Thanks to Scott for the top photo and the tip that building demolition has begun at Arbor Heights Elementary, a milestone for the project to replace the dilapidated old buildings with a brand-new school. We went over and got there just in time to photograph the backhoe doing a little more work on the north side of the southern building before parking for the day:
As reported here on August 20th, the city Hearing Examiner rejected an appeal of the demolition-permit granting. Another appeal was rejected in May; that one involved the ruling that the project didn’t need a full environmental review. Following that first decision, a meeting was held to update the community on the construction plan (WSB coverage here). The timetable shared at that meeting called for demolition to begin in August, which now, technically, it has; it also noted that there would be a pause from November to February, when the second phase of the project would begin, by which time the district would decide if the school would be built to hold up to 500 students, or up to 650. The new school is supposed to open in two years; in the meantime, AHES is sharing the Boren building in North Delridge with the school permanently housed there, K-5 STEM.
(Click image to open full-size PDF version of map)
SDOT is now more than halfway through the microsurfacing work in Arbor Heights (and part of south Fauntleroy), and says there have been some changes along the way (as noticed by at least one commenter on our previous story), so it’s revised the map. From spokesperson Caylen Beaty:
The original map we provided contained some mapping errors, so I’ve attached the updated version. As the work has progressed this week, the contractor has been providing correct information to residents and posting “No Parking” signs at least three days in advance of the work.
The work is on track and we anticipate it will wrap up by next Tuesday, August 26. Our thanks to the Arbor Heights community for their attention and cooperation as we work to maintain the residential streets of Arbor Heights.
The microsurfacing plan was first announced back in January, when SDOT explained that this process is now used instead of chip seal to refresh residential streets.
(WSB July photo of awaiting-demolition Arbor Heights Elementary)
The decision is now published for the second appeal related to the Arbor Heights Elementary rebuild, which has had key elements on hold pending the hearing and ruling. City Hearing Examiner Sue Tanner has rejected the appeal by affirming the city decision to allow demolition of the old AHES. Here’s her ruling (PDF), or read it embedded below:
Another alert from SDOT – the “microsurfacing” work in Arbor Heights (and south Fauntleroy) is under way. You might already have seen the crews doing advance weed-clearing work along the roads in recent days. Here’s a larger map and full info. It’s been seven months since SDOT’s original announcement of this work.
(WSB Tuesday photo of awaiting-demolition Arbor Heights Elementary)
Three years ago, demolition of the old Denny International Middle School was well under way within a month of the end of the school year. This year, though a month has passed since the last class at Arbor Heights Elementary School, the backhoes aren’t even onsite yet. That’s because the permits haven’t been finalized, since another appeal is awaiting a hearing.
This is separate from the appeal that was argued and rejected in May, challenging the decision that a full environmental review wasn’t needed. This time, the appeal is for the land-use permit itself, and the fact that the demolition permit was approved in the same action. In all, the appeal statement by four area residents and district watchdog Chris Jackins – see it here – lists eight points.
Though a September 15th hearing date was announced by the appeal notice that appeared in this week’s first Land Use Information Bulletin, the city Hearing Examiner’s files now have it scheduled for August 11th. The move was at the request of the district, according to a letter in the online case files, which quotes district staff as saying the extra month would add $70,000 to the project cost.
SPS spokesperson Tom Redman confirms to WSB that appeals for both the Arbor Heights and Genesee Hill projects (the latter has a hearing August 5th, as reported here July 14th) are now pushing back the timeline: “Limited construction activities can be performed on-site, but the bulk of the work cannot commence at either site until we have received MUP [master use permit] approval from the City of Seattle.” He said the district doesn’t know yet if the opening of either new school will be delayed as a result. The new Arbor Heights is scheduled to open in two years, the new Genesee Hill in a year and a half.
P.S. Appeal hearings are open to the public, though only for observation, not for participation/comment. Next month’s August 5th Genesee Hill hearing and August 11th Arbor Heights hearing are both scheduled to start 9 am on those dates in the city Hearing Examiner’s headquarters on the 40th floor of the Municipal Tower downtown.
8:33 PM: Firefighters are arriving at a house fire in Arbor Heights near 34th and 102nd (map), reporting black smoke and also that ammunition is going off in the house – so they’ll be fighting it from outside.
(Photo texted by Joe)
8:38 PM: Scanner now indicates they don’t believe there’s more ammunition in the building and they are changing firefighting tactics.
8:48 PM: Our crew is at the scene. No word yet on whether anyone’s been hurt. They believe everyone in the house got out safely.
