September means community groups are back on their meeting schedules again, with most still meeting online. Last Thursday night, three topics were in the spotlight as the Alki Community Council resumed its third-Thursday schedule:
POLICE STAFFING: That made up most of what the ACC heard from Southwest Precinct Lt. David Terry. As he’s said in past briefings, they’re understaffed – minimum number of officers at night is supposed to be 9, and that night (Thursday) they were down to 7 – SPD offers OT for officers interested in filling the gap, but more and more are saying no. “So we’re running the shift with shorter numbers, which is crazy” – this weekend they faced the possibility of being down to 6 or 7 on a shift. Lt. Terry summarized, “We’re out of bodies.” In response to an attendee’s questions, Lt. Terry acknowledged that they sometimes have even fewer in West Seattle/South Park because they have to lend officers to a “task force” callout elsewhere in the city, and when that happens – these days, mostly for nightlife safety – the SW Precinct may be down to “4 or 5 officers for 17 square miles.” Attendees mentioned they are disappointed that Seattle Parks returned to regular closing time at Alki this week and asked what SPD thinks about it. Lt. Terry said he couldn’t offer an opinion, just the observation that it would most likely mean “more calls for service.” As for Alki police responses over the summer – there was a “small spike” in June and July but a drop in August. “You’re still the second safest area in all of West Seattle” (after Fauntleroy), he noted.
FRIENDS OF ALKI NEIGHBORHOODS: Quality-of-life concerns – crime among them – have given rise to this new group, FANS for short. Reps formally introduced themselves at the ACC meeting with a presentation. Here’s the new group’s purpose:
“We want to voice our interest as one connected neighborhood … we’re all experiencing the same thing,” said Mollie Means, who led the presentation. What they all have in common: Proximity to Alki Beach Park. Means estimates that 24,000 people comprise the Alki neighborhoods. They’re putting together a survey to identify the key issues they want the city to address. “We want to gather data to support strategic initiatives.” They hope that will lead to change that enhances the experience of residents and visitors alike. This past summer was problematic in multiple ways, she said – first “car caravans” visiting, then the chaotic “kickback” crowd in May, then the June quadruple shooting that left one man dead. “What was really effective is that (after that) Police and Parks worked together to ‘tweak” the way things work at the beach.
Pending survey results, here’s some of what FANS hopes to advocate for:
“We’re trying to unite all of us (toward) a safe, welcoming (place) for everyone,” Means concluded.
The ACC voted to give FANS $2,000 to help develop the survey.
SAVE THE STONE COTTAGE: Mike Shaughnessy from Save The Stone Cottage updated the ACC. He recapped the backstory, including an early proposal to donate the structure to the Parks Department for a site near the Alki Bathhouse (WSB coverage here) and the crowdfunding campaign to pay for the move. Now it’s been a month since the Stone Cottage was moved off its site to port property (WSB coverage here), where it’s expected to remain for “two to four years” until its permanent home is determined. They’ve just received a Community Advocacy award from Historic Seattle, too.
So now, they’re regrouping, looking at options for a permanent site – a Parks site is still a possibility but “any (of those options) is going to be an uphill battle.” And he said “we want this in a location where it’s going to be used,” not hidden away. Don Armeni isn’t quite that kind of site. Shaughnessy says the once-proposed site near the Bathhouse still interests him; Salty’s on Alki (WSB sponsor) has interest in it being on the restaurant property and used as a walk-up takeout stand. “It needs to stay in the Alki area where its roots are,” added Deb Barker of Save The Stone Cottage.
How did the cottage fare durng the move? asked an attendee. “We did not lose a rock!” Shaughnessy exulted.
“It will eventually be shrink-wrapped,” Barker added. She added that they’re “still discovering things that were meant to be seen eventually,” like some old family signatures around the back of the cottage.
The rough estimate of what’ll be needed to restore it and place it on a permanent site is about $300,000, Shaughnessy said; it also would have to be placed on a raised foundation to account for sea-level rise. (Donations are still being accepted here.)
ALKI STATUE OF LIBERTY PLAZA: Briefly mentioned – this community-funded plaza is falling into disrepair, and it’s hard to get Parks’ attention, attendees noted. Barker suggested starting a volunteer advocacy group.
NEXT ACC MEETING: Thursday, October 21st, 7 pm.