“We need to start the conversation,” said Susan Melrose of the West Seattle Junction Association at last night’s Southwest District Council meeting, as she proposed a letter “on behalf of the entire West Seattle community” to try to get something done about safety and aesthetics issues at The Hole (the stalled-and-lawsuit-embroiled development site at Fauntleroy/Alaska/38th). “The development is clearly not going anywhere,” Melrose noted, “and it’s a major safety hazard sitting on that corner … It’s time to take steps to improve that situation … It would be great if the West Seattle community could speak with one voice” to express that concern.
She brought this draft letter; the plan to send a letter based on that one (with a few tweaks) was unanimously approved. But the issue of who it will be addressed to was the subject of some discussion and debate. Suggestions for addressees included virtually every elected official in the city, from the mayor to councilmembers to the city attorney, as well as multiple agencies, and of course, the various concerns believed to be potentially responsible for the hole itself.
Particular points of concern include the chain-link fence ringing the site, the condition of the sidewalk around The Hole, and the triangle of city-owned parkland that’s now fenced off. What kind of fence they’d like to see instead, council reps agreed would be up for discussion; the original wording of the letter suggests painted plywood, but from the audience, Mike Heavey, representing County Councilmember Jan Drago‘s office, said that might be more dangerous than the chain link, since “you can’t see what’s on the other side” – visitors might not be aware, for example, about the four-story drop. The current fence has some screening material that’s now tagged, observed SWDC co-chair Erica Karlovits of the Junction Neighborhood Organization, and council members thought that would be worth pointing out to the city, who could order the property owner(s) to clean it up. Whatever the wording, said Vlad Oustimovitch of the Fauntleroy Community Association (and briefly a onetime consultant to a former party to the project), “the important thing is to point out there’s a health and safety issue (at the site) and something should be done.” We’ll update you when the final version of the letter is complete (again, here’s the draft); also, we’re working on an unrelated story about the site, which you’ll see here later today/tonight if breaking news doesn’t interrupt.
ALSO FROM THE SOUTHWEST DISTRICT COUNCIL MEETING: What City Council President Richard Conlin had to say about the budget battles (and a funding vote that may come before you next year), and other assorted notes – read on:
That’s our lone photo from the meeting – Conlin’s at left, with White Center/Seattle annexation advocates Lois Schipper and Don Malo at right. We reported on their presentation at partner site White Center Now – see the story here. Right before that, Conlin’s remarks and Q/A had more than a few notes of interest:
BUDGET BEWARE: Last year, the city hashed out a budget with what Conlin described as “no (major effects) visible to the public,” but this year, he said, will be a different story: “Unfortunately a lot of the things we did in 2010 are one-time fixes and not repeatable for 2011. We will keep the lights on, we will keep basic programs going, but some things will be noticeable” – though he insisted the specifics are yet to be determined. He did say (as we tweeted during the meeting) he suspects the Parks Department “is going to be the one hurt the most” by the cuts. (See our report from the last Parks Board meeting.) As mentioned here yesterday, two public meetings to help shape the budget are coming up.
LIBRARY FUNDING VOTE IN 2012? Conlin singled out the Seattle Public Library as something that needs a “more sustainable funding source … an independent funding source to make it a little more immune to the winds of budget change.” He mentioned a proposal along those lines is likely to go to voters in 2012.
SOUTH PARK BRIDGE: SWDC co-chair Chas Redmond (from the Morgan Community Association) asked what the city can do to help the businesses that are likely to suffer when the county permanently closes the bridge June 30th. Conlin didn’t offer any specifics but did mention, regarding the ongoing search for money to build a new bridge, “It’s kind of sad that it’s come down to this … I’ve been trying to get the city involved for a long time; we finally have a critical mass in the council ready to (try to help find funding” – toward that point, he mentioned the letter the council recently sent to the county, but acknowledged “There will be an interim period that’s extremely difficult for South Park business folks.”
‘BUY LOCAL’ CAMPAIGN: Conlin said the city has a Request For Proposals out for a “Buy Local” campaign, with funding available to Neighborhood Business Districts – more details here. (The Junction Association’s Melrose said they’re seeking a share.) He also talked about $60 million in New Markets Tax Credits that the city will be helping facilitate and is inviting businesses to apply for.
Other toplines from the meeting:
FIRST NEIGHBORHOOD PLAN PRESENTATION: With the ultimate goal of having at least one West Seattle neighborhood plan targeted for official updating down the line, the Southwest District Council is having presentations this spring from the three neighborhoods in its jurisdiction that got such plans back at the turn of the millennium – Admiral, Morgan Junction, and The (West Seattle/Alaska) Junction. Admiral Neighborhood Association rep Jim Del Ciello kicked off the series with a presentation about the Admiral plan (see the original plan here), focusing in particular on traffic/parking problems identified more than a decade ago yet still not solved today. But he also pointed to a big success – saying the Admiral Neighborhood Plan was extensively referred to during the five-meeting design review of the Admiral Safeway redevelopment. Next plan to be reviewed, Morgan Junction, at the May 5th meeting.
GENESEE SCHMITZ NEIGHBORHOOD COUNCIL: SWDC heard briefly from the acting chair of this new group, Dick Miller (we covered its organizational meeting last month), and celebrated its formation as a success – with one rep noting it’s a community council NOT borne of crisis, though the neighborhood certainly has a central issue of focus right now – the future of the Genesee Hill Elementary School site, empty this year after Pathfinder K-8 moved to Pigeon Point. GSNC has a website, Miller mentioned, but nobody knew the address – we hope to get that in e-mail later today, and will add it to this story (as well as to the Community Groups list in the WSB sidebar). 11:29 AM UPDATE: Here’s the link.
LAFAYETTE SPORTS SWAP: A reminder from the audience (there is a public comment period at SWDC meetings, so you are always welcome to show up and spent a moment talking about a topic of interest) that Lafayette Elementary is hoping to get “the whole West Seattle community involved” in the Sports Swap it’s organizing for later this month. You can donate sports equipment – ANY sport – to be used as their fundraiser for the ongoing playground-development project, or you can sell your gear on consignment. The swap itself is coming up April 25th, with dropoff two days earlier; tons of information on this page from the Lafayette website.