(Model of future Sealth/Denny shared campus, looking northward over it, with the new Denny building north of/behind the Sealth gym on the eastern half of the campus)
As promised, here’s the complete update on last night’s SEPA (State Environmental Policy Act)-mandated public meeting on the Denny-Sealth project, which turned out to have a further-reaching scope than you might have surmised by looking at advance notice of the meeting. Though there was a formal presentation halfway through — with the contingent of school-district staffers and project consultants/architects almost outnumbering the general-public attendees — the most interesting info was available on and along the easels in the Chief Sealth HS Commons during the first half of the meeting:
Last week, we showed you one option forwarded by Westwood Neighborhood Council president Steve Fischer for a “worst-case scenario” on the site that Denny now occupies — worst-case in terms of environmental impacts, maximum pavement, with tennis courts and parking. Last night that was one of four sketches shown as possible options on the site:
We’re still looking for an electronic copy of that so you can take a much closer look, but basically, all four were various combinations of tennis courts and a softball field; one had a large-ish grassy space. Whether or not the tennis courts would have lights wasn’t clear; one meeting leader said “no,” someone else pointed out that part of the paperwork suggested they would. District officials at the meeting stressed over and over again that they know they committed to get community input about the future of the site after Denny is demolished, but they just had to present possibilities at this meeting.
“We’ve heard you loud and clear that you want input on what goes on (at that site),” Denny-Sealth project manager Robert Evans said toward the end of the meeting. “We will still have a process.”
When? asked an attendee. Answer: No dates set yet.
The other bonus feature, if you will, at last night’s meeting was the display of easels with 30 possible options for how to spend the $10 million the School Board agreed to allot to the Sealth work beyond the bare-bones upgraded safety/health items that will be going in after the school moves to its temporary quarters at Boren for the next two years.
30 options were displayed, with space for attendees to cast votes by placing “dots” in an empty space next to a description of, and price tag for, each one. (Each attendee was offered four dots; a similar process, the district says, has been under way for faculty and students — we saw similar easels during a visit to Sealth two weeks ago.)
We went by for an informal survey just before the meeting moved from the easel area in the open Commons to the presentation in the nearby cafeteria; the most popular option was “new computer lab in the library,” $70,000, followed by new theater seating in the auditorium (priced at $430,000) and a refurbished wood floor for the gym ($160,000). Several items got no votes — new exterior cladding and insulation ($2,420,000), new exterior doors ($200,000), and three gym proposals: new acoustic wall panels ($290,000), new heating/ventilation ($1,660,000), new ticket and concession area ($210,000).
Besides that “voting” in the commons area before the presentation, district officials and consultants circulated to answer questions. Many came from nearby residents concerned about transportation patterns in the area once the new Denny is built and opened in 2011 north of the Sealth gym; the district says buses will be directed onto 27th west of the campus, then east on Kenyon for a short distance before turning into the campus and dropping students on the east side of Denny, continuing southward to exit on Thistle. (No more yellow school buses for Sealth, so the bus issue only involves Denny.)
Parking was another major concern, with inquiries before and after the presentation. The district and its consultants say the parking-availability changes, and parking-need changes, at the site will mean, bottom line, that 120 cars each day will have to find parking on the surrounding streets; they contend there’s more than enough parking availability on those streets to handle that. (Attendees weren’t so sure.)
What’s next? As we mentioned last night, the district has extended the SEPA-mandated comment period to May 9 because the information that was supposed to be available well before last night’s meeting didn’t go up on the SPS website till yesterday afternoon. You can find it all here, including instructions on how to submit comments (district officials say sending comments by postal mail is the best way to get them officially on the record).