West Seattle, Washington
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
With both walking tours for the Fauntleroy Boulevard project over, big decisions are ahead for the project.
We covered both tours – Thursday afternoon (here’s our report) started in sunshine; this morning had an even bigger turnout – “impressive,” as one SDOT staffer deemed it –
despite starting in steady rain.
The route and the stops were the same – from outside LA Fitness at Fauntleroy/Alaska/39th to West Seattle Brewing at 4515 Fauntleroy Way. The fact the project is focused only on that stretch is a disappointment to one of today’s participants, René Commons from the Junction Neighborhood Organization, who lives near the 35th SW entrance to the West Seattle Bridge and had been lobbying for pedestrian and landscaping improvements extending that far – not currently in the 60-percent-designed plan to transform Fauntleroy Way through The Triangle:
One of the decisions to be made about the entire stretch is what will happen during construction, which project spokesperson Kate Cole – who, like Thursday, led about half the participants on the tour, while her colleague Rachel McCaffrey led the other half – said is more likely to start in early 2018 than late 2017.
“It’s still early,” they stressed, repeatedly. And yet it’s not so early in the design phase, which got to 60 percent before the project was shelved in 2014 pending funding.
The full-route decision to be made involves detours during construction, which is expected to last at least a year. Right now, SDOT is mulling two options: Keep Fauntleroy open one lane each way, which could stretch construction out to 15 months, or keep it open to westbound traffic only, while eastbound traffic is detoured onto SW Alaska. Asked whether left turns would be allowed during construction, SDOT staff said yes. But limiting Fauntleroy to westbound traffic would be a challenge for businesses who have eastbound customers in the morning:
The other decision to be made is about the right-turn pockets currently proposed for elimination – onto SW Oregon on the westbound side, onto Avalon Way on the eastbound side:
With three years passing since the studies that led to the elimination decision, SDOT is doing new studies now, and McCaffrey says the results should arrive in about a month. When those studies for the 2014 design were done, project team member Peter DeBoldt said, they showed a “slight increase in congestion” with the removal of the turn pockets. But as tour participants pointed out, conditions in the area have changed – anyone who drives SW Oregon between California and Fauntleroy knows how much busier it’s become; the residential areas lining it have densified, with hundreds of apartments added by projects including Oregon 42 and Junction Flats, and townhouse/rowhouse projects replacing some of the single-family houses in the area.
So the traffic-study results will be awaited with interest; how those results will be communicated to you is still being decided, she said when we talked during the tour-end event at West Seattle Brewing.
And they’re still planning what they’ll do when the final design is complete, likely “early summer,” according to McCaffrey. (We of course will continue reporting on this, but she also suggested you join the project e-mail list.)
Right now, they’re also urging businesses to talk with the city Office of Economic Development, which had a rep at the end of the tour again today.
City Councilmember Lisa Herbold, who was on today’s tour (photo above), had said during the recent Fauntleroy Way Association launch meeting that she wanted to see OED get more deeply involved. But so far, there’s been no talk of possible business compensation, as was eventually offered during the controversial 23rd Avenue project in the Central District/Capitol Hill area.
“We’ve learned from the 23rds of the world,” McCaffrey said today, as she had on Thursday.
If you’ve missed the general summary of the Fauntleroy Boulevard project, here’s how Cole summarized it at the start of today’s tour:
That’s SDOT project manager Norene Pen at left in the video, in which Councilmember Herbold also gave a quick explanation of why utilities are being “consolidated” rather than undergrounded in the project.
The two big decisions we mentioned above aren’t the only ones remaining – along the route, SDOT acknowledged the request for a break in the median in the 37th SW vicinity, and said they have to evaluate the “tradeoffs” that might generate. And they continued to clarify project points along the way today; someone asked about curb bulbs, and project manager Pen said they’ll be used on side streets to shorten crossing distance, not to narrow Fauntleroy, where the travel lanes will be “about the same” in width, another question was answered.
