By Karen Berge
Reporting for West Seattle Blog
The Downtown Emergency Service Center‘s (DESC) Delridge Supportive Housing project was the major discussion topic at the North Delridge Neighborhood Council (NDNC) January monthly meeting on Monday evening.
This first meeting of the new year, held at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, kicked off with brief introductions and reflections on New Year’s resolutions from the 15 neighborhood attendees. After that, meeting business quickly got underway. The very full agenda also included a proposal for a new committee on Community Design and Land Use; details about today’s North Delridge Walking Tour with City Council and SDOT representatives; information about potential Bridging the Gap grant projects; discussion of the recent request to the city regarding an update to the Delridge Neighborhood Plan; and other items and announcements.
First, since it’s about an event happening today:
NORTH DELRIDGE WALKING TOUR:
Jake Vanderplas, NDNC Transportation Committee chair, briefed the group on
details about the North Delridge walking tour set for 3-4:30 pm today (meet outside the Delridge Community Center). Tour participants will include City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, representative(s) from SDOT, members of NDNC, and any other interested Delridge neighbors or others who wish to attend. Issues include large and small items relating to bike, pedestrian, transit or driving safety (for example, a Walk-signal button that doesn’t activate the signal light when pressed). If you know of additional issues or sites that should be addressed/visited on the tour, they suggest that you post a comment on their site. A new pedestrian issue that was brought up during this meeting is an asphalt sidewalk with a mailbox positioned inconveniently in the very center of the walkway.
DESC PROJECT/DELRIDGE ALLIANCE
Vonetta Mangaoang, NDNC co-secretary and the only representative from NDNC on the newly formed Delridge Alliance, gave a recap regarding the latest news – the decrease of allowable units from 75 to 66, because the project’s allowable number of extremely low-income units was originally calculated based on older census data and boundaries, then reviewed against updated data. This change in the project was discovered and reported on by WSB last week.
Mangaoang noted that no one else has yet communicated directly to NDNC or the new neighborhood advisory group, the Delridge Alliance, about this, so “we are curious to see if it changes the building plans in a substantial way” or if the space will be reconfigured within the building. In the absence of communication from the city’s Office of Housing or DESC, she noted somewhat jokingly that they are watching for installation of a new “big white sign” on the property with an updated proposed land use description. She also suggested that NDNC contact Michael Dorcy, email@example.com, the project planner, for the official report on the first Design Review Board meeting a month ago.
She also had these updates:
* The Delridge Alliance is seeking 2 more Alliance Advocates; the group now has 7 of its 9 allocated members. Nominations for these neighborhood leadership positions are due by January 15th. More details are posted here.
* The first public meeting conducted by the Delridge Alliance will be held on February 8th starting at 6:30 PM, the venue is still TBD. Agenda details are also still in the works; the tentative plan is to allow attendees to give short uninterrupted comments or statements. She emphasized that this meeting will be an opportunity for the public to talk to the panel of Alliance Advocates, not necessarily to DESC staff or city leaders. The Alliance plans to take the results of this meeting into consideration to help them formulate a plan for moving forward.
Brief discussion from the group followed. Tom Teicher, who began his remarks with “I’m wearing my DESC hat” – he is a DESC employee who has been attending NDNC meetings for the past several months, though not usually in an official capacity representing his employer – observed that the upcoming public meeting
“may become a venting opportunity – therapeutic”; he suggested “…but, the discussion could be integrated with Land Use so the conversation becomes more about what people want to see” rather than focused only on the DESC project and about what they don’t want to see.
Patrick Baer (NDNC treasurer) voiced the strongest comments; he said he is
very disappointed, insulted, outraged, “that Housing didn’t share the decrease in DESC units directly with NDNC”; he noted that they didn’t seem to be using the city’s own established channels for communication to neighborhood groups.
Several others seemed to echo some of his frustration: “They made a decision and didn’t tell the neighborhood”; “It is about lack of communication and being shut out of the process”; and “I want to ask how we, NDNC, can engage with them?”.
Baer later added that the Delridge Community Forum will be moving forward on this issue in the February-March time frame.
