Admiral Neighborhood Association: Tunnel talk; park process

February 11, 2009 at 11:57 pm | In Alaskan Way Viaduct, California Place Park, West Seattle news | 5 Comments

Highlights from last night’s Admiral Neighborhood Association meeting: WSDOT reps made a guest appearance as part of their tour of neighborhood groups to share “what’s next” re: the tunnel proposed to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct‘s so-called “mile in the middle” Central Waterfront section. Also, a recap of last week’s California Place Park “design workshop” meeting featured a few tense moments, with both supporters and opponents of park change in the room. Details on both, and one other note, ahead:

VIADUCT/TUNNEL UPDATE: The WSDOT reps say they’re in the final stages of making a map that will explain the West Seattle pathways into downtown, if the current plan (announced four weeks ago today) goes through. That plan would call for the tunnel to be open by 2015 (the actual tunnel-boring would take less than a year and a half of the four-year construction period), and for The Viaduct to stay open for almost the entire construction period — following demolition, construction of the “waterfront promenade” is envisioned to start around 2017.

They mentioned the Battery Street Tunnel is likely going to be closed and decommissioned as part of the new plan, because the currently envisioned tunnel route bypasses it. Taking the BST out of operation saves some money that previously had been slated to be spent on upgrading its safety systems.

One hot money topic right now – Will the Legislature authorize a King County “motor vehicle excise tax” to raise money for additional transit? The presentation given to the Admiral group suggested the tax would cost the average car owner $100 (assuming your car is worth $10K). One honest assessment of the tax’s chances: “It’s a moving target right now.” (If you want to let your state legislators know what you think about it, their contact information is linked from here.)

Asked about the Spokane Street Viaduct – which, they reminded, is a city project, not a state project – they mentioned the contract for its first major component, the eastbound 4th Avenue offramp, has just been “let,” and that it’s still $30 million short of total funding for the project, but it’s hoped that will be made up by federal “stimulus funding.”

CALIFORNIA PLACE PARK: One week after the contentious “design workshop” meeting, leading supporters and opponents of potential changes to this small park were in the same room again. Matthew Slye recapped the meeting on behalf of Friends and Neighbors of North Admiral (FANNA), the group that obtained a $15,000 city Department of Neighborhoods matching-fund grant to design possible park improvements.

Slye was asked if plans had been made for the format of the next design workshop, 10:30 am March 7 at Alki Community Center, to attempt to avoid the disruptions of what happened last week. He said the format has not yet been worked out. He also was asked why the postcard announcing the design workshops was sent by the Parks Department, if the project is not under Parks’ umbrella at this point; he said the 2,500 postcards that were mailed were a “gift” from that department.

One attendee suggested that someone other than landscape architect Karen Kiest lead/facilitate the next meeting, suggesting she was not prepared to handle the disruptions and get the meeting back on track, nor to deal with the sentiment that “people went there thinking they were going to be heard, and there was nobody from (the Parks Department) to hear them.”

Jan Bailey, who has led the campaign against park changes, repeated her contention that park neighbors had not been notified early in the process, which FANNA has disputed. Slye noted that matching-funds grants are open to any applicants and do not require a public outreach or comment process.

Bailey said she is upset that the three-meeting design process will end with some sort of proposed design for park changes: “For people who want no change to the park, that is not a choice” — it will be one of the alternatives considered at the next meeting, but by the third meeting, there will be some sort of design.

“We’re not going to pay (Kiest) to draw ‘nothing’,” Slye agreed. “You don’t need a drawing for ‘no change,’ that’s what is there now.” But right now, he added, “there is no design .. this talk of a playground, and trees being cut down, is misinformation.”

ANA vice president Jim Del Ciello, leading the meeting in the absence of president Mark Wainwright, pointed out that in the end “you’re all neighbors and you’re going to have to get along,” before the discussion closed.

PREPAREDNESS AND PARKS: The ANA also heard from Aaron Bert, who recently joined the Parks Department to handle emergency management – in particular, how the city’s parkland and Parks-operated buildings will be called into action if and when major disaster strikes. (The resources of the department total more than 6,000 acres, 1,000 staff members, and 150 buildings, by the way.)

Bert explained that a “vulnerability analysis” is beginning right now to figure out which community centers need work to be able to serve as sites for shelter and help; its findings will lead to a plan that could result in some work being done at centers that are deemed vital for preparedness purposes. In the short run, if there is a disaster, the centers would each be evaluated for “habitability,” and then opened to the community providing no major problems rendered them unsafe.

For Hiawatha Community Center, he agreed to work with ANA to see about storing their community emergency bag – something that many neighborhoods around West Seattle have been putting together, as part of an effort coordinated by Cindi Barker (as we first reported last year) – at the center. Bert also urged families to have their own disaster bag/kits ready, someplace they can be grabbed and taken along if you’re suddenly on the run.

