VIDEO: Delridge ‘Find It, Fix It’ walk sees mayor, big city contingent considering concerns from safety to drainage

Story, photos, video by Tracy Record and Patrick Sand
West Seattle Blog co-publishers

Successes, challenges, even tragedy took turns in the spotlight as Mayor Ed Murray and a strike force of city staffers descended on North Delridge today for their 12th Find It, Fix It Community Walk, first one in West Seattle.

This was no “drop in and we’ll wander around” event. It was meticulously planned for months, with a community committee involved in planning the route and who would speak where and when. An audio system was carted from stop to stop, and speeches – by community members as well as the mayor and staffers – took up about a third of the hour and a half it actually lasted. With so much planned, it was far more thorough than the last mayoral walking tour we recall in the area, by Murray’s predecessor Mike McGinn five years ago, though part of the route was the same.

We’ll begin at the beginning:

At the starting point, the Louisa Boren STEM K-8 school at 5950 Delridge Way SW, the mayor was introduced by Neighborhood District Coordinator Kerry Wade, who spent months working with community volunteers to ensure this happened without a hitch. With a podium, PA system, and the full crowd, speeches ensued, starting with the mayor explaining what the walks are about:

He introduced the many department heads who were along for the walk:

From left, Seattle Public Utilities’ Ray Hoffman, Seattle City Light’s acting GM Jim Baggs, SPD Deputy Chief Carmen Best, Department of Neighborhoods’ Kathy Nyland, SDOT’s Scott Kubly, Parks Superintendent Jesús Aguirre, budget director Ben Noble, Department of Finance and Administrative Services’ Fred Podesta. Also taking a turn at the podium, City Councilmembers Tim Burgess and Tom Rasmussen:

The school was also the official first stop on the walk, highlighting the success story of its new crosswalk, installed just before this school year began:

Ironically, as community member Craig Rankin pointed out – having been deeply involved in making it happen (as reported here in March 2014) – it wouldn’t be where it is if the city had had its way:

After he spoke, it was off to the next stop, with residents Michelle Whelan and Maketa Wilborn pointing out one of the many places where the Delridge area – mostly a narrow valley, the “dell” between the “ridges” – has drainage challenges:

Using a tablet, they showed the mayor and SPU director Hoffman some images of problems in the past, and pointed out that nearby slopes are slated for development, wondering just how much worse things will get because of that, if something’s not done.

Stop number 3, as the group headed north, was a piece of city-owned property that will remain greenspace thanks to a community organization’s efforts to keep it from being sold off.

That’s Willard Brown from the Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association, which – as reported here recently – will be using grant money and donations to buy one of City Light’s surplus substation sites; here’s the aerial look from SCL’s website.

During the Find It, Fix It walk, Brown spoke about how preserving the greenspace will benefit students from the nearby school:

But some “fixing” is still needed here, he noted, adding his voice to those clamoring for drainage and water-routing improvements in the area. Turning west, the group crossed Delridge Way, and stopped by the planting strip on the south side of the Super 24 store, where, as previewed here last week, the Nature Consortium had a cleanup project under way:

(You might recall some controversy over that planting strip – which previously had been part of a small perpendicular-parking area, and then, when converted, was overpaved, leading to the creation of the beds that were weeded today.) NC executive director Merica Whitehall spoke here during today’s event:

She told the mayor and participants about her organization’s work with the community and with the West Duwamish Greenbelt, in tandem with thousands of volunteers every year:

The alley leading toward Delridge Library was the next segment of the route:

While walking northbound in the alley, community advocate Pete Spalding (above right) talked about neighbors’ watchfulness and the principle “if you see something, say something.” The mayor also heard from library manager Jane Appling, whose staffers and clients have to deal with what happens in the alley, too, and with North Delridge Neighborhood Council‘s Michael Taylor-Judd (below left):

(At right in the photo above is city traffic engineer Dongho Chang, seen at many a local project meeting.) Concerns related to the alley, besides its overall condition, continue to range from vandalism to drug use; the mayor mentioned the ongoing work to hire more officers for SPD, as well as rampant problems attributed to the nation’s “drug epidemic.” Finding needles and syringes was a problem also mentioned by Delridge P-Patch volunteers, who spoke at the next stop:

They also spoke of successes including their Giving Garden – growing food-bank donations – and how they were able to convert some young area troublemakers into garden volunteers. Some of the walkers moved on through the garden, still beautifully in bloom for fall …

… while some stopped for treats, including the mayor:

Food was the focus at the next stop, the space reserved on the ground floor of Cottage Grove Commons for the Delridge Grocery Co-op‘s future permanent home:

DGC volunteers met the visitors and talked about their years of work to get a store open to help make Delridge less of a “food desert.” This week, they announced to their 400+ members that they had been told “informally” that DGC would be declined for a loan it had hoped would bring a big boost toward opening – but they vow to push on and find financing some other way. This stop was a rare chance, by the way, to look inside their future space at 5444 Delridge Way SW – mouse over our Instagram clip to play a :15 clip panning around inside:

In the courtyard of Cottage Grove Commons, those who hadn’t straggled off along the way heard about the building – open now for almost two years as housing for people who were previously homeless – and that one of residents and managers’ biggest concerns is nearby traffic and safely crossing the street. This is where tragedy was mentioned – the death of a CGC resident hit by a car in November of last year. This next clip also includes the mayor’s closing remarks:

With his promise to return, the first West Seattle “Find It, Fix It” walk wrapped up after about an hour and 20 minutes – a visit that had been months in the making.