COMMUNITY DESIGN/LAND USE:
This segment of the meeting ties in to the discussion about the DESC project. Parie Hines, NDNC co-chair, handed out a printed proposal and spoke about the formation of a new committee, Community Design and Land Use, which will participate in any upcoming community design process. This new committee will actively engage the neighborhood by convening meetings to gather input, prioritize visions and then work with the city and leadership organizations toward implementation of the neighborhood’s goals.
It will not be a standing committee, but rather an ad-hoc committee to provide leadership and foster communication about specific land use matters – one of the first items would be the Brandon Node visioning process. Brandon Node is the section of the Delridge business district from SW Brandon Street to SW Findlay Street (the 5400 block) and includes the future DESC Delridge site. As well, it is comprised of existing buildings – some with vacant commercial/retail spaces such as Brandon Court, which houses the Delridge Neighborhood Service Center that will be moving out this spring (here’s our latest report on the timetable and other details). Hines then updated the group about a discussion she’d had with DNDA (Delridge Neighborhood Development Association), who manage that property as well as several others in the area (http://www.dnda.org/dnda-properties). She noted that DNDA might be amenable to working with NDNC to recruit desirable businesses such as a small grocery store (they haven’t identified any potential location large enough for a major grocery store).
Other potential visioning projects for the new Community Design and Land Use Committee include large developments such as Youngstown Flats and the 7100 Delridge project. This committee could also potentially inform any future update to the Delridge Neighborhood Plan. Hines said she hopes to encourage any NDNC members, as well as any other Delridge neighbors, to consider getting involved by joining this committee.
BRIDGING THE GAP GRANT APPLICATIONS
The deadline for Bridging the Gap grant applications is coming up on February 1st and NDNC members and other Delridge neighbors are encouraged to apply. More details including the process and timeline for 2012 grants are here. Discussion at this meeting focused primarily on traffic calming measures, such as curb bulbs and crosswalks; however, someone noted that projects for parks and other public spaces can qualify as well. A drainage project was also “floated” as a possibility.
Mat McBride (Delridge Neighborhoods District Council chair) emphasized that every project application gets looked at and evaluated, so it’s a way to let the city know about what is wanted by a neighborhood … even if the likelihood is that the specific project won’t be one of the top picks. Last year, NDNC was the only group in the district that submitted applications; they are hoping for wider participation from other neighborhoods this year. Project ideas that were submitted last time, but didn’t get funded, can be resubmitted this year.
DELRIDGE NEIGHBORHOOD PLAN UPDATE?
Co-chair Amanda Leonard updated the group on a response to the letter they sent to City leaders last month to request that the Delridge Neighborhood Plan be reviewed and updated during the next review/update cycle. The response acknowledges NDNC’s letter, but didn’t address the request. At this meeting, the group decided to follow up to ask for a more specific response. NDNC plans to direct this follow up request to Councilmember Sally Bagshaw, since some roles on the council have now changed as of Monday when the newly (re)elected council members were sworn in, and she leads the newly renamed/repurposed Parks and Neighborhoods Committee.
NEW NDNC WEBSITE:
Leonard gave the group a quick online tour of the newly overhauled NDNC website, which launched late last year. Development was funded by a grant; there was even enough money for a few other outreach materials that will be handed out at upcoming community events. Their new website is in blog format. A highlight is that it includes a translation widget, a way for neighbors to translate the information into other languages. It also includes an event calendar, a link so that people can easily sign up to join their Google group, and visibility for their “@HEARTDELRIDGE ” Twitter feed.
YOUNGSTOWN CULTURAL ARTS CENTER:
A recent citywide-media article about Youngstown was brought up, and time will be set aside to discuss it at next month’s meeting. Two recent posts on the NDNC website address it, and a related “open letter” from last summer – see them here and here.
* Michael Taylor-Judd announced that Gathering of Neighbors will be held on 4/21 at Sealth International High School. He plans to send out more details shortly, but meanwhile save the date!
* Holli Margell, NDNC Outreach Committee chair, reminded the group about the community-conversation meeting that School Board rep Marty McLaren is having 11 am-1 pm next Saturday, January 14, at Delridge Library, and the expectation that in the longer run, the district will again redraw attendance boundaries.
The next North Delridge Neighborhood Council meeting will be Monday, February 13, 6:30 to 8 PM at the Delridge Library, the group’s regular meeting venue. Watch ndnc.org for minutes from this meeting, and the agenda for that one.