Other questions remain about how this plan will interface with and anticipate a future that is still in motion – with much of the surrounding area zoned for development much higher than what’s currently in place, even before potential HALA Mandatory Housing Affordability upzoning, and with Sound Transit light rail due to come to West Seattle in less than a decade and a half, and station-location decisions to be made long before then.
HOW TO HAVE A SAY: To tell the project team what you think about the design, landscaping, and key questions such as which detour option to use during construction (or – do you have another suggestion?), scroll down the official project page to find a form. You’ll also want to look at the boards that were shown at tour’s end – here (PDF), or embedded below:
McCaffrey says they will also come out and speak with community groups by request – e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org – as they did, for example, at last month’s West Seattle Transportation Coalition meeting.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Even outside peak commute times, motorized-vehicle traffic roars and rumbles through The Triangle on Fauntleroy Way, along the route of the now-in-final-planning-stages Fauntleroy Boulevard project. This afternoon, that posed challenges for the “talk” part of the first of two SDOT-led Walk-and-Talk Tours through the project zone.
More than 40 people turned out in the semi-surprise sunshine to walk along most of the route, eastbound from 39th/Alaska to Fauntleroy/Avalon, with two crossings along the way. Introductory speakers included longtime resident and community advocate Sharonn Meeks (below, with project manager Norene Pen):
Meeks reiterated that the project “has been in play” for many years and said, “We’re here as a community … not as ‘I want it, I don’t want it’.”
Two groups formed; we went along with the one led by project spokesperson Rachel McCaffrey, who recapped key points of the plan, including two travel lanes in each direction, and “consolidation of utilities” since the undergrounding requested by the community wasn’t part of the budget. Stops started with an explanation outside Trader Joe’s of how, since their current loading area will no longer exist, they’re going to load off 39th SW west of the store, with some in-lane loading in the middle of the night on Fauntleroy.
McCaffrey said TJ’s is “pretty happy” with what they worked out. Currently, they get two truck deliveries each night, one around 7 pm, one around 3 am. Next stop was the Parks-owned triangle by SW Oregon, where pedestrian improvements were the focus.
Discussion included the plan to change the overhead “fire signal” flashing lights to a full pedestrian-activated signal. Some questions included how that would be timed with the rest of the motorized-vehicle traffic flow on the road. Also noted at this stop, the plan to have “consistent, defined sidewalks” on both sides of Fauntleroy. Then came a chance – for those who haven’t experienced it – to see what it’s like crossing Fauntleroy in The Triangle. The amount of time allotted definitely wasn’t enough for ~20 people.
At the end of that crossing, outside Wardrobe Cleaners, tour participants got a look at the area that SDOT says will be turned into “green stormwater infrastructure.”
Someone pointed out a utility pole that seemed to be infringing on the pedestrian area. “We’re going to be moving a lot of utility poles,” McCaffrey acknowledged. Another question: How will the landscaped median areas be maintained? SDOT is accountable for right-of-way maintenance, but community group help would be great too, McCaffrey said. (Community groups actually have helped over the years – we’ve covered numerous cleanups in the Triangle/Gateway area – but their numbers have dwindled, among other challenges.) Project designer Mike Hendrix said they’re looking at “low maintenance” trees, too.
Outside the 4480 Fauntleroy Way building (Rudy’s Barbershop/Realfine Coffee), questions included just how much of the parking lot was really city right-of-way.
With questions about how businesses would be helped to survive the year-long construction period – a major topic at the recent launch meeting of the Fauntleroy Way Association – the SDOT reps pointed to city Office of Economic Development reps who were present, and suggested talking with them at the end of the tour.
After that, we missed the final scheduled stop because of unrelated breaking news. But we caught back up with the end of the tour inside West Seattle Brewing (4515 Fauntleroy Way SW), where participants were invited to check out more informational boards, talk one-on-one with SDOT reps, and chow down on pizza that WS Brewing baked at its Alki location and brought up to the Triangle for the occasion.