— Colby Blanton (@colby_blanton) July 16, 2014
8:58 PM: Just talked again with our crew at the scene. The fire appears to be under control but there are still flare-ups of flames visible here and there. Way too soon to know what caused it.
Above this line, we’ve added a quick Instagram clip – you can see firefighters on the roof and hear the saws they’re using to ventilate the attic.
9:18 PM UPDATE: We’ve just talked again with firefighters. The fire began in a bedroom and spread up to the attic. The house has major damage and isn’t inhabitable. One person was inside when it started, and we’re told he got out OK, unhurt. The “ammunition going off” suspicion is now a mystery – we’re told the resident said there had been firearm(s)/ ammunition in there, belonging to a renter who moved out a few weeks ago, so whatever the bangs/pops were in the early going, they now don’t know. SFD’s investigator is en route to work on figuring out how the fire started.
ADDED 11:16 PM: From SFD: “Cause of West Seattle Arbor Heights fire is man using spray paint can & lighter to try and kill spider in the wall. Damage estimate $60k.”
Many kids in need avoid going hungry through free/reduced-price meals at school. So what happens in the summertime? The United Way One Million Meals Campaign helps provide free summer meals to kids and teens, and sent word today that they’ll be serving on Sundays, starting THIS Sunday (June 29th), 1-2 pm at Freedom Church (35th/Roxbury). Everyone 18 and under will be served, and kid/teen activities will be offered. UWKC also says you can find other summer-meal sites through this lookup.
One person was taken to the hospital by private ambulance after their motorcycle collided with a car in Arbor Heights. It happened at California/104th; the rider’s injuries are not life-threatening, but there was a major medical response, and that plus an unrelated medic response not far away led to many a siren in AH this past hour. Our crew was told at the scene that the woman and child who were in the car are not hurt.
(Outage zone, screengrabbed from City Light map)
12:29 AM: Thanks to Kevin and Jason for initial tips (email@example.com) – the City Light outage map now confirms an outage in Arbor Heights and Brace Point. They both reported an explosion-type sound preceding the power problem (for Jason, it’s out; for Kevin, it flickered). City Light says 134 households are affected and estimates restoration by 3 am (remember, it’s always more of a “guesstimate” at this point).
1:29 AM: The map now blames the outage on “tree” and estimates power back by 9 am.
9 AM NOTE: Jason says in comments that the power returned around 4:45.
Here in the wee hours of the first full day of summer vacation for thousands of local kids, we have one more scene from the last day of classes, ever, at the “Original Arbor Heights,” as dubbed by our trusty parent correspondent. Also nicknamed, that’s “The Famous Mr. Wilkie” in the crosswalk, last one to enlist the crossing guards’ assistance before the soon-to-be-demolished old school went out of service. Reports our correspondent:
(He is) the heart and soul of The Original Arbor Heights Elementary school. Did you know that he went to kindergarten in the same Room 4 in which he has been teaching? Yup. Known to many, loved by all.
AH will share Boren with STEM for the next two years, while its brand-new school is built on this same campus.
Thanks to our Arbor Heights Elementary parent correspondent for sharing that photo from today’s 5th-grade graduation ceremony. The final graduate of the last 5th-grade class at “Original Arbor Heights,” as our tipster dubs it, was Max Zuber. The building is scheduled for demolition in late summer or fall, as per the construction schedule laid out at a community meeting two weeks ago. Tomorrow is the last day of classes there, as is the case all around the Seattle Public Schools district.
While in Arbor Heights, we stopped by the future site of Westside School (WSB sponsor) for a look at the dramatic renovation scene at the former Hillcrest Presbyterian Church. The former sanctuary is basically hollowed out, as you can see, looking over the fence from 34th SW. Westside will spend one more year at its current campus, the former EC Hughes Elementary, leased from Seattle Public Schools, before moving to the new site. Westside’s 2013-2014 school year ended yesterday, and this past week, the school had its first middle-school graduation, having added 6th-8th grades over the past three years. Construction at the new site began just over a month ago.
P.S. We recently asked SPS to reconfirm what happens to Hughes once Westside moves; district spokesperson Teresa Wippel replied, “There are no plans at this point for EC Hughes other than to have it available for emergency use/to hold students when other schools are being remodeled, etc. No plans to lease it to anyone else, either.”
Until 6 pm, the community’s welcome to join Arbor Heights Elementary students, staff, families at the school carnival – autograph the soon-to-be-demolished building, especially if you’re an alum! Games, food, prizes too.
