West Seattle, Washington
We’ve spent the past three-plus hours in the city Hearing Examiner‘s hearing room on the 40th floor of the Municipal Tower downtown, listening to arguments in the appeal of the city’s decision granting two “departures” for the Denny Middle School/Chief Sealth High School co-located campus project. (Those “departures” allow the project to exceed height requirements – for the “galleria” roof peak shown in the rendering above — and to not meet parking requirements, and were finalized by the city after going through a community/district advisory committee.) The appeal was argued by West Seattle-based district watchdog Chris Jackins, who brought two retired educators as witnesses; they focused largely on arguments against the co-location in general, rather than focusing on the parking/height issues that were officially challenged. Defending the decision, the city Department of Planning and Development and also private land-use lawyer Richard Hill on behalf of Seattle Public Schools. Jackins’ contentions include “The project will have adverse impacts on views and shading, removal of trees and vegetation, and parking and traffic,” and “The DPD decision … did not properly balance the ‘project’s relationship to educational needs’ ‘with the level of impacts on the surrounding area’.” Deputy hearing examiner Anne Watanabe heard the case and will now take it under advisement; she says she will issue her written decision within 14 days.
We usually do not publish complete “tags” on WSB, as it’s believed publicity may further encourage tagging vandals, but this time, police actually are asking us to show you these two photos in hopes you might be able to solve a costly crime: One month after we first told you about a break-in and vandalism spree at the permanent Chief Sealth High School site (WSB coverage here and here), currently closed for renovation work, Southwest Precinct Detective Nick Bauer tells WSB the damage now totals $200,000; much of that damage was from a fire set by the burglar(s), but they also broke windows, skylights, and even some equipment in the library. Believed to be linked to the break-in: Graffiti vandalism on the roof, as seen above and below:
What police are asking is this: If you have seen graffiti/tagging in a style resembling either of these photos – or if even better, you have any idea who the “writer(s)” might be – please give them a call. CrimeStoppers of Puget Sound is a good place to start, since you can tip anonymously: 206-343-2020 or 800-222-TIPS. SPD also has a non-emergency line, 206-625-5011. Just one of the ways in which your tip could help: Police can check their databases for known taggers, and if it turns out that something you have seen has already been linked to a certain offender, that may help them make the connection that cracks this case. Side note: The white blob in the top photo is our edit to block a profanity; investigators wonder if “f— the merger ” might be a reference to the end result of the work that is under way now, not only renovating CSHS but also building a new Denny Middle School on the same campus.
(rendering courtesy Weber Thompson)
We reported after the last meeting last Thursday night that it was expected a special meeting date would be set April 2nd for the Conner Homes Junction megaproject to return to the Design Review Board – now that date is confirmed in the latest Land Use Information Bulletin – the meeting’s at 6:30 pm April 2nd, at West Seattle Christian Church (more room than the High Point Library where the last meeting happened, and no time limit). Here’s the notice; here’s our full report on last week’s meeting.
ALSO FROM TODAY’S LAND USE INFORMATION BULLETIN:
-Appeal hearing set April 24 for land-use decisions related to the Denny-Sealth project (here’s the notice)
-Official notices of two other Design Review meetings we’d already reported here – both on April 9, both at Madison Middle School – 2988 SW Avalon at 6:30 pm (here’s the notice), 4532 42nd SW at 8 pm (here’s the notice)
The day after we reported on vandalism/arson damage at the Chief Sealth High School (permanent) campus, which is closed till summer of next year for major renovations, we have some followup information from Seattle Public Schools. We asked how security would be beefed up – SPS spokesperson Tom Redman‘s reply: “The general contractor for the Sealth renovation project has contracted with a professional security firm for guard services to patrol the Sealth building and grounds.” We also asked how much the damage would cost to repair – no dollar figure provided; Redman said, “Most of the damage is limited to broken glass and a small fire in one classroom, in addition to possible smoke damage. The general contractor’s insurance company’s risk adjusters are assessing the extent and cost of the damage.”
Some updates on Denny Middle School, from a conversation with Principal Jeff Clark: First big one, the move-in plan has changed for the new Denny that’ll be built on the nearby Chief Sealth High School campus. As we reported in recent months, there was a tentative plan to make the move over winter break 2010-2011. Now, Clark says, that plan’s been scrapped, since it would likely have been educationally disruptive, to say the least. The plan is now to move the Denny staff immediately after the end of the school year in June 2011 (so Denny summer programs that year will happen on the new campus), and start classes there in fall 2011. Also from our visit to Denny (and more to come later): Music director Marcus Pimpleton will lead the Denny Marching Band in tomorrow’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade downtown (parade info here), so if you’re going, watch for them!
