By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
“Good turnout!” exclaimed René Commons as she walked into the lower-level meeting room at the Senior Center of West Seattle tonight, seeing 10 people who had come to help her re-launch the Junction Neighborhood Organization, more than a year after it went dormant.
Some of the meeting was about the business of organizing. Ed Pottharst (center in our top photo) from the city Department of Neighborhoods described how the Southwest District Council, made up of reps from community councils and organizations on the west side of West Seattle, works, and the issues it tackles, including reviewing community applications for certain city grants. The first question for him was, “What about eastern West Seattle?” As he explained, in Seattle’s 13-district system, the city has West Seattle split into two districts, Southwest and the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council. Pottharst and colleagues Yun Pitre and Steve Louie, working out of the Neighborhood Service Center at the Southwest Teen Life Center and Pool, serve as liaisons to the city for not just the district councils but also the individual community groups.
Second topic, raised by Commons: “Do we need more park spaces in the area, with our density?”
She recapped former JuNO president Erica Karlovits‘s work with West Seattle Junction Association director Susan Melrose to raise funds to complete Junction Plaza Park at 42nd/Alaska a few years back, and mentioned the city’s purchase of a future park site on 40th SW between Alaska and Edmunds, without money – yet- to develop it. Regarding other needs, she advocated thinking big and “thinking long term.”
The discussion veered into the possibility of park space for pets and their owners, and then to greenspace and beautification. One attendee mentioned the Fauntleroy Way Green Boulevard concept for The Triangle that’s being designed right now – with additional money approved recently, as reported here, and suggested that the group get involved with helping shape that.
They also talked briefly about Seattle City Light‘s in-progress outreach about whether to sell surplus property, or dispose of it some other way. (See the list of properties here and the dates/times for public meetings in late August here – note the address for High Point Community Center is wrong.)
Regarding hot topics – Commons said that someone who came to the brainstorming meeting earlier in the week raised concerns about the traffic increase on SW Oregon between Fauntleroy and The Junction leading to an increase in collisions, and is trying to get city attention.
And she brought up the Whole Foods/4755 Fauntleroy project’s alley-vacation controversy in the final minutes of the meeting, mentioning that she was one of the community members involved in dialogue about the project, and noting that many were caught by surprise by the Mayor’s announcement last week that he thinks SDOT should recommend rejection of the “alley vacation” requested for the project. One attendee said since it was such a surprise, it might be at least a good opportunity to “seize what we want out of the project” – spell out what community members think the “public benefit” in the project should be. For example, what about “subsidizing a bus” so the C Line crowding can be reduced a bit? she asked. Commons agreed that discussing the project and thinking ahead 50, 60 years into the future would be wise.
Another attendee then brought up the concern about facilities for kids, as more people move into the area and some invariably are families with children. Parks? Schools? How to make sure there’s more? Commons also noted that the area does not have a full community center; it was pointed out that Dakota Place Park’s renovated substation building is run as a satellite of Hiawatha Community Center.
A few more points:
*Design Review continues, Commons mentioned, for 4745 40th SW, the 150-apartment mixed-use building planned across 40th from the south end of the Whole Foods/4755 Fauntleroy Way project. (No date set yet for the next review.)
*An attendee spoke about the “Getting It Right for West Seattle” advocacy campaign, first noting that it is staffed and funded by UFCW 21, but saying that community members’ participation can take it beyond the 4755 Fauntleroy project, for which, she said, the union seeks a Community Benefits Agreement. She said the group was meeting again tonight, and that while the union is trying to “use the community” to further its opposition to Whole Foods, maybe the “community can use it” in turn. “They’re trying to be authentic,” she noted, and are meeting on Tuesday nights at Merrill Gardens-West Seattle (WSB sponsor).
Speaking of meetings, watch for word of the next JuNO gathering. Side note: JuNO is hoping to organize a community cleanup next month, probably on Sunday, August 4th; the city will provide equipment. Watch for more information on time and place for that, too.