ADDED 5:30 PM: Thanks to our anonymous parent source for the top photo; we stopped by for these:
The “Angry Birds” toss is on the paved playground that’s seen better days – the new school will include an open field:
A tropical touch:
And a hand-lettered poster with a reminder about the next big event:
That’s Tuesday, 6-8 pm, a community gathering for an official farewell to the old school (though the last day of classes isn’t until June 19th).
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
The new Arbor Heights Elementary School will be built in two phases, project managers told community members last night, and remains on track for welcoming students on the first day of school in September 2016.
Not that long ago, principal Christy Collins reminded the ~40 attendees as the meeting began, the new school wasn’t slated to open until 2019. She’s been principal for three years, and that’s how long the discussion about a replacement school has been under way.
Thornton Creek did it – can Roxhill Bog do it too? That’s one of the neighborhood issues on the agenda for today’s featured calendar highlight, the Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council meeting. Live/work in any of those neighborhoods? Go check out WWRHAH at 6:15 pm, Southwest Branch Library (35th/Henderson). See the agenda in our calendar listing, and the calendar itself has many more events for today/tonight, including nightlife!
In two weeks – 6-8 pm Tuesday, June 10th – alumni, staff and students past and present, neighbors, everyone’s invited to celebrate Arbor Heights Elementary before the demolition and reconstruction. Scroll through the official invitation:
(If you can’t read it in the window, see it as a PDF here.)
P.S. Before then, if you’re interested in an update on the plan for the new school, here’s our previously published announcement for the district’s June 2nd meeting.
No formal environmental review for the new Arbor Heights Elementary School project that’s replacing the crumbling original 65-year-old school. That’s what the district originally had decided, issuing a Determination of Non-Significance; more than two dozen neighbors appealed the decision, arguing their case at a May 8th hearing (WSB coverage here), and now the appeal ruling is in, starting with an introductory letter by Superintendent José Banda:
(If you can’t see the Scribd embed above, here’s the document as a PDF.) If you want to skip ahead, the conclusions of Margaret Klockars, the hearing examiner who handled the case, start on page 7, after a recap of what the district originally decided and the points that were argued. Bottom line: While Klockars agreed that the checklist leading to the original Determination of Non-Significance had a few errors and omissions, she believed the supplemental information provided later by the district showed no major impact in areas of concern from traffic to trees, so the DNS conclusion “was not erroneous.”
SIDE NOTE: As reported here last night, the district has set a community meeting June 2nd for questions/answers/updates on the project, which will start after the school year ends and everything is moved out of the to-be-demolished buildings. AHES will hold classes at the Boren Building for the next two years, with the new school expected to be ready for fall 2016.
(Rendering of new Arbor Heights Elementary)
If you’re interested in the new Arbor Heights Elementary School, your next chance to get project updates, and to get questions answered in person, is less than two weeks away. Seattle Public Schools has announced a community meeting for Monday, June 2nd, 6:30-8 pm at the current AHES.
The meeting will be presented by representatives of Seattle Public Schools BEX IV capital projects team and Bassetti Architects, and will include information about the project’s building and site design. You will be able to learn more about the project’s scope of work and construction schedule. You will be able to share comments and ask questions.
Meantime, we’re still awaiting word of a ruling on the appeal of the project’s no-formal-environmental-review-needed decision (here’s our coverage of the May 8th hearing).
No environmental review for new Arbor Heights Elementary? Neighbors’ concerns aired at appeal hearingMay 9, 2014 at 9:00 am | In Arbor Heights, West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 50 Comments
(Rendering of new Arbor Heights Elementary)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
They say they’re not trying to stop it from being built.
But neighbors and others concerned about the new, larger Arbor Heights Elementary School say something is missing from the plan: A full-scale environmental review.
So they appealed the ruling that the project doesn’t need that kind of review, and their appeal led to a hearing that lasted much of the day Thursday in a meeting room at Seattle Public Schools headquarters in SODO.
It brought some surprises – including last-minute district research exploring some of the points for which the challengers said an environmental review was needed before the new school is built on the site of the old one starting this summer.
Appeal hearings don’t result in instant decisions, so a written report will be forthcoming. But here’s how the hearing unfolded:
11:40 AM: A sizable Seattle Fire response has headed back to the 10000 block of 39th SW, scene of two fires at one house in a little more than a week. (update) First crew on scene says “no fire, just smoke” – so they’re putting water on it.
11:52 AM: Our crew on scene says the smoke is mostly coming from the back of the house (added, photo showing new fencing in back):
No flames seen so far, as noted previously.
