Staffing shortages at two city-government agencies were part of what the Alki Community Council heard about at its January meeting, held in-person and online this past Thursday night:
TENDING TO PARKS: The ACC has had a longstanding collaboration with Seattle Parks, including stewardship of Alki Statue of Liberty Plaza, which was a community-created/-funded project in the 00s. This area’s longtime crew chief Carol Baker recently retired, and the acting crew chief was a guest Thursday night.
Kristy Darcy is an 8-year Parks employee and a West Seattle resident. Darcy has worked in this district most of those 8 years with Parks. “Our district is very lucky, we have amazing parks … but we’re very short-staffed for the amount of parks we have” – 85 parks in West Seattle, 5 parks in South Park, and the crew is about half-staffed, with 15 people to maintain all those parks right now. Darcy is currently the only gardener. They’ve had one crew member working on removing large shrubs that were causing visibility problems at crosswalks; those will be replaced with lower-growing plants. They’ll need some volunteer help, in areas such as Statue of Liberty Plaza, with weeding, mulching, maybe bulb planting. Darcy said they’re also watching the plaza with the expectation of future high-tide events. Darcy also mentioned that a Seattle Public Utilities project is planned toward the east side of the promenade that might affect the planting beds. As acting crew chief, Darcy has a lot of administrative responsibilities, and can’t spend as much time out in the field: “It’s hard sometimes – it feels daunting … we do our best to prioritize our work and divide it equitably among our very large district.” Darcy says Parks expects to do a lot of hiring this year ‘and then we can beautify Alki once again.”
SEATTLE POLICE: Lt. David Terry of the Southwest Precinct was there along with Officer Kevin Canny, who works “nightly in the Alki area.” Lt. Terry showed a data-dashboard screengrab for the type of incidents that are logged from Alki.
He said the dashboard showed the highest number of logged incidents originated from what officers saw on patrol, followed by traffic stops – “it’s the work we’re doing for you guys,” proactively.
An attendee asked about a perennial Alki issue: So what about street racing? Officer Canny mentioned an incident last week in which they got word from Kirkland that ~200 cars were headed this way, so they took proactive action and shut down Don Armeni Boat Ramp, a popular gathering spot for driver groups. He said the big group arrived but was in the Alki area less than an hour, deciding to leave after seeing the police presence. They wrote four tickets for loud exhaust/speeding. (But he reiterated that an officer needs to see the violation to make a stop.) The advance notice helped them “get a jump on it,” compared to responding to reports of incidents that are often over once they’re aware. “That’s our goal. If anybody … gets information that there’s a car club coming to Alki, let us know, we’d rather get there before it causes an issue.”
As for staffing, Terry said the precinct remains low: Minimum staffing for 3rd Watch (the night shift, which he supervises) is supposed to be 10 officers. Sick leave, training, etc., has left him perennially under that level. In December, they had several nights with as few as 3 officers to cover the entire precinct (West Seattle and South Park): “it was crazy how low we were, on our staff.”
NEW WEBSITE: The ACC’s been without an updated site for years, but next month they hope to launch a new site at a new address, alkicommunitycouncil.org. In addition to serving as a stable source of information, the new website also will enable online dues payment (ACC is one of the few community groups with dues).
FUTURE MEETINGS: ACC president Tony Fragada says he’s hoping to have SDOT attend an upcoming meeting – maybe even February – to talk about possibilities for Alki traffic-calming. ACC meets on third Thursdays, so the next meeting will be February 17th.