and other fresh goods.
It costs $30 a year to rent a plot — “a very good deal,” Belshaw said. Next year, one plot will be used for flowers in the remembrance area, she said.
“There are people who have gardened all their lives and there are newbies this year,” Belshaw said. One family has three generations — kids, parents and grandparents — working in the P-Patch.
“I’m happy, happy, happy for the neighborhood. It was a long process,” said Andrea Tucker, who was involved for years with the Bayside Neighborhood group.
“It is beautiful,” Karr said. “I have pictures showing when it was bare dirt.”
Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; email@example.com.
Bayside Park event Saturday
Everett’s Bayside Park will be celebrated at a grand reopening party from 2-4 p.m. Saturday. The event, celebrating renovations at the park and the 20th anniversary of the Bayside P-Patch, will include a ribbon-cutting ceremony with Mayor Ray Stephanson, music, children’s activities, refreshments and a seed exchange. The park is at 2200 Grand Ave., Everett.
A bench at the park’s north end was donated by longtime Bayside resident Aileen Langhans. Two new benches in the P-Patch honor Jenny McCollum and Michael Seavy, both killed in a 2003 crash. Donations for the remembrance area may be made at: www.gofundme.com/72mbvw.