Also there, Jill Anholt, just announced this week as winner of the public-art contract for the project zone:
Anholt said she doesn’t have a preconceived plan for the work – she’s waiting to see the stories that community members tell. (Here’s how to share yours.) We asked what she’s done in the area most recently; turns out she has work at the newly opened Sound Transit Angle Lake station.
The second and final walking tour – at least for this phase of the feedback process – is on Saturday morning (March 18th), 10:30 am-noon. Same route – meet outside LA Fitness at 39th/Alaska.
From the “in case you were wondering too” file: Noticing that the new Fire Station 32 in The Triangle looks to be fairly far along in construction, we requested a progress report. It’s been 11 months since construction began in earnest with demolition of the old FS 32 at the same site. SFD spokesperson Kellie Randall tells WSB, “Construction is currently scheduled to end in late May. SFD is scheduled to take ownership and reoccupy the station in July. The project is currently under budget.”
As we reported in 2015, the new station will open 10 years later than originally promised in the levy approved by voters in 2003. Because of the last major component of the delay – caused by the re-bidding of the project – most of the Station 32 crew has been in a temporary setup at the future park site on 40th SW since 2015, long before construction began, except for Medic 32, which moved temporarily to Station 37 in Sunrise Heights.
A reminder, an update, and a followup, all related to the Fauntleroy Boulevard project:
WALK-AND-TALKS TOMORROW, SATURDAY: The two SDOT-hosted “Walk-and-Talk” tours announced last month are tomorrow and Saturday. On Thursday, it’s scheduled for noon-1:30 pm; Saturday, 10:30 am-noon, both starting outside LA Fitness at 39th SW/SW Alaska and continuing east to end at West Seattle Brewing, 4515 Fauntleroy Way SW. The plan, SDOT says, is to “share the latest design, discuss early construction planning, introduce the project team to the public, and gather feedback.”
PROJECT ARTIST ANNOUNCED: As with most such projects, this one will have public art, funded by the city’s 1% for Art program. SDOT announced this week that “a panel of community leaders, project staff and local artists selected Jill Anholt to develop the public art component.” The Vancouver, B.C.-based artist will be on tomorrow’s Walk-and-Talk tour. SDOT says she’ll be working with community suggestions:
Pick up a pre-paid postcard from a West Seattle Junction restaurant, coffee shop, or community center, fill in your West Seattle story, and mail it back to help inform the new art for Fauntleroy Way SW. You can also pick up a postcard at the Walk and Talks this week or fill out an online postcard on our project webpage.
According to the “call for art” from last year, the budget is $150,000.
ABOUT THE RIGHT-OF-WAY: As highlighted at the recent launch meeting of the Fauntleroy Way Association (WSB coverage here), one concern for some businesses along the route is that they’ll be losing parking. The city says its plan is to build entirely in the “right of way.” So we followed up with SDOT (which wasn’t at the community group’s meeting) to ask about the public/private property delineation in the area. Project spokesperson Rachel McCaffrey replied:
… in much of the project area, the sidewalk and street are poorly defined and people have become accustomed to using the public right-of-way for parking or loading. This means that people are sometimes driving and parking on the sidewalk. One of the main project goals is to organize the street to be more predictable and comfortable for all users. We achieve this, in part, by defining clear sidewalks, protected bike lanes, and vehicle lanes. Throughout the design process, we have been working with individual business owners to adjust our project designs for the right-of-way to accommodate their business operations; for example, by relocating loading zones and adjusting driveway placements.
The paved triangle just north of Wardrobe Cleaners is City-owned right-of-way. In the project design, this area will be converted into green stormwater infrastructure landscaping to help manage stormwater runoff. Based on our meetings with the owners of Wardrobe Cleaners, we have also incorporated into the design a “load zone driveway” in the right-of-way space between the new landscaping and the Wardrobe Cleaners’ building for customers to use for short-term loading.
At the 4480 Fauntleroy Way building, some of the area out front currently used as a parking lot is private property and some is public right-of-way. To access the parking area on private property, people drive their cars over the public sidewalk, and often inadvertently end up parking on the sidewalk/public right-of-way. We have been working with the property owner and business owners at this building to adjust the driveway placements in the design to maximize the amount of parking space on their private property. Even with these changes, the parking capacity in front of their building will be reduced from the mix of private and public space they’re accustomed to using for parking.