That’s the doorhanger that people living around the Chief Sealth High School (permanent) campus will get this week, according to managers for the project that includes both Sealth renovations and the construction of the new Denny Middle School on the Sealth campus. It includes major digging for gas and water lines. As we reported last week, the district changed its mind about a big “groundbreaking” celebration for this phase, but the work proceeds, with the goal of Sealth moving back in fall of 2010, and Denny opening in 2011.
First, Seattle Public Schools announced a March 12 groundbreaking ceremony for the next phase of the Sealth/Denny construction project; then they announced last week it would be postponed till they had the permits all in hand; now, Tom Redman from the district tells WSB they’ve just decided to save the money and not have a groundbreaking event after all, in favor of spending the $ on “two big community celebrations” when Chief Sealth reopens in 2010 and when the new Denny Middle School on the Sealth campus opens in 2011.
Just got a call from David Tucker with the Seattle Public Schools communications team: The “groundbreaking ceremony” for the next stage of the Chief Sealth High School/Denny Middle School co-located campus project has been postponed. It originally was planned for March 12th, but the “master use permit” has not yet been granted by the city (here’s the city DPD page for the site), and Tucker says they want to be sure that permit’s in hand before they have a celebration. They won’t set a new date till the permit is officially granted. Other work has been under way at the site for months, but this phase will include some major construction, including the Commons to be shared by the two schools, according to the project team. Meantime, another school ceremony is coming up in our area: An event celebrating the international school designations for Denny MS and Concord Elementary (first reported here Feb. 11), 10 am next Tuesday at Concord (which is in South Park but is considered part of the West Seattle South elementary cluster).
Tonight’s meeting of the Design Team for the Redevelopment of the Denny Middle School Site – whose efforts we’ve been chronicling since September – was a momentous one. What you see above is the “preferred plan” for the site, drawn after many meetings in which community members, school employees, district consultants debated what to do with the site, with just three main prerequisites: It needed to have a softball field and tennis courts, to replace the ones removed on the current Chief Sealth campus as it transforms into the joint campus of Sealth and the future Denny, plus it’s supposed to hold space open for a possible elementary school some years down the road – read on for more details on this plan, and what happens next:Read More
GROUNDBREAKING: Work’s been under way for months now on the Chief Sealth High School upgrades that are going in prior to construction of a new Denny Middle School on the CSHS campus – and tonight there’s word of a “groundbreaking celebration” for the next phase of work, set for March 12th. More details later this week, according to the project-management team. The project website has some toplines about what’s been happening this month; see them here.
CLOSURE AMENDMENTS: As reported previously, if any Seattle School Board members plan to make amendments to the “final recommendations” for school closure/changes currently slated for a Thursday vote, they’ve been asked to turn in said amendments by noon tomorrow. We checked with the Seattle Public Schools communications office to ask if any such amendments would be then made available to the media before they’re published on the district website (which is supposed to happen Wednesday). Got the answer this afternoon: No.
During Seattle Public Schools‘ current closure process, we’ve heard a lot about “design teams” — groups formed to talk through a project, with members drawn from a variety of groups with stakes in the process (district employees, school reps, community members). Tonight, one of those teams continued working through the process of designing what will happen on the current Denny Middle School site, once the new Denny is built and open. They’re close to a final design; three options were developed in the past few months, and recapped at the start of tonight’s meeting by Robert Evans, Denny-Sealth project manager. Landscape architect Jonathan Morley ran through a PowerPoint presentation (you can see it here either as a narrated clip, or drag the playbar along to fast-forward through the slides). As we’ve reported earlier in the process, the Denny site may eventually be home to a new elementary school, in addition to the tennis courts and softball team that are being installed as a replacement for what’s been torn out on the Chief Sealth site, so each of the three options was shown with and without a school building. Team members were asked to identify which features they liked most, so a “hybrid” drawing can be developed before the next meeting February 9th; the most popular ones included keeping existing trees, incorporating rain gardens and swales to keep rainwater onsite, and creating a terraced area for use as an amphitheater. Once a final proposal is developed, it will require School Board approval. You can find district background on the project on this website; our past coverage of the design-team meetings, newest to oldest, are part of our Denny-Sealth story archive.
