VIDEO, PHOTOS: See and hear what happened on the Westwood/Roxhill Find It, Fix It Walk

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Story, photos, and video by Tracy Record and Patrick Sand
West Seattle Blog co-publishers

Though cleanups preceding Monday night’s Find It, Fix It Community Walk in Westwood/Roxhill left less of the area’s rawest problems to be “found,” it wasn’t all pre-sanitized.

The top photo is from a peek into an overgrown lot just off Trenton, northeast of Westwood Village, passed by the 120=plus walkers between official stops; the previous stop had been nearby, at a spot where a resident took the microphone and talked about a “recycling” bin that seemed to be a dumping magnet.

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Another unofficial stop was a home on 24th with signs meant to catch the procession’s eyes – asking for speed bumps and police reform.

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The department heads in whose purview those lay – SDOT’s Scott Kubly and SPD Chief Kathleen O’Toole – both stopped for a look, though not a chat, so far as we saw.

A few minutes earlier, we talked to the people in the yard, who said that regarding the speed bumps, their street is a popular cut-through, and somebody who zoomed through recently not only almost took out young siblings, but actually, they say, flipped off the kids before continuing on their way.

Also unplanned: A question about long-promised improvements that hadn’t materialized along Barton, after an SDOT employee promised some community-requested improvements are on the way to the crossing by the RapidRide stop and Longfellow Creek,

But let’s get back to how it all started. Community members and city staffers gathered in and around Longfellow Creek P-Patch, east of Chief Sealth International High School, awaiting Mayor Ed Murray:

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Once he arrived, it was showtime:

In the clip above, Mayor Murray went through a long list of people to acknowledge – the first 2 minutes, followed by introduction of city department heads and other officials who were there – SDOT’s Kubly and SPD’s Chief O’Toole as mentioned above, plus Fire Chief Harold Scoggins, Seattle Public Utilities Deputy Director Madeline Goddard, Finance and Administrative Services director Fred Podesta, Office for Civil Rights director Patricia Lally, Department of Neighborhoods director Kathy Nyland, and Office of Planning and Community Development director Sam Assefa.

No one from Parks was introduced at that point, though area supervisor Carol Baker spoke later, explaining that Superintendent Jesús Aguirre would have attended if not for a death in the family; we didn’t hear from a City Light rep, either. The mayor next went into an explanation of what Find It, Fix It Walks are about:

(If you hadn’t heard before about the mayor’s West Seattle roots, he speaks often, when visiting here, of spending his childhood in Alki.) Before the actual walking began, he turned the microphone over to City Councilmember Lisa Herbold, who acknowledged community accomplishments:

If you listened carefully, you heard a subtle nod to the controversy ignited by the mayor’s recent announcement of plans to cut city support for neighborhood district councils as part of a not-yet-mapped out change in city “engagement” policies – Herbold mentioned the value of geography-based and issue-based groups working together.

That wasn’t the last allusion of the night. But it was almost time to stop talking and start walking – after the first community speaker talked about challenges at the Barton Street P-Patch, many of which, she said, could be solved if a trash can was put in at the nearby bus stop. A Metro rep was asked to take note of that (we’ll check to see if a trash can turns up, as happened recently when a can-less stop was called out at Alki).

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Some trash pickup was in order for bag-and-grabber-wielding participants as the group headed up Thistle and turned onto 26th, heading south, on the east edge of Southwest Athletic Complex. This is an area that has been problematic for students, although, perhaps since this was held during the summer, school-related issues weren’t spotlighted – mentioned in passing, at most. West Seattle’s school-board rep Leslie Harris was on hand, though.

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The mayor had a list of people with whom to talk – on this stretch, we were at the back of the pack, so we talked a while with West Seattle Crime Prevention Council president Richard Miller, whose meetings are on summer hiatus, but he’s busy planning for fall.

Public safety was in fact the spotlight topic at the next stop, where Chief O’Toole spoke:

The “micropolicing plans” she mentioned now have their own section of the SPD website. Chief O’Toole was joined by several reps from the Southwest Precinct; commander Capt. Pierre Davis is in our photo below with the mayor:

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After the chief spoke at 25th and Trenton, northeast of Westwood Village, a local resident talked about her hopes of getting a trash-attracting recycling box removed.