Even if right-of-way has been used in that way for a long time, McCaffrey says, “Washington State courts have held that property owned by governmental entities, including the City of Seattle, is not subject to adverse possession by private individuals or entities.” (Around residential property, for example, the “right of way” doesn’t end at the sidewalk.)
McCaffrey also addressed some concerns raised by Rudy’s Barbershop reps in relation to the recent meeting:
They noted that the design is based on out-of-date traffic data. Based on community feedback, we are in the process of conducting an additional traffic study on Fauntleroy to validate the findings of our original traffic study in 2012. We will share this data and any design adjustments it indicates with the community next month. Rudy’s Barbershop also raised concerns that the project does not add new pedestrian crossings. The project adds an additional crosswalk across Fauntleroy at 38th Ave SW. We have heard requests from the community for an additional crosswalk between SW Avalon Way and SW Oregon St. As we refine the design, we are examining the feasibility of adding an additional mid-block crosswalk in this area; as a part of our current traffic study, we are considering how this addition would affect safety and vehicle movements.
We’ve also asked about the status of the crosswalk that is supposed to be installed just west of the project zone, at 39th/Alaska/Fauntleroy, as part of the “public benefit package” for the alley vacation granted to The Whittaker (WSB sponsor) project, and are waiting to hear back from SDOT on that.
ADDED 1:52 PM: The reply on that: “The Whole Foods/Whittaker project design includes construction of a new crosswalk across SW Alaska St (crossing from the Whittaker to the Spruce, as you described). Based on our understanding of the Whittaker’s construction schedule, their project – including the new crosswalk – will be complete by the time we begin construction on the Fauntleroy Boulevard Project, anticipated to begin in late 2017 or early 2018. If for some reason this crosswalk has not been installed by the time we are completing construction at that intersection, it is something that our project could build.”
While the official notices are not yet out, the city has penciled in a date for the Southwest Design Review Board‘s next look at two local projects of note. Both are now on the SWDRB calendar for Thursday, April 20th:
4754 FAUNTLEROY WAY SW: This Triangle project on the site of a former pawn shop (and the parking lot to its north) is proposed for 108 apartments, 10 live-work units, and 107 offstreet-parking spaces. The review set for 6:30 pm on April 20th is the second and potentially final one for this project; here’s our report on the first one last August.
4220 SW 100TH: This Arbor Heights project proposing 9 three-story live-work units and 8 offstreet-parking spaces on the site of a former church is set for the 8 pm spot on April 20th. After the board took its first look at the project in January (WSB coverage here), it ordered a second round of Early Design Guidance – the stage in which size/shape comprise much of the discussion – so that’s what’ll be happening.
The “design packets” for these reviews – both happening at the Senior Center of West Seattle, the SWDRB’s regular venue in recent years – aren’t out yet; we’ll publish followups when they are.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Some Triangle-area businesses are worried that the Fauntleroy Boulevard project has too much in common with the 23rd Avenue project on the other side of Elliott Bay.
That was one of the concerns voiced during the launch meeting for the new Fauntleroy Way Neighborhood and Business Association.
Not only did last Wednesday’s meeting draw about two dozen business reps and residents, it also drew the former City Councilmember who long advocated for the project – Tom Rasmussen – and the current City Councilmember who is somewhat shepherding it now – Lisa Herbold. (Both are West Seattleites.)
First, a bit of backstory in case you aren’t caught up on the recent “re-activation” of the project: Read More
Police are looking for the robber who held up the Shell station at 4580 Fauntleroy Way SW in The Triangle around 3 pm. The description they have so far is a “possibly Asian” man in his early 20s, about 5’7″, slim build, wearing a black jacket, with a black scarf covering his face. He was reported to be armed with a handgun. That’s all the information we have so far after talking with police at the scene and via the media-relations office. No one was hurt; police rushed to the scene and are continuing to search in the area. If you saw anything, call 911.