The current Seattle Public Schools school-closure process has included prominent recent mentions of “design teams,” to be created — with participation from various school/community representatives — in hopes they’ll help the upcoming transitions succeed. That said, we wanted to note that a “design team” is continuing to work in West Seattle right now – the one that’s been helping the district plan what will be done with the Denny Middle School site after the school buildings close when the new Denny is done on the nearby Chief Sealth High School campus. That team will meet again next Monday night (1/12), 7 pm at the Denny library – and in the meantime, you can see what ideas are in the works, by viewing a video posted on the district website. As the video’s written introduction explains, few team members attended the last meeting December 15th because of the weather – so the district asked its landscape architect to record his presentation on video. You can see it here; other links related to the ongoing process are here (including photos and graphics from recent meetings – that’s your editor with the laptop in photo #1).
“It only took a year,” apologized one district official, ruefully, before tonight’s Denny Middle School Site Redevelopment Design Team four-hour “charrette” (which is just getting under way now that non-district and non-consultant participants have arrived) — but, elapsed time aside, they are happy to announce tonight that there’s finally an official website for the Denny-Sealth project and other district BEX (Building Excellence) projects. The start page is at bex.seattleschools.org – the Denny-Sealth-specific information starts here, and includes everything from a photo gallery to permit information to the meeting calendar (including non-district meetings at which the project will be discussed).
DENNY MIDDLE SCHOOL SITE REDEVELOPMENT DESIGN TEAM: 5-9 pm, Denny MS library, “design charrette” to rough out a proposed plan for the site, once Denny is torn down after its new building on the Chief Sealth HS campus is done. (WSB coverage of the previous meeting is here.)
FAUNTLEROY WAY LANE RECONFIGURATION OPEN HOUSE: 5:30-8:30 pm, High Point Community Center (map), go register your comments and get information about the proposal to change Fauntleroy between Alaska and California to one lane each way plus a center turn lane when repaving work is done next year. (Previous WSB coverage is linked from this post.)
WEST SEATTLE HI-YU FESTIVAL MEETING AND CHRISTMAS RECEPTION: 6:30 pm, Merrill Gardens on 35th (map). All welcome to share ideas as Hi-Yu chooses its float theme for next year, and celebrates the holiday season. (More here.)
First the quicker note: The next meeting of the Denny Middle School Site Design Team (most recent WSB coverage here) has been rescheduled and expanded – the 11/17 evening meeting’s been called off, and a Saturday 11/22 9 am-1 pm “design charrette” at Camp Long Lodge will replace it. Now, the more complicated note: As expected, the Seattle School Board moved forward last night — in a four-plus-hour meeting — with notification-policy changes that will facilitate a tight timeline for the next round of school closures. Superintendent Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson also described the criteria on which schools are being evaluated:
• Geographic Need: How to balance capacity across the district to ensure the appropriate number of seats in each geographic area.
• Building Condition: Recent surveys and analyses will be used to evaluate the quality and condition of each building, using factors such as cost of maintenance, lot size, etc.
• Cost per Pupil: How non-instructional costs per student, including both core staffing and administrative mitigation, compare with District averages.
• Proximity: Whether other nearby schools serve the same grade levels.
• Academic Performance: Whether the school has made the expected annual academic progress under the federal No Child Left Behind law.
The first draft of the proposed closure list is to be announced on November 25th. A whirlwind process of public hearings immediately before and after the district’s winter break would follow. The full timeline appears again in the post-meeting district news release (from which the criteria list above is excerpted); which you can read it in its entirety here.
All those sticky notes, and dozens more, represent the latest progress toward figuring out what will happen at the Denny Middle School site after the new school opens on the Chief Sealth campus. Even though that’s more than two years away, Seattle Public Schools managers want a final design in place within the next few months, and that’s why Design Team meetings are under way. Last time, we reported on a meeting for which few showed up; tonight, a better turnout, and as SPS manager Don Gillmore put it, this was the end of the “abstract” part of the process — read on for more on what happened and what’s next:Read More
2 major meetings on the WSB Events calendar: 1:30 pm at the King County Council Chambers, it’s the King County Ferry District public hearing we’ve been telling you about – if you can possibly break away to go voice your support for the Elliott Bay Water Taxi, it could mean a lot to the service’s future; if you can’t be there, send a WT support note to firstname.lastname@example.org … 7 pm tonight @ Denny Middle School, it’s the next session for the Design Team plotting the Denny site’s future, once the school itself moves to a new building on the Chief Sealth campus (here’s our report on the last meeting).
