Less local vetting for city’s ‘neighborhood’ grants? Proposed changes draw sharp questions @ Delridge District Council

One more neighborhood meeting to recap from this past week, before the new week arrives: The Delridge Neighborhoods District Council. Guests included Southwest Precinct commander Capt. Steve Wilske, but the crime/safety discussion was subdued compared to concerns over proposed changes in the city’s Neighborhood Matching Funds – a key source of funding for community-initiated projects, often involving parks or roads:

The potential NMF changes are recommendations of an advisory committee whose members include West Seattleite Jackie Ramels, who’s been in the trenches on neighborhood issues as a former president of the Alki Community Council. Ramels came to DNDC to talk about the proposals, and it was quickly clear that local leaders have major concerns. Both Pete Spalding from Pigeon Point, guest-chairing the meeting, and Amanda Kay Helmick from Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights took vigorous issue with one major component: Changes in how the Large Project Fund grants are made.

For one, the advisory committee was tasked with developing “a process to allow for non-geographic-based applicants and projects” to apply for the Large Projects Fund. Right now, the focus is on geographic-based projects – for example, each of West Seattle’s two District Councils, Delridge Neighborhoods DC for the east and Southwest DC for the west, gets to review applications for grants in their respective areas, critiquing and prioritizing proposals before sending them off for city-level review. That part of the process also would change; the recommendations call for sending applications directly to the Citywide Review Team. The District Councils’ only review role would be via any representative(s) they have on the citywide team.

The changes, according to a document that Ramels brought along, were rooted in responses to a survey about the Neighborhood Matching Funds (about 150 respondents citywide, according to a notation on the document).

But the critics suggested the proposed changes would be antithetical to the mission of the Department of Neighborhoods. Helmick called it a reversal of Mayor Murray’s campaign promise to return to a neighborhood focus.

When questions arose about eastern West Seattle involvement in the process leading to the recommendations, Delridge Neighborhood Development Association‘s Willard Brown said he had taken the survey, heard about the proposals, and had no problem with non-geographic groups seeking grants, as long as they partnered with neighborhood groups.

Later in the meeting, Helmick suggested that DNDC should write a letter opposing the changes. The city’s timeline says presentations are being made to district councils now, with Neighborhoods director Bernie Matsuno to bring the changes to the mayor and council soon, before a final decision.

POLICING PLANS: Capt. Wilske explained that he’s working on more than half a dozen specific neighborhood-crimefighting plans for individual West Seattle neighborhoods and likely will wind up with a dozen. He stressed that they’re flexible plans, since reducing a particular type of crime in one neighborhood might just send it off to another. Property crime remains the major concern in every Southwest Precinct neighborhood, so a team will look at those crimes to help facilitate a unified response.

For Delridge-specific concerns, he mentioned that he and Community Police Team Officer Jon Kiehn have been working with DESC regarding issues at and around its Cottage Grove Commons building. They’re also focusing on some chronic concerns relating to area mini-marts.

And he says Delridge Way is likely to get a traffic-emphasis patrol like the one that worked 35th last summer, which netted 200 stops and about 120 tickets.

ALSO AT THE MEETING: City budget boss Ben Noble summarized the mayor’s proposal, which the City Council is continuing to go through. Their next public hearing is this Thursday. … SDOT reps presented an overview of the next “master plan” their department will be preparing, the Seattle Freight Master Plan. They’re just at the start of the process; the actual plan “that will serve as the 20-year blueprint to guide freight mobility investments and improvements” will take shape over the next year. Follow the process here.

The Delridge District Council meets third Wednesdays, 7 pm, Youngstown Cultural Arts Center.

3 Replies to "Less local vetting for city's 'neighborhood' grants? Proposed changes draw sharp questions @ Delridge District Council"

  • John October 20, 2014 (9:03 am)

    Wow, out of more than 652,000 people in Seattle “about 150 respondents citywide” was enough to bring changes.

  • Toby Thaler October 22, 2014 (12:31 pm)

    Relevant to this discussion is the 2009 audit and how many of its specific governance change recommendations were never implemented: http://www.seattle.gov/neighborhoodcouncil/documents/20090622_districtcouncilpublishedreport.pdf

  • dis October 31, 2014 (11:37 am)

    out of 652,000 people in Seattle, the 100 district council members citywide have kept the NMF system from growing and changing with the times. The 2009 audit is correct, the district council system needs a change. Believe it or not, MOST people in this city have NO IDEA what a district council is,much less the CNC. We have the technology these days to advertise and promote yourself for free. Where is the innovation? Where is the ACTIVE outreach? IF the people don’t come to you, find a NEW way to engage. The same people should not be sitting at the table decade after decade after decade.

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