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With her in the photo above is Lemmis Stephens from AmeriCorps, who emceed the stops along the way. The box isn’t owned by the city, so it’s not clear how that problem might be tackled, but everywhere along the way, notes were being taken in profusion.

The subsequent route along 24th SW took us past a unique remodeling project we covered three years ago, then the house with the signs mentioned above; and then, to the 22nd/Henderson stairway mentioned in our first report. This is where Ami spoke.

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We didn’t get video of her comments about crime, safety, and the need for a cleanup, but here’s the clip she played of a former neighbor chased out of the area by all of the above and then some:

The former resident had hoped to be there in person but at the last minute had to send the clip instead. Ami, meantime, pointed to the tangle of brush along the stairway and pleaded with SDOT (which manages most city stairways) to help neighbors clean it up, to discourage vandals and drug dealers from hanging out. She got a promise of help with that; she also asked for trash cans and lighting.

As the group turned west and downhill toward the east side of Westwood Village, the mayor walked with South Delridge community advocate Mike Riedel, who spoke with him about not only crime/safety concerns but also neighbors’ interest in community planning.

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Much of the area is part of an “urban village” that’s had no investment. Riedel explained that the city had told community members there was no money for that planning; the mayor said he wasn’t sure why they had gotten that answer.

Arriving on the perimeter of Westwood Village, what the group didn’t see was as much of note as what they did see.

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While we had word from SPD before a cleanup in part of Roxhill Park last week, we didn’t hear about what Kirk Keppler of Wyatt’s Jewelers (WSB sponsor) says was a sweep of the shopping center, including panhandlers, pre-walk. He expressed his ongoing concerns to Councilmember Herbold.

Back on the sidewalk along the south side of Westwood Village, the transit center came into view.

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Chris Stripinis, transportation committee head for the Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council, walked with the mayor to point out the concerns that WWRHAH’s long been lobbying to get fixed, including the crossing conditions on Barton by the RapidRide stop. At the next official speaking stop, near that crosswalk, an SDOT rep promised some help is on the way:

That’s where more unscheduled questioning broke in – asking for details of the improvements, and wondering if the long-promised lighting alongside Roxhill Park would ever be arriving.

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Then, it was across the street and into the park, along its south edge, and past the “bog.” WWRHAH co-chair Amanda Kay Helmick was walking with Murray at this point, talking about the park’s challenges, including the hydrology challenges related to its bog.

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Then the walk reached its endpoint on the west side of Roxhill Park, near the revitalized playground, whose story was told by Mat McBride:

He also spoke of his community advocacy helping WWRHAH get going – of note if you listened through the prism of the mayor’s plan to cut ties with neighborhood district councils (McBride is chair of the Delridge NDC and led the meeting it hosted last week as a rally of sorts with NDC members from around the city):

But ultimately there were no words of discord, and the mayor took the microphone for his closing remarks:

He promised community members that the city “will work with you.” Conversations ensued; sunset approached. Longstanding concerns lingered, but there was a bit of hope in the sunset, that help might could be on the way.

17 Replies to "VIDEO, PHOTOS: See and hear what happened on the Westwood/Roxhill Find It, Fix It Walk"

  • PG July 26, 2016 (8:46 am)

    Thanks to everyone who turned out for this walk and voiced concerns, I’m sorry I was unable to make it.

  • Kimbee2 July 26, 2016 (8:53 am)

    Well done to city staff and the volunteers that spent the past few weeks working together to plan this walk! 

  • Tamsen Spengler July 26, 2016 (9:48 am)

    How many ethnic groups or people of color, renters, young families or millennials were there? Did DON provide interpreters?

    • WSB July 26, 2016 (9:58 am)

      There was no roll call. If you look at our photos and video, we have various crowd shots, if you want to try to make age/race guesses. I can confirm there was at least one interpreter, offering Spanish translation – she was called to the podium at the start to make an announcement. How to determine who in a crowd is a renter and who’s a property owner … maybe if the city wants to figure that out, they’ll start asking for a show of hands at the start of events. – TR

    • mei nozynski July 26, 2016 (12:20 pm)

      Great questions, Tamsen.  Thank you for asking.

