That’s Eddie Sherman, from the second generation of family ownership at Pacific Plumbing Supply, a regional business headquartered next to the West Marginal/Highland Park Way site that’s one of two potential West Seattle locations on the “final four” list for a public jail. Those two sites were the focus of a three-hour city-organized public forum at South Seattle Community College today. One major revelation from the city officials and consultants who were on hand: The process is slowing a bit now that Seattle is looking at teaming with north- and east-county cities on one semi-regional jail; that means the next round of hearings, on environmental impacts, won’t be till fall (there was originally talk of those hearings happening next month). The concerns expressed by jail opponents, meantime, continue to expand. Hear more of those concerns, and see what happens next, ahead:
The format of this format differed from the widely criticized format used at the last forum about these two sites, one month ago in South Park (WSB coverage here), and the turnout was a little smaller – here’s a quick overview of today’s crowd:
The official city presentation was still followed by discussion in small groups (that’s what was beginning as we shot the video you see above), but each of those groups was offered more time to present their points to the wider group. The city also put a different spokesperson up at the start of the meeting — Doug Carey had spoken both at the South Park meeting and at the first Highland Park Action Committee meeting about the jail sites in May (WSB coverage here); he was at SSCC today, but the background was provided from the podium by city policy adviser Catherine Cornwall, who also spoke to HPAC last Monday. She talked about the new partnership between Seattle and the north- and east-county cities (sound-county cities already have formed a consortium for their own jail needs):
HPAC chair Dorsol Plants said his group supports a regional solution, and would like to see the site somewhere outside Seattle; if it has to be in the city, they believe the Kent-style low-rise model that led to the choice of the current four finalist sites should be abandoned and replaced with the idea of a new high-rise:
The jail buildings on the HPAC easel, by the way, are in Sacramento, Portland, and Austria, among other places. Another person who spoke used a different visual aid that she admitted she had borrowed from the city – an easel-borne map showing all 35 sites the city started with, before narrowing the list down to four (prior to holding any public forums) – she pointed out the majority of those sites were in the city’s southern half, and protested, “We’re taxpayers (here) too!”
The same theme – fairness – emerged in the concerns expressed by Moeun Kang, who says he’s lived in the Highland Park area for 30 years:
Kang was also among those who rebuked the city for its outreach process; he said he wouldn’t have known about this event if not for flyers that community organizers put up in the neighborhood. Others wondered if the city had worked hard enough to directly reach the ethnic communities in southeast West Seattle and White Center, which seemed underrepresented at today’s meeting; translators were available but critics said that’s not enough. Meantime, several speakers voiced environmental concerns — the potential loss of yet more greenspace, particularly if the West Marginal/Highland Park Way site is chosen — among those speakers, HPAC vice chair Rory Denovan:
The city has one more public forum scheduled, Wednesday night at Seattle Center; then, as previously mentioned, the next public meetings will involve the environmental assessment of whatever sites are still under consideration once the east- and north-side cities contribute to the list, and that’s now not expected to happen before late September. A final site decision isn’t expected until at least mid-2009. You can read compilations of all the comments the city’s received so far, by going here; to send in your own comment, this is the place to start. The Highland Park Action Committee, meantime, invites all concerned residents to its next meeting, 7 pm August 25th at the Highland Park Improvement Club (12th/Holden); as Plants boomed out to the crowd at the end of the meeting, “If your city won’t represent you, your community will.”
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