By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Riverview Playfield needs some TLC – including repairs for a restroom damaged by fire last year, the Highland Park Action Committee agreed last night, during a meeting that spanned a wide range of neighborhood concerns:
RIVERVIEW TLC AND FIRE REPAIRS: With improvements completed and under way at Westcrest Park and Highland Park, HPAC talked about supporting some attention for Riverview Playfield. Its then-three-year-old restroom/storage building was set on fire last June and still hasn’t been fixed; HPIC member Craig Rankin reported contacting Seattle Parks recently to ask about that and being told that staff is working on an estimate so it can be added to an “asset list” to be handled sometime in 2018-2023.
The fields are popular for sports, including being the home of West Seattle Baseball, so potential revenue loss for the city was discussed. HPAC hopes to have this and other Riverview needs on the list of stops for the Highland Park “Find It, Fix It Walk“ later this year.
Speaking of which …
WAITING TO FIND OUT ABOUT ‘FIND IT, FIX IT’: The plan to have one in HP was announced by a city rep almost two months ago at a community meeting about the sanctioned encampment on Myers Way. But there’s been no word of the date or of the start of a planning process.
So HPAC’s going to start talking about where they want to go on the walk and what they want to see accomplished. Besides Riverview, the Highland Park Way/Holden intersection – for which locals have long been trying to get safety upgrades – will be a prime spot to visit.
Speaking of the encampment …
COMMUNITY ADVISORY COUNCIL FOR CAMP SECOND CHANCE: HPAC chair Gunner Scott asked if anyone would be able to represent HPAC on this newly formed group, part of the deal for the city sanctioning of the encampment. Scott noted that some of the services that they’ve requested for the camp and vicinity – lighting, Dumpster, etc. – are showing up (we recently reported the lighting installation). HPAC members also talked about getting solicited to join some of the regional groups that have sprung up to campaign against camps, and while HPAC has concerns about the city’s policies and plans, they’re skeptical of the groups’ motives and memberships and not planning to join.
YOUR VOICE, YOUR CHOICE: Also on the community-advisory front, this ongoing new city process for vetting potential street/park grant projects was the subject of a discussion similar to the one at the Admiral Neighborhood Association last week – that the process as it is now is not nearly as effective and thorough as the old one done through district councils, where presentations of projects for review would include information from neighborhood residents who know the area. Scott had been to one of the “project development” meetings where he said people were asking each other, do you know this area? Is this something that’s needed?
It was also noted that $285,000 per council district seems to be less than was allocated before – “$2.85 per person,” as one attendee noted, since West Seattle has ~100,000. Also, chair Scott noted, the grant process has been under way for so many years, there should be an existing list of needs “instead of making us go through this crazy process.” And Scott noted that all the complaints about district councils not reaching out to enough people don’t seem to have been acted on by the city – and now they’ve turned what was a two-meeting process into a four-meetings-and-more process. One person said it was great that there were so many ideas from West Seattle – more than 200 (as reported here).
HPAC is considering sending a letter with the suggestion that basic needs be addressed in the future before another round of new ideas is solicited. Another suggestion was that proposals, especially those made repeatedly, exist in “living documents” within the city somewhere so there can be reference – “since this was first proposed in 1986, the population has tripled” type of information. One person said that it’s frustrating to see projects get requested year after year, but some projects not requested turn up seemingly overnight.
HPAC leadership will talk more about the issue. Co-chair Michele Witzki suggested getting a rep from Feet First to come talk with the group so they can learn more about effective advocacy.
CRIME UPDATES: Southwest Precinct Operations Lt. Ron Smith presented the latest info as the meeting began: Auto theft is up, car prowls are down. Property crimes overall are down a third.
This week’s Seaview package-theft arrest was a springboard for a discussion of how security cameras really help police. Lt. Smith said, “The quality is so good – it’s amazing. For each car prowler or package thief we arrest, they’re good for many, many more.”
Would the precinct consider offering training on security-camera use and best practices? Lt. Smith will look into it. Maybe, he said, that could be a project for former intern Jennifer Burbridge, who he said has been hired as a full-time crime analyst – the first time the Southwest Precinct has had one.
A few more minutes of discussion with Lt. Smith touched on derelict properties, trespass agreements, and how to complain to the city. One attendee said it’s clear the rules/laws have to change – and that it’s time for citizens to apply pressure on that.
NEW LOOK FOR HPAC: Chair Scott had big props for artist Dina Lydia of digital-genie.com, who designed the new logo for the group (and took the photo below featuring the logo with, from left, Witzki, Scott, HPIC’s Christie Sjostrom, and Rankin):
HPAC will also be sending postcards to more than 2,000 people in the Highland Park area to let them know. They hope, among other things, to reduce community confusion between HPAC and HPIC (which is a community group too but not a community council – as the latter, HPAC addresses issues and takes action on them).
EVENTS AHEAD: HPAC hopes to have a neighborhood cleanup/barbecue this summer … HPIC events ahead include Corner Bar on April 7, Art Lounge on April 14, and the annual Uncorked benefit on May 20th – tickets will go on sale April 7th … watch for more info at hpic1919.org.
Highland Park Action Committee meets fourth Wednesdays most months, 7 pm, at Highland Park Improvement Club (12th/Holden).