The Admiral Neighborhood Association meets the second Tuesday of each month, 7 pm in the basement meeting room of Admiral Congregational Church, and all are welcome.

5 Comments

  1. To WSB, — Dennis Ross also reported that at the California Place Park “design” meeting the attendees were divided into 10 or 12 tables of small groups and asked to draw what to design into the park. At the recap of this exercise each table reported no change to the park. Thank you

    Comment by Dennis Ross — 11:47 am February 12, 2009 #

  2. I attended the design workshop (not the above summarized ANA meeting) and there were many tables that offered ideas for improving the park during the recap. Ideas included the addition of seating, native plants, ADA access, a meandering pathway; there was quite a list of ideas captured by Karen Kiest.

    Comment by Ann Limbaugh — 6:32 pm February 17, 2009 #

  3. SAVE NEIGHBORHOOD GREENSPACES California Place Park and ajacent green space 1. Keep the beautiful green space as grass-grass was the #1 request in surveys during Lafayette Playground Design-individuals and families already use space for soccer,football,baseball,tag,relaxing,imaginative play and more 2.There is no need for change-it will cost thousands of dollars to design and tear up what is now a beautiful and well used green space=there are many other parks nearby with play areas and Alki beach is a huge natural playscape for free-green is good for the environment. 3.Safety-a playscape next to a busy street?(California ave.SW) 4.Up keep and maintenance-will city maintain changes?-who will weed and water?(neighbors currently water new trees) 5.Litter and loitering-changes may encourage late-night loitering and littering-neighbors already pick up litter and don’t want more 6.Waste of money-city could better help the North Admiral community with traffic revisions,curbs,lights and more.(ONLY CURBS,MAINTENANCE AND TRAFFIC REVISIONS FOR PARK) PLEASE CONTACT!! City Councilman Tom.Rasmussen@seattle.gov 206.684.8808 Dept. of Neighborhoods Stella.Chao@seattle.gov 206.684.0465 Dept of Park & Rec Timothy.Gallagher@seattle.gov 206.684.8022 California Place Park Project Manager Kellee.Jones@seattle.gov 206.684.7052 SAVE OUR OPEN GREENSPACES **NO CHANGE TO PARK**

    Comment by **NO CHANGE TO PARK** — 6:14 am February 18, 2009 #

  4. Despite successes with the Department of Neighborhoods Matching Funds program, there are flaws in the process. As shown in the controverial proposed development of California Place Park in the North Admiral district. Found were, errors in the application process,erroneous community outreach claims and unfounded references of community support. Conflicting descriptions of the project by Seattle Parks and Recreation. The Dept. of Neighborhoods awarding the contract to Friends and Neighbors of North Admiral to hire the landscape architect 2 weeks prior to hearing public opinion at a special meeting called for that purpose by Seattle Parks and Recreation. This process has divided this neighborhood rather than bringing it together. California Place Park is not an unsafe,unused nor unkempt park in need of improvements. It is already a beautiful park and has served this community for nearly 100 years. It is a part of this community’s history. At the recent Feb. 3rd Design Workshop nearly 100 people attended. Roughly 80% attending supported NO CHANGE to the park.

    Comment by Jan Bailey — 6:56 am February 18, 2009 #

  5. Jan,
    1. Department of Neighborhoods gave high marks to the application from FANNA.
    2. Before submitting the application for the small and simple grant (sometimes called an “organizing grant” by DoN) FANNA discussed ideas for the area with the Parks Department and with many neighbors all of whom were very supportive. There is nothing erroneous or unfounded about the outreach or support we have for exploring ideas and developing a design. In fact, very few people we spoke with even knew that the spot was a public park.
    3. We were informed in August that our grant request was approved by DoN. Our contract is dated in September. It was after this point that Parks chose to host the November meeting – among other things as a way to explain the process to the community given the amount of misinformation that was/is being circulated about the project.
    4. There are many people in the neighborhood who would like to have constructive discussion about how we could better utilize California Place Park. These are the people who realize that it has never been our intention to remove, harm the trees or erect any sort of plastic/giant playstructure, who believe that it’s a park that all of our community members should be able to use and access safely, and who are willing to listen respectfully to the needs and ideas of their neighbors.
    5. From what I heard at the last meeting, many that say ‘no change’ actually concede there are some things that could be done to improve the park.
    **
    There’s no conspiracy here. No one’s trying pull the wool over the eyes of Admiral residents. These individuals and families are your neighbors who enjoy living in this community as much as you do and have the best intentions for their families and community in mind. Let’s have a constructive dialogue without all the anger and misinformation.

    Comment by Ann Limbaugh — 2:21 pm February 19, 2009 #

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