      I can only speak for and PRAISE my super supportive neighbors around 8800 24th Ave SW block because as their Block Watch Captain I know them personally.  I was asked by D.O.N. to “walk and talk” with Mayor Murray for our little urban neighborhood.

      Before the event, Ami P. (my incredible community-bonding collaborator who addressed the 22nd Ave/Barton St. stairs clean up) and I asked our 24th Ave SW neighbors to either walk with us or come outside when the Mayor was walking by to show their support.  This request created a “parade” of people on 8800 24th Ave which was a wonderful sight to see and feel.  

      An elderly Vietnamese-speaking family did not feel comfortable enough to speak but were on the street to show their support.  I made sure this gesture was known and called out to them in acknowledgement by name.  Mayor Murray saw this. 

      We have a great El Salvadorean family that has been our neighbors for over a decade.  Three generations walked with us to Roxhill Park.  They were aided by a Spanish-speaking interpreter to communicate directly to Mayor Murray.  Being present, I got the impression their matriarch, Marta, felt validated and her words were valued by Mayor Murray.  I could see she truly appreciated the few minutes of conversation with Mayor Murray as I did as well.  

      Our African-American neighbor, Naomi, walked with us in solidarity asking for safer streets with traffic calming methods (speed humps, traffic circle, and signs) and 22nd Ave/Barton St. stairs to be changed into a more welcoming and safer location for locals to walk through.

      Michael (who lives on 24th Ave SW) and his lovely girlfriend of color walked with us from the P-patch.  I believe they are under the age of 32 and represented our Millennials. 

      Bea, our Japanese-American neighbor, walked with us part of the way as well to support change at our stairs to Barton St. and to encourage changing our transit system for a safer neighborhood.

      The Faulkners made a point to gather their FOUR generations of family members (>15 people) at their house on 8800 24th Ave.  Their family’s age range is from toddler to 80’s.   They have resided at their home for over 40 years and we pray for many more years to come.

      We have a lot of children and young families on our block, 8800 24th Ave SW.  This is why safer and slower traffic coming through 24th Ave SW is so IMPORTANT to us.  People love walking by our block because it is so lovely and inviting, a calm spot from the noisy urban center near-by.  We do not have sidewalks and there have been too numerous incidences of pedestrians, dog-walkers, teens walking to school, and children playing or learning how to ride their little bicycles who have been almost run-over by speeding cars.  This is so upsetting, it hits the viscera.

      Our proposed solution for 24th Ave SW is multiple speed humps and a traffic circle with signage to let drivers know they are going through a RESIDENTIAL area.

      Personally, I am biracial (Asian and Caucasian), gregarious, somewhat articulate and appreciate and love celebrating all cultures.  For the benefit of OUR small urban community that we developed around 24th Ave SW, I feel these small skills have helped me communicate with our English, Spanish and Vietnamese-speaking neighbors.  Thus, we have successfully connected our multicultural block.

      Did this help answer part of your question, Tamsen?

      We are appreciative of all the wonderful families we have and we are looking forward to celebrating together on August 2nd at OUR Night Out BLOCK Party!

      – mei

  • candrewb July 26, 2016 (10:06 am)

    Did the other mayors go to city functions with that much security? Honest question, not being snarky. I see Constantine quite a bit by his lonesome…

  • Nancy Folsom July 26, 2016 (10:17 am)

    I _love_ the yellow house people. 

    • mei nozynski July 26, 2016 (10:52 am)

      We love the family in the yellow house on 24th Ave SW as well (with the signs in front of their house).  

      They are great neighbors.

  • Chuck July 26, 2016 (1:33 pm)

    Powerful video from a woman in a powerless situation. When the cops/city turn their back on you, where can you turn? I don’t blame her a bit for moving on. Wake up, Mayor! Get the cops you need, get them on the street and put an end to this kind of crap. While your visit to this area are a START, the real question is what took you so long? And, what do you plan to do now that you’ve seen firsthand how your (largely unpoliced, Wild West) Metro hub is ruining that neighborhood? Beyond infuriating.  

