Alki Community Council: Landslide prevention, community-center cuts, Art Fair’s future

Three major items from this past Thursday night’s Alki Community Council meeting:

(WSB photo of November 2009 slide behind Alki Avenue building)
LANDSLIDE COMMITTEE UPDATE: Jerry Smith told the ACC that Mayor McGinn‘s office has acknowledged the letter sent by the council’s Landslide Committee, asking to form a “joint task force” to help tackle the recurring slide problem. (We reported on the request, and an accompanying petition drive, here.) They expect to hear from Council President Richard Conlin once he’s back from traveling. Smith emphasized that they know nothing can be done to stop slides, but they are hoping to find ways to reduce the threat – such as “drains at the bottom of hillsides.” The committee also is interested in a city vegetation survey they found out about (the city owns much of the land on the slopes behind Alki Avenue residential parcels); Smith pointed out that the trees on the Harbor Avenue slope now are not “natural vegetation,” describing them as “basically weeds” that “fall over when the ground gets wet” and “don’t hold the soil.” They expect this to be a “very, very long-term project,” but are encouraged by the acknowledgment. ACC vice president Randie Stone, leading the meeting, noted that her famous “flower houses” on Alki had been hit by slides this year, back in March. Property owners are not “asking for money,” the ACC summarized – they just want to “be vigilant and proactive so we can minimize the damage.”

Ahead – toplines from the Alki Art Fair and Alki Community Center discussions:

ALKI COMMUNITY CENTER: Kathy Nyland from City Councilmember Sally Bagshaw‘s office – she chairs the council’s Parks Committee – presented a quick summary of what was being proposed for the center in this year’s budget. Last year, it was reclassified as a “limited-use” community center, and Nyland acknowledged many lessons were learned, and plans were changed. This time around, community centers are being classified at certain levels of staffing and services, and Alki CC would be a “2b,” with about 25 drop-in hours a week. What hours will those be? Your chance for input is at a meeting coming up at Alki CC next month, Nyland reminded those who are interested (7 pm November 9th at the center). She also fielded what is a common complaint for supporters of centers that are losing hours – a complaint about problems with the usage-tracking done earlier this year, playing into some of the budget decisions. Nyland acknowledged it was not the best of processes, but better, she said, than the many previous years in which usage wasn’t tracked at all – a revelation that had many shaking their heads. (P.S. In addition to the upcoming Alki CC meeting, there’s also a major public hearing this week on the overall budget – Wednesday night downtown, details here.)

(WSB photo from Alki Art Fair this past July)
ALKI ART FAIR’S FUTURE: This year, you might recall, the city’s staffing and hours cuts at Alki Community Center meant a dramatic change for the annual Alki Art Fair – at one point even raising a question of whether the festival would happen at all. Volunteers joined forces and made it happen – and it not only “happened,” it succeeded in a big way, with more than 20,000 visitors, more than 60 arts/crafts vendors, and about three dozen musical acts. The city waived about $8,000 worth of fees, and the festival finished in the black, but they’re expecting to have to pay those fees outright this year, so they’ll need to raise money via more sponsorships (WSB was one of this year’s sponsors). Mike Galvin – who’s been a participating artist since 2004 – told the ACC they’re also going to form a 501(c)3 nonprofit to operate the event, which will be back to the 4th weekend in July for 2012 (this year it was on the 3rd). And they have a new mission statement declaring the fair to be “West Seattle’s premier summer art showcase.” Galvin said the new efforts should help the festival continue to grow.

Alki Community Council meets the third Thursday of each month at Alki UCC Church (on Hinds between 61st and 62nd); it’s online at Board membership will be on the November agenda (11/17), and two new trustees are needed.

1 Reply to "Alki Community Council: Landslide prevention, community-center cuts, Art Fair's future"

  • Nulu October 24, 2011 (10:01 am)

    “Smith emphasized that they know nothing can be done to stop slides, but they are hoping to find ways to reduce the threat…”
    “Smith pointed out that the trees on the Harbor Avenue slope now are not “natural vegetation,” describing them as “basically weeds” that “fall over when the ground gets wet” and “don’t hold the soil.”

    Finally, a realistic assessment of the hill slide problems.

    “Property owners are not “asking for money,” but money and huge amounts of it are required to address the problem. Drains at the bottom hillsides could be an expensive part of a solution, but not the answer.

    Since the value of these sliding slopes always returns after slides, why are not the people affected forming a group to make improvements?
    If all of those million dollar homes and condos that have been built in the slide area could each pitch in $100,000, then something might get done.

    The “joint task force” is just another layer of bureaucracy that will drain time and money from the departments already charged with this.

    Property owners can also purchase slide insurance, but the high cost of it means many will just take their chances, and expect the government will once again step in when the ground slides.

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