6:48 PM: The Fauntleroy Boulevard project through The Triangle is suddenly a hot topic, and tonight we have word of two more chances for you to find out more about it. Along with the West Seattle Transportation Coalition meeting tomorrow night (Thursday, February 23rd, 6:30 pm at Neighborhood House’s High Point Center) and the new Fauntleroy Way Neighborhood and Business Association‘s meeting a week from tonight (Wednesday, March 1st, 7:30 pm at Rudy’s Barbershop/Realfine Coffee), SDOT just announced two “Walk-and-Talk” tours along the route.
Project spokesperson Rachel McCaffrey says, “These walking tours will be an opportunity for us to share the latest design, discuss early construction planning, introduce the project team to the public, and gather feedback. We’ll include light refreshments from Fauntleroy businesses along the way.” She says it’s “the same tour on two different dates: Thursday, March 16, from 12-1:30 PM, and Saturday, March 18, from 10:30 AM-12 PM. The tours will begin outside of LA Fitness, at 3900 SW Alaska St, and end at West Seattle Brewing Co., at 4415 Fauntleroy Way SW.” Also, watch your postal mail for a postcard about this (see it here) – she says it’s being sent to a “swath” of the area (we have a followup question out asking exactly where said “swath” is).
ADDED 11:57 AM: We have the reply to that: “We mailed the postcard to approximately 8,560 addresses roughly in the boundaries of SW Charlestown St, 45th Ave SW, SW Juneau, and 26th Ave SW. We’ll also announce the event via our email newsletter, which has about 300 subscribers.”
Over the weekend, we mentioned the West Seattle Transportation Coalition‘s plan for a briefing/discussion this Thursday about the Fauntleroy Boulevard project, and much discussion ensued. Today, news of another meeting: The newly formed Fauntleroy Way Neighborhood and Business Association has just invited nearby businesses and residents to its first community meeting, 7:30 pm Wednesday, March 1st, in the Rudy’s Barbershop/Realfine Coffee building (4480 Fauntleroy Way). See the flyer here as a PDF, or embedded below:
The Fauntleroy Boulevard plan has been under discussion for almost a decade, but had no funding until the mayor added it to the Move Seattle levy in May 2015.
The concept of transforming Fauntleroy Way SW into a “boulevard” through The Triangle (between 35th and Alaska) has been kicking around for many years. But now there’s money in the city budget and construction could start before year’s end, as announced last fall. We’ve shown general concepts many times … the renderings above and below are the newest ones SDOT has made public, from the “60% design” phase:
So what about the details, such as how access will change for businesses and side-road users, for example? This Thursday is your chance to hear firsthand, and to ask questions, as an SDOT rep from the project will be featured at the West Seattle Transportation Coalition‘s monthly meeting. “WSTC has been expressing concerns (about the plan) since 2013 – within West Seattle, and with successive (project) teams, SDOT management, the mayor, and City Council,” says WSTC co-chair Martin Westerman. “Concerns include, but are not limited to, issues around project design and cost, and coordination between successive (project) teams and SDOT-Move Seattle, Seattle City Light, Sound Transit, and West Seattle stakeholders.” The meeting starts at 6:30 pm Thursday (February 23rd) at Neighborhood House‘s High Point Center (6400 Sylvan Way SW). Westerman also notes, “All are welcome — from community associations, interest groups, businesses, and members of the public.”
