9:54 AM: We’re in the gym at Southwest Teen Life Center, where the Delridge Projects Workshop is just getting under way – and if you’re not here yet, it’s not at all too late. Until about 10 am, people are wandering around checking out info-easels on the three “projects” in question – involving transportation, neighborhood planning, and “natural drainage” (raingardens and more). Then the agenda says about 15 minutes of introductions will follow, and then people who are here will get to spend 30 minutes finding out and talking about each of the “projects” – whenever you get here, just drop in on one of the sessions, which are scattered around the gym. It’s slated to wrap up at 11:45 am with entertainment – a performance by local youth. We’re checking out the transportation project first and will add some notes as this goes along.
10:09 AM: “The fact that you’re here shows that Delridge is on the move,” said Willard Brown of Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association, co-emceeing the introduction, including acknowledging members of a community advisory team that’s been working on all this. This gathering itself is another in the city’s series of experiments with different formats of “community engagement” – city officials have been heard to acknowledge that it’s hard to draw people to a standard-format community meeting, so they’re trying a variety of formats (and a lot of surveys!) to see what works. We talked with one rep here who said that they’ve reached out by sending someone door-to-door to personally talk with residents, and in another area of the city, attendees at a meeting like this almost invariably said they’d heard about it from the person who showed up at their doors.
10:25 AM: We’re sitting in on the “Delridge Multi-Modal Corridor” presentation first with SDOT’s Sara Zora, who reminds everyone that the speed limit on Delridge will change to 30 mph this year. A table in this corner is making the presentation simultaneously in Vietnamese (as seen in part of our Instagram clip above). Timeline for this project: “Conceptual designs and evaluation of alternatives” August-December, another phase of “public engagement” starting in January, and design stretching over most of 2016. Then it’s on to small-table discussions; here, one group is offering suggestions as well as critiques of current conditions along and just off Delridge.
10:42 AM UPDATE: The format might not be allowing as much time as these discussions need – it seems this table is just getting going, barely 10 minutes of talking, when bells are ringing and announcements are declaring everyone needs to wrap it up and move to another “station.” Acoustics in here are a challenge. We’re moving over to the “Natural Drainage Systems” station – raingardens, bioswales, Combined Sewer Overflow-reduction projects have been talked about a lot in West Seattle in the past five-plus years, and here the specific focus is to reduce pollution (much of which comes from rainwater runoff) in Longfellow Creek. … Update: The map here has marked streets that might be good candidates for “natural drainage” but the city reps are hoping participants will help them identify the best candidates – maybe synergizing with other priority projects, for example. People have asked about other projects – the CSO work at Delridge/Orchard, the RainWise offerings in the county’s project areas – and the city reps have explained those too.
11:11 AM: A lot of what the “natural drainage” team is hearing so far has to do with concerns about lack of sidewalks and other pedestrian facilities in the area – one woman is telling them it’s “unconscionable” for the city to be spending money on raingardens instead of installing sidewalks in areas where they’re missing. On the positive side, side conversations are starting between neighbors who might not have met before – one involved community gardening, for example. Now it’s on to the third “station,” which for us is the North Delridge Action Plan.
11:51 AM: The Action Plan station consisted entirely of small conversations – two, three people – near the easels about specific “nodes” in North Delridge (the Brandon Node business district-let, the Campus Node in the Delridge Community Center/Youngstown Cultural Arts Center area, the Sylvan/Orchard Node area, etc.). Now the event is wrapping with the preview of the Rec-Tech program youth-media-program-produced video about Delridge; the full version will be shown during the Delridge Day festival in August.