Story by Jason Grotelueschen
Reporting for West Seattle Blog
Interested in a crosswalk at Delridge/Findlay, a growing commercial district in the heart of Delridge? That was one of many topics of discussion as community leaders gathered Wednesday night for the monthly Delridge Neighborhoods District Council meeting, inside the theater at the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, to discuss ways to improve public safety and increase involvement in local neighborhoods.
The agenda featured an update on the Elliott Bay Seawall Replacement Project, a discussion of Neighborhood Projects Fund ideas, and a presentation about Camp Long’s application for a Large Project Grant.
SKATEPARK CONSTRUCTION: Delridge community advocate (and past Council chair) Pete Spalding of Pigeon Point called the meeting to order (filling in for current Council chair Mat McBride). Spalding said the biggest news of the day was “happening right across the street,” referring to the long-awaited start of construction on the Delridge Skatepark project. Fences went up earlier this week and they’ve “started turning dirt,” Spalding said, noting that “we’ve been waiting for years for this to happen.” The $483,000 skatepark is being built by West Seattle-based Grindline (which also designed the project), and is scheduled to take about 4 months and be open in late summer.
SPD UPDATE: Operations Lt. Pierre Davis from Southwest Precinct was on-hand to give an update on the recent spike of burglaries in West Seattle over last couple of weeks. He said SPD has “a good idea who the individuals are,” and that they’re “hot on the trail.” He also talked about the continued instances of copper thefts, citing a somewhat humorous example of two individuals who tried to steal a “giant copper anchor,” most likely from a park, and were driving on Delridge Way “with the anchor dragging in the back.” Lt. Davis joked that for police officers, sighting such as these are “pretty good clues” that something is going on.
SW Precinct will also participate in the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA’s) second National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on Saturday, April 30 from 10am-2pm. Anyone with an excess of prescription drugs can drop them off at SW Precinct (2300 S.W. Webster) for safe disposal.
Lt. Davis also noted that this year’s Southwest Precinct picnic will be the afternoon of Saturday August 20th (here’s WSB’s coverage of last year’s picnic).
AT THE CENTER: Derek Birnie, executive director of the Youngstown facility (which hosts the Delridge District Council meetings along with many other community events) said things have been busy lately at the Center. He added that some of the residents who live upstairs in “artist housing” have expressed interest in coordinating a film series on the last Friday of the month, likely starting next month. No details have been confirmed yet, but Birnie said he’d be sure to get the word out.
DOWNTOWN SEAWALL: Jennifer Wieland from SDOT and Alexandra Sheldon from EnviroIssues were in attendance to give a presentation about the Elliott Bay Seawall Project. The goal is to repair the underground seawall protecting downtown Seattle’s waterfront – the existing seawall was built in the 1930s using wood pilings (from an estimated 20,000 trees) that have been deteriorating for many years, and “it’s pretty clear we’re getting to the toothpick stage in some areas,” Wieland said.
The affected area runs from South Washington Street (south of Colman Dock) north to Broad Street (south of the Olympic Sculpture Park), divided into six “zones” that are being evaluated based on the unique characteristics of each area. The width of the seawall (meaning, the distance it runs inland) ranges from 15 feet in some areas to 60 feet in others. The team said that the Seattle waterfront to the north and south of this area isn’t a concern, largely because of reinforcement that has been done in other ways.
The team has been evaluating various options for construction and design, taking into account numerous factors such as public safety, nearby business impact, coordination with the viaduct and tunnel projects, waterfront aesthetics (including public access to the water, potentially), animal habitat, and continuation of vital utility services (there are utility pipelines under the waterfront that run “from Alaska to California” and serve much of downtown Seattle, Wieland said.) Several “open houses” and presentations for the public were done earlier this spring (including the SW District Council meeting in early February; you can also view SDOT’s “virtual open house” here), and the next step is for the team to present its “preferred alternative” to the Seattle City Council on Monday April 25th — their current timeslot is 10:15 am, broadcast on Seattle Channel, cable 21. Once the preferred alternative is discussed and approved, additional planning will be done by the end of 2011, and the plan is to be in construction by 2013 and be finished in early 2016. The project is funded through 2012 (during design) and the team is seeking grant money, but additional funding will likely be sought in the form of a levy that would go to the voters. Because of the project’s partnership with the Army Corps of Engineers, it’s possible that two-thirds of the construction costs could be covered by federal funding.