  • Josh July 26, 2016 (3:34 pm)

    Thanks WSB for great coverage! I went on the walk as well, I expected more opportunity to share our concerns but know if I wanted to talk to the Mayor or Police Chief I could have.

    I got the feeling the higher ups were bored. I watched the Police Chief, and especially Scott Kubley, going through the motions (not meant to be mean, just my opinion/observation). There’s no doubt the bus hub is a MAJOR contributor to the riff-raff, crime, homeless people in Roxhill Park, and making Westwood an uninviting place – which truly could be a neighborhood asset.

    If you’re at the park with your kids, and have to use the restroom, it’s pretty scary walking by the “hangout” at the bathroom entry. And shopping at Westwood is a joke. Great summer nights it would be awesome to hang out there, grab an ice cream cone, etc., but the place is going down hill fast.

  • iggy July 26, 2016 (4:06 pm)

    Thanks for the in-depth coverage WSB.  These walks are a great idea but the fact they are pre-set and correographed definitely takes away from participants seeing what those of us who take public transportation to shop at Westwood Village put up with.  I invite the Mayor and Police Chief, dressed in street-casual clothes  (not suits,) to wait for the Rapid Ride some weekday around 4:00 pm and see firsthand the unsanitary conditions (trash, food waste, vomit, etc.) and the loiterers who make it difficult for people to want to shop at Westwood Village.    METRO, especially, needs to step up its cleaning of the RR stop, which is one of the filthiest in the City.   

  • Tamsen Spengler July 26, 2016 (5:00 pm)

    Thank you Mei Nozynski, I’m glad you were able to get your neighbors to participate and show the diversity in your neighborhood. I hope their voices continue to be heard.    

  • Cool Breeze July 26, 2016 (5:25 pm)

    I’m sorry to have missed this event, but wanted to add my two thumbs up to getting rid of the recycling station on Trenton St.  I’ve always been curious about it… like who runs it and is it actually being used for its intended purpose?  Mostly it appears to be a magnet for illegal dumping and that whole vacant lot behind it and the cut-through pathway is litter central too.  My kids and I have gone down with trash bags a number of times, but it never seems to make a dent.  It could be such a beautiful green space for the neighborhood if people stopped using it as a giant trash bin.

    I’d also like to echo the need for traffic calming along 24th Ave SW as well.  I remember overhearing a fellow bus rider on the #22 remark how much she liked this street because it had no sidewalks and that she always thought of it as “The Country Road.”  Although it may look charming, the lack of sidewalks presents a real hazard for pedestrians and during the school year, 24th is traversed by many students going to / leaving Denny / Sealth.  We had speed bumps put in on our portion of 24th a few years ago, but I honestly cannot tell that it has made too great a difference.  Vehicles often zip right between them, ignoring the speed limit signs completely.  So yeah, sidewalks would be welcome safety feature on 24th between Barton and Thistle.

  • Rod Clark July 27, 2016 (2:01 pm)

    The Longfellow Creek P-Patch is still in good shape after the volunteer clean-up two years ago. That was such a good effort – thank you to everyone who did that. I was shocked to see so many people suddenly out there one day restoring everything. It’s held up really well.

    The vandals have left the P-Patch alone, and have moved further back into the park.

    Thanks to everyone from the neighborhood and from the City who came out yesterday to walk around the area.

    http://rodclark.net/longfellow-sealth-park

  • jason July 27, 2016 (3:14 pm)

    My wife was the person who spent so much of her time campaigning and going door to door acquiring signatures to get speed bumps put in on our block (8600) of 24th Ave SW.  We were disappointed with the results to say the least.  The city put in the “split” speed bumps, that now just encourage drivers to speed through the middle of the road.  What a waste of time and money. They accomplished nothing!

  • Rod Clark July 27, 2016 (3:55 pm)

    Jason, 

    As far as I can figure out, the split bumps are there to let Metro buses travel along that street without having problems with the bumps. On an ordinary non-bus street they’d use normal speed bumps.

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