Thanks to Matthew for the tip via Twitter: A new taco truck has set up shop on the West Seattle Produce lot at 4722 Fauntleroy Way SW, the spot Beloved Mexico left in November 2015. We just talked with Abacu at Taqueria La Original. He says he’ll be there 10:30 am-10 pm, seven days a week.Here’s the temporary menu:
Beloved Mexico had been there five years when it closed, citing factors including competition and the fact the site was slated for redevelopment. While the CVS drugstore project that was on the drawing board then has since been canceled, we broke the news just before Christmas of a new project planned for the site, two apartment buildings
The newly expanded West Seattle YMCA (WSB sponsor) just got the final inspection clearance, and it will open tomorrow morning! That’s the word from Joleen Post at the Y. She and Josh Sutton gave us a sneak peek this afternoon. Above, the new front/entrance, now facing SW Snoqualmie Street. Inside, the new fitness center is, well, the centerpiece:
The fitness center spans 5,700 square feet and is right on the east side of the entrance hall. On the west side, a community gathering room that can hold up to 170 people (and has a kitchen):
When we stopped in, final setup was still under way – the huge reception area will have furniture in place before you see it tomorrow:
A few expansion features have a little more work to be done, such as the family changing rooms, but they’ll be ready soon. Outside the building, by the way, the parking lots WILL be open when the doors open at 5:30 tomorrow morning. And of course, some expansion features are already in use, like the ones we spotlighted back in November.
Tomorrow, one way to get your first look at the expansion is during Family Night. Or, one of the three Try It Tuesdays starting next week. Lots of special events are scheduled – see the full list here. If you’re not a member yet, you’re welcome at the special events too – and if you are considering joining, note that there are no joining fees if you sign up this month.
BACKSTORY: The groundbreaking celebration for the expansion work was just seven months ago. At that time, the Y also celebrated the designation of the block of SW Snoqualmie in front of its new entrance as a “festival street”; the first event was the last screening of last summer’s West Seattle Outdoor Movies series, and Sutton says the Y will soon put together a committee to come up with a list of events for this summer – not just the movies, but more. If you’re interested, contact him at email@example.com.
5:54 PM: Thanks to the texter who tipped us even before Seattle Fire‘s “heavy rescue” dispatch went out – they report a car is on its side in the middle of eastbound Fauntleroy Way in The Triangle. The SFD dispatch has SW Oregon as the cross-street. We’re on our way to find out more.
5:58 PM: Per scanner, all but three of the SFD units are being dismissed – the person feared trapped in the vehicle is out.
6:08 PM: No injuries, our crew has been told at the scene. Two vehicles involved; police are talking to the drivers, and awaiting tow trucks. Eastbound Fauntleroy is blocked between 38th SW and the YMCA annex at SW Oregon.
6:23 PM: It’s blurry, but this camera should show when eastbound Fauntleroy reopens, if SDOT doesn’t move it – you can see the closed stretch in the right foreground.
As the West Seattle YMCA (WSB sponsor) expansion project gets closer to completion, more new features are coming online. We stopped by this week for a hard-hat tour to get a look at what’s happening. Above, the new outdoor play structure is in, but the really big news is indoors – a new exercise area next to the pool features Queenax, described as “a multipurpose training system that centers on your functional fitness, using exercises that mimic what you do in daily life to improve cardiovascular endurance and gain strength, flexibility, and conditioning.”
You can register for free Queenax demos that start tomorrow, whether you’re a Y member or not – sign up online (find the links on this page) or at the Y. Open drop-in times and group-exercise classes launch December 5th (here’s the schedule).
Back to the tour – Read More
That’s American Legion Post 160 commander Keith Hughes with the two U.S. Coast Guardsmen from Everett who came to tonight’s Veterans Day dinner at the post in The Triangle with a gift: A flag that flew on a USCG Port Security Unit 313 patrol boat while it was under way on maritime-security patrol on the Legion’s 97th anniversary, March 15, 2016. They explained the unit wanted to thank the post for the care packages they had sent, and then described where and when the flag had flown:
Other gifts at the dinner – thank-you cards for veterans, created by students at Madison Middle School:
The dinner is an annual tradition at Post 160, free to local veterans, active-duty personnel, guard and reserve members, and their families. Tonight’s attendance was the best ever.
Commander Hughes, who served in the Army, read a well-known verse of thanks to those who fought for the rights our country holds dear:
And as we left, we passed another family arriving, with a Troop 282 Boy Scout whose grandmother and aunt are veterans, though too far away to come along. They brought gifts too … cherry and apple pies.
