By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
The heart of summer is usually light on community meetings, but the District 1 Community Network had an information-packed July meeting this past week.
Three topics brought guests to the online meeting.
TERMINAL 5: The Northwest Seaport Alliance – which oversees cargo operations for the ports of Seattle and Tacoma – had updates on Terminal 5, the West Seattle facility that opened one “modernized” berth to ships earlier this year and continues construction on a second berth. For one, they’re now not expecting operations to launch at that second berth until early 2024.
As of the meeting on Wednesday night, the first berth had handled 38 vessel calls, out of 299 total in Seattle and Tacoma during the same time period.
57 percent of the cargo containers they’ve handled has been imports, 8 percent has been exports, and 35 percent empty containers. 30 percent of the cargo has been handled by rail, a capability that made Terminal 5 so attractive for upgrading and reopening. Speaking of rail, the NWSA contingent also talked about the “quiet zone” meant to reduce train-horn use along a .6-mile stretch of track from Riverside Mill to T-5. SDOT will be building its components, and won’t start until after the West Seattle high bridge reopens. (We’ll have a separate detailed update on the Quiet Zone project tomorrow.)
DEPARTMENT OF NEIGHBORHOODS: When Mayor Bruce Harrell talked with D1CN last month, he answered some questions by saying his new Department of Neighborhoods director Greg Wong would be a better person to ask. So this month, that’s what D1CN did. The first topic was an issue that goes back two mayoral administrations – the dismantling of the Neighborhood District Council system by ex-Mayor Ed Murray in 2016. West Seattle had two NDCs – Southwest for western WS community groups and organizations, Delridge for eastern WS – and while both tried to continue without city support, Southwest eventually officially disbanded and Delridge went dormant. (The D1CN is sort of a successor.) Wong said he wants to know “what’s the need, what’s missing, what was lost … (because) we have the opportunity to redo community involvement.” D1CN members’ answers to his question included that city government was more involved in community events under the old system, that community advocates had better channels of communication with the city, that the former district coordinators used to be consistent, plugged-in liaisons. And it wasn’t just connecting the city with the neighborhood advocates, but also helping the community groups work with each other, instead of in silos. D1CN participants also mentioned ongoing needs – support for translation, support for online engagement (Zoom accounts are expensive), and other logistical support. Wong acknowledged the concerns and also pointed out that his department currently only has four engagement coordinators for the entire city.
Other questions that had originally arisen in the conversation with the mayor included the long-promised community planning for Westwood-Highland Park; Wong said that is still in the works, and that some engagement was already under way with outreach to BIPOC-led/serving organizations. Also: What about White Center annexation? It was described as “not a key priority for the current executive” (mayor) though it was also acknowledged that the WC community is intertwined with WS and the city needs to be engaged on the south side of the boundary too.
WS DOG PARK COALITION: We reported back in February on this effort. Rachael Morris spoke to D1CN to explain that the group’s scope has widened beyond just advocating for another off-leash area in West Seattle. They want to engage a wide variety of community members, not just dog owners, but also people who have concerns about dogs. Their meetings are open to all. And they’re still working with the city on five suggested West Seattle sites for another dog park (as noted in our February story).
FAUNTLEROY COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION: The meeting was running overtime, so this got little discussion, but the FCA is asking for community groups’ support on its next letter to Washington State Ferries about the Fauntleroy dock/terminal rebuild. Their contention: “This is an issue for all of West Seattle.”
ANNOUNCEMENTS: The Port’s new park, Duwamish River People’s Park (8700 Dallas Ave. S. in South Park), will have its grand opening this Saturday (July 16th) … a street party in The Admiral District is in the works for August 27th … High Point is working on street murals … The West Seattle Chamber of Commerce/Port of Seattle’s annual State of the Park lunch is set for September 15th at Jack Block Park.
NEXT MEETING: D1CN will take August off and reconvene at 7 pm Wednesday, September 7th, online. (Watch here for the announcement and link.)