Loved that bumper sticker the first time we saw it, on a car along a Fauntlee Hills street. Might have been the same car on which we photographed it Saturday morning, after the Democratic Get Out the Vote rally at The Hall at Fauntleroy. Anyway, it certainly applied to this afternoon’s third meeting — a meeting that almost wasn’t — of the Design Team that’s helping shape what will happen to the Denny Middle School site, once the current school is demolished after the new Denny is built at the Chief Sealth High School campus – read on:Read More
Two quick previews: The Design Team (with school and community reps) helping shape the future of the Denny Middle School site (once the new Denny is built on the Chief Sealth HS campus nearby) meets at 3 pm today, Denny library (map). All welcome; here’s our report on the last meeting. Then tonight at 7, Sustainable West Seattle meets at the Camp Long Lodge – with the agenda including a look at both sides of Sound Transit Proposition 1. ADDED MONDAY AFTERNOON: We are also reminded that the Departure Advisory Committee for the Denny/Sealth project, which is reviewing the district’s request for less parking and more building height than zoning would allow, meets at the Denny library at 7 tonight.
That posterboard propped up at last night’s meeting of the Design Team for the Redevelopment of the Denny Middle School Site (yes, that’s its official name) spells out the school district’s baseline priorities for the 6-acre site (map) even before the Design Team process gets going in earnest: The softball and tennis facilities are replacements for what will be lost when the new Denny is built on the Chief Sealth campus; the “potential elementary school” is something that has recently emerged and is now being discussed more loudly — we first heard it from West Seattle school-board rep Steve Sundquist at Westwood Neighborhood Council meetings; earlier in the year, he mentioned the district might have to build another school on the site; then at Monday’s WNC meeting focused on the Denny site (WSB coverage here), he said it was likely to be an elementary-school site. Last night, Don Gillmore from the school district elaborated that a new elementary school might be built there with the closure of three (unspecified) others, and noted that the closed Hughes site also is a “prime candidate” for a future new elementary school. Way down the road but keep your ears up. Meantime, on to what happened last night and what happens next with the Denny site plan, plus an update on construction status at the Chief Sealth site, just ahead:Read More
Reminder that the school-district-organized Design Team charged with helping settle the future of the current Denny Middle School site meets 7 pm tonight at Denny, two days after the Westwood Neighborhood Council‘s meeting to discuss the community’s hopes for the site (WSB coverage here), once the school is demolished after its replacement is built on the Sealth campus. Meantime, the Departure Advisory Committee tasked with reviewing the district’s request for code “departures” as part of the Sealth/Denny consolidation — to enable less parking and more height — settled on a recommendation last night. Member Monica Kenny says the committee recommended approving the “departures” with a fairly sizable list of conditions, including signage, some street-parking restrictions in nearby neighborhoods, angle parking on the east side of 27th between Thistle and Kenyon, and providing neighbors with a “master calendar” of major events planned at the school. They’ll meet again Oct. 20th to make a final decision.
Just a few months till Seattle Public Schools aims to have a final decision on the future of the Denny Middle School site, once the new Denny is built and occupied on the Chief Sealth campus nearby – and tonight was the first of three key meetings in the process that are all happening this week. The Westwood Neighborhood Council organized this one in hopes of clarifying community priorities for the Denny site, and the cozy group in attendance emerged with a list:Read More
Though Denny Middle School won’t be moving into its new location on the Chief Sealth campus for 2+ years, Seattle Public Schools wants to lock down a plan for the current Denny site’s future within a matter of months. A district-organized Design Team already has had its first meeting; tonight, the Westwood Neighborhood Council is offering the community a chance to voice its hopes and dreams. 7:30 pm, Southwest Community Center. (As we mentioned over the weekend, this is the first of three Denny/Sealth-related meetings over the next three nights; we are also reminded this morning that Friday night also brings a major school district-related meeting to West Seattle — 6:30 pm Friday, West Seattle High School library, the community meeting to talk about what should be in the district’s next levy request; see the flyer here.)
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