Perhaps one of the most important exchanges was back at the P-Patch, where the garden volunteers said they didn’t know how to ask for help with some of their problems – where to go in city government. The mayor said for one, speaking up at the event was the same as asking for help. For two, he said, his staff is working on ways for people to navigate the tangle of city departments and services more easily. Sometimes it might seem like departments are in silos – but a sighting along the way was a reminder that it doesn’t have to be that way:

Staffers from multiple departments – including the firefighter in our photo – carried grabbers and bright yellow bags, picking up trash and debris as they walked in the Saturday sunshine.

P.S. Both candidates for West Seattle’s new District 1 City Council seat were there too; photos to come, in a separate report looking ahead to Election Day, now exactly one month away.

P.P.S. Lots of side conversations – we’ll be adding notes about the ones we hear of, like this mention from Sanislo Elementary, whose reps brought up the illegal dumping that’s a chronic problem nearby.

12 Replies to "VIDEO: Delridge 'Find It, Fix It' walk sees mayor, big city contingent considering concerns from safety to drainage"

  • ltfd October 3, 2015 (9:14 pm)

    “Staffers from multiple departments – including the police officer in our photo…” I know it’s hard to tell the uniforms apart now, but that’s a Seattle Firefighter in the photo- SFD patch, no ballistic vest, no cuffs/tazer/gun.

    Unfortunately, the bad guys also have trouble telling us apart now too.

  • WSB October 3, 2015 (9:28 pm)

    Thanks, Ltfd. I stand corrected and will fix. I must need new glasses. Didn’t squint well enough to note that’s radio equipment, not weaponry. Hadn’t considered the uniformity of the uniforms, either … TR

  • Dan October 3, 2015 (10:26 pm)

    Since I couldn’t make it and a certain issue Re. City Light and Night safety was not addressed. What should I do?

    • WSB October 3, 2015 (11:14 pm)

      Dan – do you know for sure that the issue in question wasn’t brought up by somebody on the sidelines? Lots of side conversations going on, it was clear – like the one about Sanislo, mentioned at the end. I wound up finding out about a City Light project in South Delridge (separate story to come, have to do a little more research) and talked with one of its managers about lighting in general – the P-Patch people did mention that, I should add. But if it’s a streetlight issue – here’s a tracker –

  • martin October 3, 2015 (10:35 pm)

    what great planning and use of time. Thanks for reporting this.

  • John October 4, 2015 (8:29 am)

    Sometimes simply enforcing the codes in place could help out.

    The alley behind the Delridge Library that the mayor walked is a great example.
    We can plainly see part of the problem looming behind the mayor in the photo; a wall of illegally high solid fences providing privacy for illicit activities.
    A complaint to DPD would make neighbors reduce the height of these fences and maybe start taking an interest in their alley, rather than burdening the city.

    The drainage problems have long persisted and are common all over the hillsides of Delridge. Old homes often have their hard surfaces draining directly onto the hillside or indirectly into the hill through ‘french drains’ as once allowed.
    Now all new construction requires complete permits and collection of hard surface run-off piped to a planted catch basin that must fill before draining into the storm system. Residents becoming educated about their own contributions to our infrastructure challenges could make a tremendous difference.

    Illegal dumping is also an issue common on the vacant hillsides of Delridge, perhaps dating back to the days of the old dump where South Seattle campus is. I have removed big tvs, refrigerators, stoves, many tires and wheels, hundreds of bottles, car & motorcycle parts/frames, diapers, baby strollers, paint cans, grass clippings, tree debris, concrete, broken chairs, you name it from a vacant lot on Pigeon Point.
    I marvel at the Sanislo Dump, it appears neighbors see the several “NO DUMPING” signs and confuse the message to “Free Late Night Dumping”. The Sanislo Dump is also the location of a water hazard deep enough to drown a child (I once snapped a photo of a duck paddling about it), that remains for days after rains.

  • judy October 4, 2015 (8:47 am)

    Thanks West Seattle Blog! Excellent report, great video coverage, and this demonstrates how you folks are reporters with the mostest! So good at keeping us informed, including helpful resources. I am passing this along to our neighborhood blog:-)

  • Scottgreer October 4, 2015 (2:43 pm)

    Wow! Great coverage- very succinct and thorough! Nice job TR/WSB!

  • chris cowman October 4, 2015 (9:59 pm)

    Does anyone know when city light is converting our meters to remote reading? Im at 5050 Delridge Way

  • sam-c October 5, 2015 (10:24 am)

    John, I take exception to your comment about the “neighbors'” use of the Sanislo dump. If you were on the neighborhood email list for this area of West Seattle, you would know that the ‘neighbors’ in the area hate to see things dumped here. Many people have asked what we can do, and some ‘neighbors’ have said they would like to find a way to install camera to record who is doing this. I think one ‘neighbor’ even offered to try and do the work to get it installed. Until the problem can be solved permanently, the ‘neighbors’ report the illegal dumping when they see it.

    as a neighborhood, it’s an unfortunate, recurring issue and unless you catch one of the ‘neighbors’ dumping there, you should re-think your assumptions. People from all over the region commit crimes in all areas of West Seattle.

  • Rita Thompson October 6, 2015 (8:28 am)

    Did any one else notice that majority of the people there had on City badges?? While the concept seems good, why do you need so many employees. How much money are you wasting on this instead of having actual workers come down and do the work? I’d rather see a bunch of employee there working, not just walking around with us enjoying coffee and cookies.

  • John October 6, 2015 (12:30 pm)

    People do indeed commit crimes all over the city, but people do not drive across town holding a dirty mattress on the roof of their car to discard it at the Sanislo Dump. The dumping is indeed a local crime of opportunity. Do install a camera. You will likely find someone from the neighborhood.

    I also agree with Rita, this was mainly an expensive show for neighborhood PR. I chuckled when I saw the large printed banner with “INACTION” rather than “IN ACTION” announcing the affair.

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