12:09 PM: For reference – the first fire was on April 29th; second one, early Monday morning. The cause of the first one has yet to be determined; one of the home’s two residents, both said to be in their 70s, was still in the hospital at last report.
4:42 PM: As AG notes in comments, SFD announced this afternoon that overheated wiring caused the original fire on April 29th and that “residual embers” were to blame for the flareups today and two days ago.
5:34 AM: The fire is reported to be under control, per scanner traffic. Just added video from neighbor John (who also called to tip us about the fire – thank you). The cause of last week’s fire had yet to be determined, as of our most recent check with SFD last Friday.
5:53 AM: Added that photo from our crew on scene. SFD says no injuries, since house was vacant.
6:03 AM: Metro says the northbound Route 21-EX is rerouting off SW 100th because of this, between 37th SW and 40th SW – use stops “east of 37th or west of 40th,” per text. Meantime, SFD spokesperson Lt. Sue Stangl has just provided an on-scene media briefing. She confirms that they still hadn’t finished investigating last week’s fire – one of the home’s two residents is still in the hospital. A crew will stay on scene here through the day on “fire watch” (as had been done last week).
6:44 AM: The bus reroute is over. Most fire vehicles have been dismissed from the scene. (Added: Our video of Lt. Stangl’s briefing, in which she discusses the possibility it “rekindled.”)
(First two photos by WSB’s Patrick Sand)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Before construction starts tomorrow at the new Arbor Heights location of Westside School (WSB sponsor), its students have joined in a unique groundbreaking ceremony.
They traveled to the site at 10400 34th SW – formerly Hillcrest Presbyterian Church – on Tuesday afternoon to tour and celebrate.
It was a field trip, and yet it was also “heading home,” the theme for the year ahead, according to Westside’s head of school Kate Mulligan, who notes it was also the inscription on commemorative T-shirts:
(Photo courtesy Westside School)
The theme honors the fact that the ~330 students and ~60 staff members of Westside will finally have a permanent home.
(Photos taken this morning by WSB’s Patrick Sand)
New information about last night’s house fire in the 10000 block of 39th SW in Arbor Heights (WSB as-it-happened coverage here): Its cause is currently listed as “undetermined,” but Seattle Fire spokesperson Kyle Moore tells WSB that could change: They haven’t been able to speak yet with the two residents, both in their 70s, who remain hospitalized, and it’s still not safe for investigators to go in and look for evidence of how it started.
You can see why, looking at our photos from a trip back to the scene this morning, with smoke still rising from the house:
As we reported last night, the house is considered to be a total loss; this morning, SFD estimates the damage at $350,000 for the house, $100,000 for the contents.
The fire was first reported around 7:40 pm; SFD says it was under control about half an hour after its crews started arriving.
(WED. AM UPDATE: Fire guts Arbor Heights home, 2 residents hurt, cause not yet known, scroll to see new photo)
(Photo courtesy Tim Eannarino)
FIRST REPORT, 7:49 PM: Fire crews have rushed to the 10000 block of 39th SW for a house-fire call. More as we get it.
(Photo by Tony Bradley)
7:54 PM: The callout keeps getting bigger. Smoke visible for a ways around.
(WSB photo by Patrick Sand, substituted for earlier cameraphone pic)
Scanner traffic says the fire started in the basement and that there is a vehicle on fire at the site.
(Photo courtesy Christi Stapleton)
7:58 PM: Our crew just arrived on scene. Paramedics are treating one person. Black smoke continues pouring from the home. Flames are visible too.
(Added: WSB video, including the moment when fire broke through the roof)
It’s being described on the scanner as a “defensive” firefight.
(WSB photo by Christopher Boffoli)
8:11 PM: The fire continues to intensify. Neighbors are tweeting – thanks to Colby for this photo:
— Colby Blanton (@colby_blanton) April 30, 2014
8:20 PM: Two neighboring homes are at risk, according to SFD via Twitter, also confirming that two people are being treated by medics at the scene.
(Photo by Kevin McClintic)
The fire is “tapped,” our crew at the scene reports, which is one milestone toward getting it under control. The SFD public-info officer is there so we and other media will be able to get comprehensive info in addition to what we’re seeing and hearing firsthand.