On Tuesday, we showed you the first photo mural to go up on the north side of Aura on 35th SW south of Avalon. The management told us another one would be up today, so we just went over to look, and it is:
As noted in yesterday’s story and in a comment today by the SODO firm that treated the historic photos for installation, Grand Image, these 4-story-high installations are based on historic photos – the ferry West Seattle from 1907, and the trolley from 1930 – obtained via the Log House Museum.
Thanks to Eddie for the tip and the photo:
The first of two photo murals went up today on the north side of Aura, the new mixed-use building on 35th south of Avalon. This one is on the northwest side of the building, and the other one is scheduled for installation on the northeast side tomorrow, according to building management, with whom we inquired after receiving Eddie’s photo:
The images are historic photos which we received from the Log House Museum in West Seattle. Both depict historic transportation methods to and from West Seattle, which we felt was important for our location, directly adjacent to the RapidRide stop. The first image is the historic W. Seattle Ferry (photo circa 1907), and the second is the historic Spokane Street (trolley) (photo circa 1930). The digital artist who gave the images a modern twist with the “pixelation” at the corners was a group in SODO called Grand Image.
The aforementioned RapidRide stop was restored just last week.
For those who have been asking when the RapidRide stop on southbound 35th just south of Avalon would move back to its permanent site … it’s back. Don’t know if it’s been back for hours or days, but Eddie tipped us this afternoon, so we drove by for a photo. We had most recently checked with Metro in July, and – as we wrote here – they expected it to return in August, so it was a little behind schedule, but it’s there now. During the construction of mixed-use Aura, the stop had moved about a block south.
As expansion/renovation work continues at the West Seattle YMCA (WSB sponsor) headquarters in The Triangle, staffers are getting ready today for a celebration tomorrow – the grand opening of the new Kids Zone, 4-8 pm Friday. We got a sneak peek with the Y’s Joleen Post on Wednesday afternoon. Above, the big indoor play structure is in the “Adventure Zone” for 3- to 5-year-olds; the “Tween Zone” for ages 9 to 13 includes a ping-pong table:
Lots of work going on when we stopped by, but tomorrow, it’ll all be done in time for the celebration. There are also specific programs for babies, toddlers, and 4- to 9-year-olds, with three separate indoor areas – adjacent to the Y’s gym – including new restrooms and a new outdoor play structure that’s being installed soon. These are all drop-in child-care areas included in Y family memberships. But you don’t have to be a member to enjoy tomorrow’s celebration – come in, look around, try things out. (If you decide to join, the Y has a “no joining fee” special through mid-October. And if you’ve never been there – the temporary entrance is along SW Snoqualmie, between 36th SW and 37th SW.)
8:36 AM: Thanks for the tips. En route to check this out – a big Seattle Fire response to a report of a natural-gas leak in the 4500 block of 37th SW in The Triangle.
8:41 AM: The West Seattle YMCA (WSB sponsor) tells us via e-mail, “Contractors working on the Y street improvements on SW Oregon hit a gas line about 8 am today. Gas company and fire department were contacted and we evacuated members from the building as a precaution.” Per scanner, 36th SW has been closed to traffic in the area, and according to the Y, SFD is “evacuating businesses on north side of Oregon (Tom’s, West Seattle Brake, City Dog).”
8:51 AM: Per the Y, “the leak is secured and off – waiting to hear if we are letting members back in yet.”
8:56 AM: Alaska is blocked too but this should be winding down soon, our crew has learned at the scene. The Y says it’s been given clearance to reopen. SFD tells us an engine will remain in the area for a while.
9:08 AM: Here’s the spot where the crew hit the line:
The nearby businesses are all open again too. No injuries.
10:35 AM: Added two more photos above. And just received this one from one of the briefly evacuated businesses nearby, Dog City:
They report that they “felt super safe during (the situation) with our local fire department! Needless to say the firefighter had a grin from ear to ear with all the attention. This is why we also donate to our local fire department because these guys rock!”
And Joleen Post, ace tipster from the Y, sent this photo of “Tish‘s dance class” temporarily switching locations during the evacuation:
Again, everything is OK in the area now, and SFD has long since cleared out.
