SDOT scales back grant-funded walkway near Chief Sealth IHS because of possible future development

(Above, original design made public in March; below; revised design announced today)

Sent late today by SDOT – news that they’re scaling back on planned pedestrian improvements because of possible future development. The update sent to the project mailing list was signed by outreach lead Michael Charles:

I am touching base with you to share an update on SDOT’s Chief Sealth High School Walkway Improvements project. This project is part of the Neighborhood Street Fund program, which funds community-requested projects.

Updated Design

In the original design, we planned to have a walkway along 25th Ave SW. This was removed because of the likelihood that a developer will submit a permit for construction on the east side of 25th Ave SW in the relatively near future. Knowing this, we’ve removed the paved walkway on 25th Ave SW from the project design, because the developer will be required, per the City’s Land Use Code, to construct similar right-of-way improvements.

We recognize that this is unwelcome news to some of you who looked forward to the improvements on 25th Ave SW. While it could still be several years before this development takes place, the high likelihood of its occurring means that investing public funds at this location would not be prudent.

We will continue to advance the project and improve the walkway on 26th Ave SW. Please see the project website to view the updated project design.

(That’s the second map at the top of this story.) This is the first major update since project feedback was sought back in March. The project website now has an updated “fact sheet.”

As for the possible development, we’ve just checked the parcels along the east side of 25th and have not found any early-stage filing that would correlate with what the city’s referring to, so far. But there’s vacant land on the north side of Trenton and 25th (as spotlighted unpleasantly during last year’s Find It, Fix It walk) – we’ll keep watching the files.

26 Replies to "SDOT scales back grant-funded walkway near Chief Sealth IHS because of possible future development"

  • AmandaK August 29, 2017 (10:43 pm)

    So, they are making no improvements based on speculation of future development?  The city has hit a new low in bowing out of projects for underserved communities.  What other projects, in what other parts of the city will not be funded based on speculation?  Where is the precedent?   This is absolutely absurd.  

    • Swede. August 29, 2017 (11:34 pm)

      They are actually saving the money and letting the developer pay for it when they do build there is what I read. Letting the high profiteering builders pay for some things benefiting the public is good in my book. 

      Granted we don’t know when or if it will be done so that off course isn’t great. 

      • Alki Resident August 29, 2017 (11:52 pm)

        Exactly Swede , took the words out of my mouth. 

      • AmandaK August 30, 2017 (7:37 am)

        Oh right!  That’s right, it’s totally okay for the City to not spend funds that the Citizens allocated to a project that the Citizens put forth, vetted and voted on.   All in the name of the Developers who have been doing such a good job making this City a Better Place for All.

        Nope, sorry Swede and Alki, that’s not the way grants work.  The City can’t change the rules because of speculation.  If there was an actual Plan in place to redevelop that area, I say go for it, use the money on one of the MANY other Citizen grants that were written as part of the NSF.  In the meantime, let’s hope we don’t hear of any more Denny/Sealth students getting held up on that path.  You know, the whole reason for the grant in the first place.

        You both take my breath away with your repeated dumping on Westwood.

        • KM August 30, 2017 (8:31 am)

          My goodness. A difference of opinion is not “a repeated dumping on Westwood.”

          Yes, I live in Westwood.

          • AmandaK August 30, 2017 (8:43 am)

            KM, Alki Resident has established comments on what they think we should or should not have – that is not helpful in a situation like this.  Sorry for the drama, I am really upset about this turn of developments from the city.

  • dsa August 29, 2017 (11:55 pm)


    There are schools, post office, public transportation, play fields and a shopping center.  I don’t understand the underserved part.

  • DH August 30, 2017 (6:33 am)

    The change makes sense. Unfortunate delay but sounds like a good move to not spend public funds on something that can be paid for by developers. I think the other improvement on 26th is sorely needed and will be a big help. 

    • AmandaK August 30, 2017 (7:41 am)

      DH, this change makes zero sense.  

  • AN August 30, 2017 (7:40 am)

    I really wish they would do sidewalks on 24th between Trenton and Thistle! This is a bus route with a lot of pedestrians. Kids walk this street every day to and from school. 

    • J August 30, 2017 (2:26 pm)

      It’s an extra wide street with speed bumps. Sidewalks would be nice but I don’t think there’s much danger in walking on that road and not being seen by drivers. The dirt path near the apartments on 25th and Trenton, and the side of Trenton near the vacant lot on 24th and Trenton are a bigger prob. Students use 25th from thistle more than 24th to get to Westwood because it’s a straight shot from chief stealth to 25th, but the path there is dark and muddy with lots of abandoned trash around it and overgrown shrubs.

