A year and a half after the homeless encampment that calls itself “Nickelsville” returned to its original site in southeasternmost West Seattle, there’s a new twist: The government-owned land is being eyed by Food Lifeline, which works to get food to people in need and the agencies that serve them. This was first reported last night by our news partners at The Seattle Times; we confirmed it today with Food Lifeline development director Amy Lee Derenthal.
She told WSB via e-mail that the site would be a perfect location for them to expand warehouse and other operations: “Centrally located near major thoroughfares, it will serve as an administrative headquarters, volunteer center and collection, repacking and distribution site for the 300-plus food banks, emergency shelters and meal programs that Food Lifeline serves.” Derenthal says they’ve been looking at the site off and on since 2008, and, “We’ve spent several years looking at land and buildings all over King County. Our board of directors, architects, land developers and staff all agree that the West Marginal Way site is ideally suited for Food Lifeline – from easy access for the dozens of trucks that will move in and out of the site every day to a footprint that allows us to build a comprehensive hunger relief center.”
You probably recall the site was once under consideration as the potential site of a new city jail, a proposal vigorously fought by the Highland Park Action Committee, whose research contended a new jail wasn’t needed – a conclusion eventually also reached by the city and county. Lately, coincidentally, HPAC has been working with the city to see about a new home for “Nickelsville.” So what would happen to the encampment residents if Food Lifeline took over the site and they still hadn’t moved? Derenthal says FL is “committed to working with the city to help craft a solution … It will be 12 to 18 months before we will be ready to build. We’re confident that this will give the Nickelsville residents, homeless advocates and city officials plenty of time to reach a solution.”
What next? Followups to come.