What you’ll get for your money: Parks Levy Opportunity Fund updates – from Round 2 to West Seattle’s Round 1

March 20, 2013 4:32 pm
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 |   West Seattle news | West Seattle parks

When Seattle voters approved the Parks and Green Spaces Levy in 2008, it not only came with a list of “named projects” to fund, it also came with a provision to pay for to-be-identified Opportunity Fund projects – to be proposed by the community, and reviewed by a volunteer committee before the City Council had the final say.

One West Seattle project funded in the first Opportunity Fund round is finally becoming reality: After long, bumpy negotiations, the city has just made a deal to buy a piece of property at 18th and Brandon so it can become a food-growing oasis known as Puget Ridge Edible Park.

Longtime PREP proponent Stu Hennessey is thrilled. It’s been in the works for several years – including two and a half years since he pitched the project to the levy’s Oversight Committee, and almost exactly two years since the City Council finalized the half-million-dollar levy allocation. (We took a closer look at PREP right after that, in March 2011.)

(2011 photo courtesy Stu Hennessey)
Seattle Parks acquisitions planner Chip Nevins confirms to WSB, “We do finally have a signed deal on the property. This has been a long negotiation and the community has been patient. The agreement gives us some time to perform our due diligence on the property. The next step is get an environmental site assessment for the property (which we have started) to make sure it is clean. I cannot give out the purchase price until it closes, which should be on or before June 30, 2013.”

Hennessey tells WSB work parties probably won’t start before fall, because of the aforementioned process, as well as demolition of the house on the PREP site.

While that Opportunity Fund project is finally moving closer to reality, the next round is getting closer to approval, and Oversight Committee chair Pete Spalding of Pigeon Point tells WSB that the draft list has two projects from the Southwest region – weatherization of cabins at Camp Long “so they can be rented all year long,” and the purchase of the South Park Plaza site, to create a park as the new bridge comes online. If those projects do win final approval, Spalding says this area will get $1.4 million of the $7.2 million to be spent in this Opportunity Fund route.

Another project, purchasing some open space on 48th SW on Genesee Hill, had a fair amount of committee support, according to Spalding, but didn’t make the current cut for this funding for a variety of reasons, including the possibility it will be eligible for a different type of funding, and the fact it’s not currently for sale.

Next step: A public hearing at Miller Community Center on Capitol Hill on April 22nd, at which project supporters are welcome to make pitches even if their proposals did not make this cut – the committee could make some changes, if there are compelling reasons. Hearing details are here.

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