Westwood Council releases “vision” for Denny site


We mentioned here last month that the Westwood Neighborhood Council was looking for drawing help to draft neighbors’ vision of what could be done with the Denny Middle School site when the new Denny is ready on the Chief Sealth High School campus and the old Denny is demolished. The first draft (mentioned at the last WNC meeting; WSB coverage here) is above; click it for a fullsize version so you can read all the descriptions. So far, as reported here, early Seattle Public Schools thoughts on the site have focused on tennis courts and a softball field (click here to see the “worst-case scenario” SPS drafted), but Westwood sees a lot more, and is working hard to make sure the district keeps its promise of partnership in determining the site’s future — made in the wake of the Denny/Sealth combined-campus process having been way down the track (as reported here almost one full year ago) before it came back before the community post-election. The Westwood Council will discuss this at its next meeting July 8; here’s the official WNC news release accompanying the artwork above:

The Westwood Neighborhood Council has developed an early vision for the existing site of the Denny Middle School and lands owned by the Seattle School District located in the heart of the Westwood/ Highland Park/ Delridge neighborhoods. The community’s vision includes a neighborhood-oriented combination of open spaces, natural areas and ball fields that are open to the public.

“This area needs better public spaces that serve the community and complements the role of our schools and the Southwest Community Center. Local neighborhoods want to work with the school district, City Parks Department and other partners to create something special on this site. It’s time to get people working together to find creative solutions for this great opportunity,” said Steven Fischer, president of the Westwood Neighborhood Council.

The community vision differs from the regional sports complex-oriented concepts presented as part of the District’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) Alternatives. The EIS alternatives present a combination of parking, lighted tennis courts suitable to large-scale tournament play, and fenced playfields. Currently, much of the School District-owned athletic sports complex is surrounded by 9 foot high fenced, is lighted at night, and is closed to the public during most hours. The lack of neighborhood use has been a major point of contention between the School District and local neighborhoods.

“The Southwest Community Center and nearby land could be a model for community recreation and open space uses. The Southwest Athletic Complex that sits east of the site in question is already built out enough and is inaccessible to community use. The Denny site should be open to community use both passively and actively without fences and commercialism. A number of us supported the SW Complex with lights and artificial turf to be used as a regional sports facility. In that process, we were promised neighborhood access, which never materialized. The adjacent neighborhoods are in need of active and open green passive space – not fences, parking lots and excessive lighting”, says Bruce Bentley, former chair of Seattle Parks Commission.

“Let’s learn from the past and take the time to find resources to make this something better for our kids and this community. Let’s not commit to decisions now that we will have to live with for a very long time and will preclude the opportunity for something really special here,” says Susan Harmon, neighborhood activist.

City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, and Parks deputy superintendent Christopher Williams met with members of the Westwood Neighborhood Council on June 10, 2008. At that meeting, both City representatives suggested the potential for identifying future funding for Parks’ acquisition of the Denny site, including the upcoming Parks Levy or a land swap between the School District and Seattle Parks Department.

“Let’s keep our options open for now. Let’s give ourselves time to create something really special.” concluded Steve Fischer. The Westwood Neighborhood Council will be discussing this proposal at its next meeting to be held on July 8.

1 Reply to "Westwood Council releases "vision" for Denny site"

  • Wilbur Westside July 8, 2008 (11:39 pm)

    YES! Go Westwood Neighborhood Council. Your vision is what the West Seattle community needs. I’m so tired of the Seattle School District mis-managing their properties in this humble area of the city. No more tall ugly fences, god-awful lights and fields for only those who can afford it. Viva la communidad!

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