By Karen Berge
Reporting for West Seattle Blog
The agenda at Monday evening’s North Delridge Neighborhood Council (NDNC) monthly meeting focused primarily on discussion of the DESC project (the Downtown Emergency Service Center‘s 75-unit “supportive housing” project at 5444 Delridge Way).
Parie Hines, new co-chair of NDNC, led this major segment of the meeting. She explained potential next steps as she walked the group through 2 flipchart pages — which defined a new structure and process for moving forward that integrates feedback from earlier discussions and meetings.
The basis of the proposed process is the formation of a separate advisory group, the “Delridge Alliance,” described as an advisory group of stakeholders organized to gather input and synthesize the community’s concerns regarding the DESC project; to help the community envision priorities for the DESC space; and to actively work with key decision-makers to represent the community’s needs throughout the DESC project timeline.
“Inclusive” and “effective” were among the characteristics that Hines used to describe this new working group; their initial role will be to select a panel of up to 9 “Alliance Advocates” to represent different interests in the community. The 9 advocates will represent all interested stakeholders within the following categories: 1) Neighborhood Leadership (up to 4 total, 1 from NDNC); 2) Businesses; 3) Institutions; 4) Adjacent Property Owners; 5) Neighborhood Design and Development; and 6) Social Service and Mental Health Providers.
Hines articulated NDNC’s role in the process; she emphasized that their role will be neutral, neither for nor against the project. NDNC’s focus will be “to foster and encourage communication”, to “make the process work well”, and to establish the Delridge Alliance advisory committee.
She followed with this overview of the process. The Alliance Advocates will first meet in early January. There will also be a large community meeting held sometime in January to gather and prioritize neighborhood concerns, ideas and questions. That large meeting will be followed by 2 to 4 smaller public follow-up meetings, which are related directly to the priorities that were identified from the big meeting. Late January or early February meeting(s) will discuss community visions for the Central Node – these are time sensitive to respond to the DESC design process. The objectives include:
· Develop a list of prioritized neighborhood concerns and desires.
· Negotiate/discuss list items with DESC or other parties.
· Publish a report for community review.
Questions and comments followed her presentation; these included:
· What sort of time commitment will be required, especially from the Alliance Advocates? Hines responded that they would have quite a few meetings at first, then later on maybe once a month. She further clarified that this group will continue to meet until “they are no longer needed.”
· The word “Alliance” seems confusing; “what are we an alliance of?”. She explained that the Delridge Alliance and Alliance Advocates terminology is an attempt to distinguish this specific project group from the already existing Delridge neighborhood groups; it’s an alliance of stakeholders.
· “NDNC should be looking to the broader community for others who will want to be involved, more people of color”, as well as more representation from business institutions.
· Is everybody welcome? This commenter noted that she had felt left out of two meetings that were held at individual homes. Betsy Hoffmeister and Parie Hines (who had hosted those meetings, covered here and here) responded to explain how those meetings had come about. Hoffmeister added “this meeting happened because I got cranky and said ‘come to my house so we can move this forward.”
· One participant expressed hope for a big turnout at that first January meeting and that the advocates will bring different perspectives to the discussion.
· Another person noted the need for a process that is both “macro” and “micro.”
· How are the Alliance Advocates selected? What is the vetting process? Those interested in participating can express interest to NDNC via e-mail – firstname.lastname@example.org.
As she ended this segment of the meeting, Hines emphasized the need for these volunteers to be a clearinghouse, “to make what comes out of the bigger meeting concise; the end result needs to be clarity”.
There was also additional discussion of the Design Review Board meeting on December 8th (our video of the meeting is here), NDNC co-chair Amanda Leonard noted that Kirsten Smith wrote a summary that’s now posted to their new website at . One attendee commented, “I learned a lot…I was blown away – awestruck – at how organized it was,” She also noted that it was very important for people to take the time to provide written statements, especially if they couldn’t attend. Hines added that people can e-mail Michael Dorcy, email@example.com, with any other needs that should be addressed; he is the city planner on the project.
(WSB coverage of the DESC project is archived here.)
Other business at the NDNC meeting:
ALKI ART FAIR: Chas Redmond spoke to the group about the Alki Art Fair. His key points were:
· To make the group aware of the Alki Art Fair Board’s transition in October 2011 to a non-profit 501c3.
· To ask for their support to build a stock of community members to participate each year; this would include business sponsors.
· To consider serving as either an organization chairs or on one of the organizing committees; he handed out a flyer that lists several roles that they are hoping to fill.
· To help recruit “day of” volunteers that can help.
· To build awareness of this Peninsula-wide event, which will typically fall on the last weekend in July. In 2012, the Alki Art Fair will be held July 28th – 29th.
· Planning meetings will begin on January 11th (second Wednesdays) from 6:30 – 8 PM, most likely at Alki Arts. Those interested can contact Chas by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
DELRIDGE DAY: The NDNC group is starting to plan for Delridge Day 2012. They have made arrangements to have a UW student help with the organization process. Others interested in helping with the event can contact the group. The Delridge Day committee will meet starting in January.
LETTER TO THE CITY: NDNC voted to go ahead and send a letter, addressed to City Councilmember Mike O’Brien (with cc’s to several other council members and to DON) to request that the Delridge Neighborhood Plan be reviewed in the next review cycle, since so much has changed in the neighborhood in recent years. Although the Delridge Neighborhood plan is eligible and potentially on the list to be reviewed, all eligible neighborhood plans may not actually be reviewed. The draft of this letter was circulated and was approved by the group members.
The next North Delridge Neighborhood Council meeting will be on Monday, 1/9/12, 6:30 pm at Delridge Library (Brandon/Delridge). Minutes from this meeting will be posted later this week on their website at ndnc.org. You can also follow the group on Twitter at twitter.com/heartdelridge.