By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
The biggest news at last night’s meeting of HPAC – the community coalition for Highland Park, Riverview, and South Delridge – was from another organization, HPIC.
While there’s been a fair amount of post-session grousing about what the State Legislature did and didn’t do this season, for the Highland Park Improvement Club, there’s pure delight in news that almost a million dollars in state grant money is on the way. HPIC is raising about $3 million to rebuild after its historic building at 12th/Holden was gutted by fire in 2021, and HPIC’s Rhonda Smith told HPAC last night that legislators gave final approval for a previously mentioned $400,000 grant plus another for $500,000.
We’re expecting to hear more from HPIC about this soon, but in the meantime, Smith exulted, “Not only can we break ground, but we can also do some construction,” even as they continue raising the rest of what’s needed. “When you keep pushing and pushing, your voice gets heard.”
The main guests at the HPAC meeting, held online, were there to talk about a different construction project – the West Duwamish Wet Weather Storage Facility, centered on a 1.25 million-gallon underground storage tank meant to keep combined wastewater and stormwater from polluting the Duwamish River during heavy rains. Demmelash Adera from the project team led the briefing. They’re well into design, he said, adding that they incorporated community concerns and suggestions voiced in a survey last year. Greenspace around the facility near the 1st Avenue South bridge, at 2nd/Michigan, is important, Adera said.
They plan a solar installation to supply some of the power to run the facility, he added. Much of the rest of the briefing focused on what they’re doing to be sure people in West Seattle and South Park neighborhoods know about the project. Visiting meetings like HPAC is just part of the plan – they’ll also be out at summer events like the Duwamish River Festival, and they’ll be sending mailers to 6,000 addresses. They’re also working with community connectors like a group of South Park women known as Mujeres Conectoras.
Next milestone for the project – they’ll announce two artists next month. Construction is still expected to start in 2025. And yes, the planning and design is taking climate change into consideration, KCWTD’s Maud de Bel assured the attendee who asked about it: “This size should be good enough for a long, long time.”
Another meeting guest was the Southwest Precinct‘s night-shift commander Lt. Nathan Shopay. Asked about last weekend’s home-invasion robbery near 14th/Henderson (WSB coverage here), Lt. Shopay said he didn’t have anything to divulge, but detectives have it “under full investigation” and are very interested in community tips and information. That goes for all crimes or suspected crimes, he said. They’re particularly interested right now in anything that can help stop the escalating trend of auto thefts; Lt. Shopay said they’re beginning to suspect it might be the work of an organized theft ring rather than a large number of one-offs.
He was followed by Michelle McClendon of LEAD, who said the work to clean up the situation at South Delridge’s Rozella Building was continuing to progress. She said its owner is looking at seeking historic-landmark status for the building. She added that outreach workers are continuing to meet with tent and RV campers along sections of SW Holden.
HPAC meets fourth Wednesdays of most months, 7 pm, online for now – watch hpacws.org for updates.