CAMP LONG’S ROPES COURSE: Next on the agenda was a presentation from David Kipnis and Sheila Brown from Camp Long , to provide an update on the “challenge-course / ropes course” project that has been the subject of much interest from the community. The official project website is here, and WSB has previous coverage about the project from last month’s Delridge Council meeting and from a January 27th community meeting.
The project is a joint venture involving Camp Long, Seattle Parks and Recreation, and WSU 4-H. Kipnis said the focus on the project is “experiential environmental education,” designed to get youth and other organizations involved in outdoor activities that foster teamwork.
Kipnis said the team has received letters of support from seven area organizations who intend to be involved with the effort, and they “have room for one more” as per their current plans:
- Southwest Youth and Family Services
- Safe Futures
- Projecto Saber (SPS program for Latino youth)
- Hope Academic Enrichment Center
- West Seattle YMCA, Earth Service Corps
- Neighborhood House
The cost of a “low course” involving ropes and challenges that are lower to the ground is $37,000, but the team is seeking funding to help cover the $63,000 necessary to fund a “high course” that would feature more intense challenges. Groups who want to use the course would need a “trained facilitator” to accompany them, and part of the $37,000 would be reserved to pay for the 5-day “Leadership Academy” facilitator training for up to 16 people from area organizations, in the hope that this will foster increased interest in the facility in the future.
Kipnis said they’re optimistic that the “high course” funding can be obtained, and that Camp Long has a site selected that could become “one of the best in the country.” He said the camp has a “rich history with climbing” dating back to its founding 70 years ago, and the ropes course would be a great fit.
DELRIDGE NEIGHBORHOOD PROPOSALS FOR CITY FUNDING: Pete Spalding led a discussion about 10 proposals that came in from the Delridge community. Here’s that list:
- Crosswalk at Delridge Way SW and SW Findlay
- Traffic light with pedestrian crossing signals at SW Genesee and Avalon Way SW
- Crosswalk light on Delridge Way SW and SW Edmunds
- Sidewalks on SW Hudson from Puget Blvd SW to 26th Ave
- Trail crossing signs and “no parking” signs on SW Brandon west of 26th Ave SW (Longfellow Creek Legacy Trail)
- Curb for parking on SW Brandon St east of 25th Ave SW
- Speed bumps or traffic circles on 26th Ave SW between SW Hudson and SW Genesee
- Speed bumps and/or traffic circles on 26th Ave SW between SW Brandon and SW Juneau
- One-block section of sidewalk on the south side of SW Brandon to connect the 29th Ave SW and 30th Ave SW sidewalks
- Center lane island or planter island to provide crossing assistance at Delridge Way SW and SW Graham
Representatives from each neighborhood group in Delridge now has until close-of-business Monday April 25th to vote for their top 3 projects, which will then be submitted for further review. Spalding asked those in attendance if they had any initial reactions about which projects might “rise to the top,” and a couple of attendees called out the SW Genesee and Avalon Way SW crossing as being particularly necessary. There also was discussion about how this request might relate to a separate discussion/request regarding a possible signal nearby at Avalon and Yancy (WSB coverage here).
- Last weekend’s Delridge Green Up (WSB coverage here) was called a “big success,” with great weather and a great turnout.
- The group noted that Bernie Matsuno has been chosen by Mayor McGinn to have the “interim” title removed, to serve as permanent Department of Neighborhoods director (WSB coverage here).
- The June or July meeting of the council might be a joint meeting with the SW District Council. Details TBD.
- There is a need to have updated “display maps” to have at summer festivals in the area, to talk to residents about where they live and how they can get involved.
- West Seattle Summer Fest is looking for community leaders to help staff a table in the “hospitality tent” at the middle of the festival area. Spalding encouraged Delridge leaders to sign up.
- Spalding asked attendees to think about key agenda items for the group’s future meetings, and a few things were proposed: Light rail and east-west transit in West Seattle, transportation issues such as those discussed recently by the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce, fighting graffiti, and economic development (hotels, grocery stores, ecotourism, etc)
The Delridge Neighborhoods District Council meets on the third Wednesday of the month, 7 pm at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center (4408 Delridge Way SW), all welcome – and you are also welcome to come early for the monthly Strategic Delridge meeting that precedes it at 6 pm. The next meeting is Wednesday May 18th.