Story and photos by Jason Grotelueschen
Reporting for West Seattle Blog
A local author took center stage at the monthly meeting of the Alki Community Council at Alki UCC Church on Thursday night, along with discussions of disaster preparedness and city-budget concerns affecting Alki Community Center.
The final hour of the meeting was devoted to a presentation by Alki author Peter Stekel (above) who talked about his book, “Final Flight: The Mystery of a WWII Plane Crash and the Frozen Airmen in the High Sierra.” The book, published last month and available on Amazon, chronicles Stekel’s extensive research into the 2005 discovery of the body of an “ice man” pilot in the Sierra Nevada mountains, and Stekel’s resulting discovery of airplane wreckage and an additional pilot’s body.
The meeting opened with remarks by Alki parent Lisa West (who had also collected signatures and spoken at last week’s Seattle budget hearing), expressing concern about service reductions at Alki Community Center as part of the proposed cuts announced by Mayor McGinn last month (WSB coverage here). West said the city’s plan would reduce the center’s weekly operations from 53 hours to 15 hours (7 of those on a single day – Friday), and that the closest alternative (Hiawatha) is “too far up the hill for kids to walk to.”
West encouraged community members to let the City Council know that Alki Community Center is important, by visiting the council’s “IdeaScale” website and voting for continued funding (link is here). NOTE: The city’s third and final public budget hearing is Tuesday October 26th.
ACC trustee Tony Fragada added that the city’s proposed budget cuts would also affect Department of Neighborhoods funding and encouraged citizens to keep that in mind while getting involved with the discussion.
Read on for more meeting notes:
Also on the agenda was Fragada’s update about last week’s earthquake drills as part of the community’s continuing efforts to support West Seattle Emergency Communication Hubs in the Alki area and surrounding neighborhoods.
Fragada fielded questions about the area’s designated emergency gathering spot (Alki Playfield, north of Alki Elementary), and talked about what happens at those gathering spots in the event of an emergency — handheld radio contact, a community “I need help” physical bulletin board, etc. Fragada also gave an update on the wayfinding project in which two new signs are being created, to be posted near Alki before the end of 2010 — the signs will have Alki “visitor information” on one side, and emergency information on the other.
Fragada and ACC Vice President Randie Stone reported that the Alki Council has an opening for the office of Secretary, as well as one Trustee position. Anyone interested can send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Stone also noted that current ACC President Jule Sugerman (not present) is struggling with some “health issues,” and that the council wishes him well and is looking at alternatives for keeping their leadership stable during his absence.
After a few other “housekeeping” notes, Stone and Fragada turned the agenda over to Stekel, who talked about his “Final Flight” book and showed pictures of its subjects:
After the meeting, Stekel told us that response to the book has been terrific in the month since its release, and that reviews and feedback have been positive — including appreciative comments from the families of the lost airmen chronicled in his book. Stekel has a number of public appearances coming up (in November, Seattle and Bellingham, along with Beaverton OR), and said his publisher is “very happy with how things are going.”