  • WSMom August 30, 2017 (7:57 am)

    I understand what the city is wanting.  They are wanting to put the costs onto the developer but this should have been fixed a long time ago.  Kids shouldn’t have to walk in an unsafe area.  They wouldn’t do that to kids who go to WSHS so why would they expect kids to walk in an unsafe area who go to Sealth?  This walkway should have been addressed a long time ago.

  • Trickycoolj August 30, 2017 (8:15 am)

    How many more students have to get mugged or how much more does the danger to students and pedestrians have to escalate for the city to give a damn and reverse this and sell it to us like it was in the works all along and just coincidence they were planning to announce it?

    Getting real tired of people having to be assaulted or killed (or nearly killed) in a car accident for SDOT to consider a project worthy. 

  • wakeflood August 30, 2017 (8:47 am)

    If the city has a developer who has started the permitting process in earnest and has an expected improvement date, that’s one thing.  If it’s simply that whoever owns the land has speculated that they’ll be doing some development in the future, that’s entirely another.  One is a strong likelihood, the other is a maybe.  If it’s a maybe, then you build it as you promised and you tell the developer that when the time comes, the $ they WOULD have been required to use for that improvement will be used for other important improvements within the block.  That’s within a defensible physical area to apply an improvement requirement.   

  • Scott August 30, 2017 (9:04 am)

    I’m sorry but a new paved foot path is not going to stop muggings or assaults in that area. 

  • shell game August 30, 2017 (9:26 am)

    All good to save the taxpayers money but why so late in the game for grant dollars that could have gone to one of several community generated proposals in West Seattle?   

    Is SDOT going to use the money to support  other regional projects within the grant pool?   

  • JRR August 30, 2017 (10:02 am)

    I want to know the supposed timeline of this speculation. Maybe the landowner/developer can chime in? It also seems like these funds should be used directly elsewhere in the neighborhood, since we worked for it and haven’t had much in the way of public investment (or you know, any at all). I can think of about 20 other intersections/blocks without sidewalks/unsafe ped zones within a half-mile of the mall and local schools. WHAT DOES IT TAKE? Are we waiting for a death? Because those have already happened in Roxhill Park.

    • WSB August 30, 2017 (10:13 am)

      I am asking SDOT. This announcement came at EOD yesterday so there was no chance to follow up then.

    • Mike August 30, 2017 (9:38 pm)

      Until you put a politicians career on notice and impact their pocket book, nothing will happen.

  • Mark Schletty August 30, 2017 (10:40 am)

    Very interesting. SDOT says they shouldn’t waste money on a small pedestrian friendly project because of possible future  development in the area. But they think they should waste millions of dollars on the Fauntleroy entryway project when they know that it will have to be torn up for the light rail project. I guess they hate cars more than they like pedestrians.

    • JRR August 30, 2017 (11:53 am)

      No, they just don’t care about poor people or underrepresented people who have less power and a lower voice. Our neighborhood has TONS of people who only walk and use the bus — who don’t even own cars. Not providing infrastructure for our kids and all of us while we go about our days while pretending to be pedestrian friendly makes me livid. You can’t talk about walkable, safe streets and then leave them un lit with no sidewalks or crosswalks. Well, I mean, you can, as long as you make the rich neighborhoods walkable and safe.

  • Jim P. August 30, 2017 (12:32 pm)

    This is very silly.  Scaling it back on the merest hint of a whim of a maybe.

    That plot of land may get developed someday but it’s not going to happen soon and that path alongside the apartment building leading over to Thistle needs something as it’s turning into a bit of a hang out for shady people and a dumping ground for unwanted stuff.

    They can recoup the cost by simply charging whoever does build some sort of fee or another.

    By the way, does anyone know who would be responsible for the greenery around Sealth’s athletic field?’s overgrowing the sidewalk along Trenton and there’s blackberry vines in the mix.  Making it hard for a mobility challenged person to get through safely and a lot of trash disposed of in it makes a mess.  Kids and adults coming down the stairs from events or school find it a handy “dump anything you like here” place.

    • WSB August 30, 2017 (12:34 pm)

      Southwest Athletic Complex is Seattle Public Schools property.

  • Nancy Folsom August 31, 2017 (3:39 pm)

    Accommodating theoretical development by for-profit companies vs. actual, real-live overdue need now? Sure. That makes sense.

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