(Photo courtesy Christi Stapleton)
8:29 PM UPDATE: We just talked with SFD spokesperson Kyle Moore, who says water pressure was NOT a problem, but Seattle Public Utilities did increase the pressure to help with the firefight (we heard that mentioned on the scanner, too). [Added - editor's note: Those questions stem from a problem with hydrants in Arbor Heights that hampered the fight against a big house fire in 2011. There have since been major upgrades.) He says the two people are still being treated. No idea yet how this started. Moore also says two neighboring homes were evacuated because of danger the fire might spread, and everybody got out OK.
(This photo and next one by Tony Bradley)
8:47 PM: Continuing to add photos – thanks to everyone who has shared theirs – and will be adding ours too as the crew processes them back at base, including video of Moore’s briefing.
9 PM: Sounds like firefighters will be able to go inside. (added) Neighbor Christi says crews are trying to make sure it’s safe for neighbors to go back into their undamaged homes.
9:23 PM: Added – video of Moore’s briefing, including more details on the two people who were inside the house and were being treated for burns/smoke inhalation. We also added, higher up in the story, video showing the flames erupting through the roof following the dark smoke that could at one point be seen from some distance away.
9:50 PM: Earlier we had mentioned a vehicle – above, a photo by WSB contributing photojournalist Christopher Boffoli. We’re going back over to check on where things stand now. SFD’s Moore tweeted a few minutes ago that the man and woman who were hurt are in their 70s; both suffered smoke inhalation; both were taken to Harborview Medical Center in stable condition; the man also suffered burns. The house was ruled a total loss; the fire’s cause is still under investigation.
10:36 PM: Firefighters are still on scene; light smoke is still rising from the house. They tell us it’s not safe for the investigator to go in yet, so what caused the fire likely won’t be known any sooner than tomorrow. Since both residents of the house were taken to the hospital, there’s no Red Cross or other relief agency on scene.
1:10 AM: Another photo from neighbor Christi – Engine 30, on fire watch. With major fires like this, there’s usually an engine on scene (they rotate) for many hours afterward, just in case of a flareup.
10:12 AM WEDNESDAY: Still no word of the cause but firefighters remain at the scene; the house is still smoldering, and they have been continuing to work to ventilate it:
When there is word of the cause, we’ll publish a new story.
Thanks to the Arbor Heights Elementary School parent who shared the photo from today’s Young Authors Day, an annual celebration of students’ work writing, editing, and publishing work (by reading it aloud in a small group – each group has students from kindergarten through 5th grade). After the small-group readings, there’s an all-school autograph recess, during which our tipster photographed teacher David Wilkie, with young fans clustered around.
ARBOR HEIGHTS SIDE NOTE: Principal Christy Collins and K-5 STEM principal Dr. Shannon McKinney have sent families an update about the status of planning for the schools’ co-location starting next year (AH will be at Boren for two years while its new campus is built) – you can read it online here.
Busy agenda at last night’s Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council (WWRHAH) meeting – police, transit, and more.
TRANSIT HUB UPDATE/WESTWOOD SAFETY: More progress in a longrunning major issue for WWRHAH – chair Amanda Kay Helmick says Metro is going to make small adjustments to the “wall of buses” stop along the south side of Barton (WSB photo, above, from coverage of December WWRHAH walking tour). First, the 21: Instead of being outbound from 26th/Barton, they’re going to move up to layover and leave from 35th/Roxbury. Helmick said 3-6 pm was the prime time for the “wall.” Helmick said she toured Westwood Village with an SDOT rep who said the 30th/Barton crosswalks would be reinstalled/repainted, as will those at 35th/Henderson, by the library, and 25th/Henderson on the east side of Westwood Village. They also plan crosswalk studies at 25th/Trenton and 29th/Barton. The 26th/Barton RapidRide stop will not get a 3-way stop, she added, but some sort of visibility signage is being evaluated. The bus zone was pushed back as promised, Helmick said, but she thinks it would benefit from a little more distance. Meantime, what if a transit hub were created IN Westwood Village – on the northwest side by the post office? WWRHAH wondered. One attendee brought up the problematic area near McDonald’s on the south side; Helmick said she’s heard that the McDonald’s is going to be remodeled and that will address some of the challenges. She said later that WWRHAH is also wondering if maybe Westwood Village should be included in the pedestrian-retail zone review that is under way at the city level right now.
The semifinals of the Seattle Public Library‘s Global Reading Challenge are under way downtown – and we have our first word of a West Seattle team making it to the GRC’s finals: SPL’s Mary Palmer tells us the Super Ultimate Nerdy Ninjas from Arbor Heights Elementary did well enough today to advance to the March 18th final. One more West Seattle team has yet to have its semifinal round – that’s Roxhill, tomorrow.
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