When the 159-unit mixed-use building at 4435 35th SW now known as Aura went through Design Review three years ago, its most-acclaimed feature wasn’t actually part of the building – it was the “hillclimb” stairway proposed for the south side of the property. That side is actually city right-of-way, technically part of SW Oregon Street, but previously undeveloped. Now, the stairway is open; the photo is courtesy of Josh Sutton from the nearby West Seattle YMCA (WSB sponsor). This is envisioned as an easier way to walk between The Junction, The Triangle, and Seattle Parks facilities to the east (West Seattle Stadium, Golf Course, Camp Long, Rotary Viewpoint Park), and the growing number of residences and businesses in the area.
Story, video, and photos by Tracy Record and Patrick Sand
West Seattle Blog co-publishers
The last speaker at Thursday’s West Seattle YMCA expansion groundbreaking celebration, member Michelle Silver, used that term for her enthusiastic view of the Y, whose director Josh Sutton picked it up and ran with it.
It was perfect for the energy and enthusiasm that marked the event outside the Triangle headquarters of the Y (a longtime WSB sponsor).
Though members of the Y board posed for the top photo, this wasn’t really a groundbreaking about, well, breaking ground – the shovels were mostly for fun:
Major work on the Y’s long-in-the-works expansion had started last week with demolition of the old Youth Programs building. The event was more a chance to honor those who made the project possible, and to celebrate a side benefit, the new “festival street” designation for SW Snoqualmie in front of the Y, recently finalized and used for the first time for this party, which included a bouncy house, free barbecue, and even the West Seattle High School Band:
And it was a chance to recap what the expansion will bring – Sutton hit the highlights: “When this project is done, we’ll have a whole new Y from the outside and new tools to help the community.” They include a meeting room, kitchen, expanded fitness space, new family room with “active play for all ages,” a new cycling room. (More details here.)
With its perch in the West Seattle Triangle, part of the “urban village” at the heart of the peninsula, and within walking distance of thousands of new apartments, the Y also has to have its eye on the future. That was noted by Mark Tabbutt, who spoke after Sutton’s introduction, a West Seattleite representing the Greater Seattle Y’s board.
“There’s a ton of new people coming in – this organization, this Y, is going to be a big part of drawing those people in.”
Without money to pay for the expansion, it wouldn’t be happening, and about $800,000 came from the state, so the program included an area legislator, 34th District State Senator Sharon Nelson.
“Why should the state support this?” she asked rhetorically. “Because it’s about youth and families.”
From the WS Y board, Scott Hitchcock hailed the “hard work” by so many, over the decade it took for this to become reality:
Those gathered in the new “festival street” also heard from Dino Vasquez and Steve Sundquist, co-chairs of the capital campaign. Sundquist, a former Seattle School Board member, voiced appreciation for the Y’s work at local schools.
A donor whose family made the first gift to the campaign, Sue Chamberlain, recalled her membership dating back 30 years, when she said she walked into the Y with her then-1-year-old son. The Y goes back almost a century here, she said, so those enabling its expansion are “continuing a great legacy.”
Gratitude was threaded through all the speeches, not just for those who gave money, but for those who gave time.
But the show was stolen by final speaker Michelle Silver, from the moment Sutton introduced her while making note that Silver was wearing a Cleveland Cavaliers T-shirt and obviously had to get home in time for the game. First, here’s some of what she described, memorably, as Y-Tastic:
The speeches wrapped up, and the party continued for guests of all ages.
Here’s what happens next, according to a timeline Sutton shared: The main building stays open throughout the project, Later this month, the entrance will move to the festival-street side. More changes will be ahead in August, when the first Y-hosted West Seattle Outdoor Movies screening will happen (last one of this year’s season, before the entire series moves next year). Then a new entrance is expected in October, and more of the new building will be open around Thanksgiving, with the project largely wrapped up by year’s end, meaning that 2017, in Sutton’s words, will bring a “new Y for a new year.”