Surplus City Light Properties Discussion at HPAC

Seattle City Light has some surplus properties in our neighborhood that they are considering selling and are seeking public comment on the idea. More information can be found on Seattle City Light’s surplus properties website.  We asked them to come discuss these properties with us at last night’s HPAC meeting. We also asked Seattle Parks to comment on them: they are not interested in these properties as they are not located in any gaps in park locations according to their gap analysis studies.
One site is the old Trolley property at 8820 9th ave SW- near 9th and Henderson:
This is the site of the old Highland Park Lake Burien Trolley Barn and was the Sub station that provided power to the Trolley. A bit of history about this property sent to me by a Highland Park resident: This land was originally donated to the community of Highland Park by Clyde and Grace Sherman to build the car barn and substation so the community could have transportation and power.  The Sherman’s lived next door to the south in the tall house that still exists.  The Trolley line was independently owned by local community shareholders but when there was a land slide near the Abrahamson brick yard on West Marginal Way the local shareholders could not finance the replacement of the tracks and the land became the property of the City after a deal was made to repair the tracks and and run the line for a certain  number of years.  This became the first City owned street car line.
King County may be interested in this property near 9th and Henderson for Green Stormwater Infrastructure / Roadside Raingardens. If this were to happen, there would be community input and involvement through design. We heard support from community members that this would be a good use of the property- it is a very preliminary idea and no studies or decisions have been made. We also heard support of an idea to install a solar powered phone charging station available to the community in case of emergencies at this site.
The point was also made that this  property was donated to the city by a member of the community, and proceeds from the sale of the property should come back to the community in the form of funds for our underfunded parks projects. City Light, however, has some very strict orders/laws that dictate where the proceeds from the sale go.
The other property is located  across from the Seven Eleven at 1605 SW Holden:
We heard from the majority of the community members present that they do not want this property to become a park.
There was a lot of discussion about this property on 16th and Holden. Most of those present at the meeting would like to see this property’s zoning change from residential to commercial in an effort to create more of a walkable community for our neighborhood. The opinion is that maintaining residential zoning on one corner of a busy arterial intersection does not make sense and would not be the best use of the space for the community. The point was made that City Light could get more money for their property if they rezoned it prior to selling it, and the neighborhood would be happy to see that change happen prior to the property changing hands.
There was also a request for the City to re-look at zoning along the entire stretch of Holden from 16th to 9th, as it seems haphazard in its delineation.
If you are interested in commenting on these properties, there is a public hearing coming up on October 2nd from 7pm to 9pm at High Point Community Center. I know it’s so hard to attend all these meetings- so you can make an official public comment online too. Please note that last night’s meeting was just a discussion and not considered a public hearing, so our comments need to be submitted formally. Please go to this website to submit your comments, you’ll see a link on the right side of the page that says “submit comments here.” You can also write to Sally Clark, our City Council president, while you’re at it!  They are the ones that will ultimately be signing off on this, so it is imperative that they know we have an opinion on the properties.
West Seattle has 6 properties total, and a coalition has formed peninsula wide that is trying to slow down these sales until it is known what is the best use of each property for the community. The “West Seattle Green Space Coalition” was present at our meeting asking for signatures on their petition to slow the process down.  While it doesn’t seem like “green space” is what is best for our community in regard to the 16th and Holden site especially, HPAC is supportive of the idea of slowing the process down to determine the best use of these properties for each community in question.
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Announcements and Notes from September HPAC meeting

Our Parks:

West Crest / West Seattle Reservoir Park will begin construction in late winter, scheduled to be finished by summer of 2014. There are still some decisions being made about re-using and moving the existing play equipment, and we will be informed when those decisions have been made.

We received a NPSF grant to address pedestrian safety along Cloverdale via a crushed rock stair and trail from 6th to the dog park parking lot at 5th. SDOT’s “Safe Routes to Schools” are considering the spot for a possible sidewalk from 7th to 5th. (The improvements at West Crest will include a sidewalk connection from 7th to 8th)

We also received an Opportunity Fund grant from Seattle Parks to address missing connections into Highland Park Playground/Spray Park east to Cloverdale/10th and north to Thistle. The schedule is still being determined for that project.

Green Seattle Day, a day to celebrate and restore Seattle’s urban forest, is on November 2nd, and West Crest Park is one of the sites for tree planting! October 5th is the day to help clean up the urban forest to get ready for the big day, from 9am – 1pm. More information is available on their website.

Highland Park Improvement Club:  The Club was recently awarded a King County grant (thanks to the efforts of Sustainable Seattle), to help de-pave part of the parking lot, install another raingarden, more planting, and a courtyard. If you are interested in participating, join us for a Greening Committee meeting on  October 2 at 7pm to discuss next steps.

Rainwise: if you have questions about RainWise and how to get a rebate for a rain garden and/or cistern for your property, attend a RainWise Workshop in South Park coming up on Thursday, October 17th, from 6:30-8pm at the South Park Community Center. More info available here.

Roadside Raingardens: Green Stormwater Infrastructure is coming to Highland Park! Areas for roadside gardens (not on your property like RainWise ones, but within the Right of Way along the street) are being studied in Highland Park. King County presented a plan with potential locations that will be online soon, so we’ll update our website when that happens.

Surplus City Light Properties: Info added  in this post.

September 25th HPAC meeting

The agenda is getting packed for our SEPTEMBER HPAC MEETING on the 25th at 7pm. We will have several guests: 
  • David Barber from Seattle City Light speaking about their two surplus properties in our neighborhood and seeking our input. More info on this website, addresses in question are 8820 9th ave SW (near 9th and Henderson)  and 1605 SW Holden (across from 7-11). With our input, we could help create some really positive transformations for Highland Park.
  • John Phillips and Kristine Cramer from the King County Wastewater Treatment Division are coming to discuss roadside rain gardens in the street right of way in Highland Park. 
  • Jo Sullivan from King County will be there again to give us an update on the success of Rainwise so far in Highland Park and answer any questions folks have about raingardens and qualifying for rebates. 
  • Seattle Parks department will be there to give us an update on Westcrest park improvements and to answer questions.
  • Kim Frappier from Forterra (Formerly Cascade Land Conservancy) will be sharing that Westcrest is participating in Green Seattle Day on November 2nd, come hear about that and ongoing forest restoration work in Highland Park.
  • Hannah Kett from Sustainable Seattle has some announcements about exciting changes coming to HPIC! 

Grants coming to life!

Check out the slideshow on West Seattle Herald and the blurb in West Seattle Blog for info about the new raingarden at HPIC- we’re in the middle of applying for more grants with Sustainable Seattle’s help, so stay tuned for some awesome changes coming to 12th and Holden!

We also have some great news about the Opportunity Fund. We applied for funds to create better access into the new spraypark at Highland Park Playground, and are on the list of finalists that are being passed on to the Mayor for final sign off! So, we’re looking forward to a Cloverdale/10th connection (which is also a pedestrian connection to Westcrest), and a path north to Thistle. Now not only will we have an awesome spraypark, we’ll actually be able to get there safely! It’ll take a while for it to happen, but it’s coming.

Grant Updates

We just found out today that two grants that we put forth for the Neighborhood Park and Street Fund have been selected to move on to the next round of review and feasibility studies! Final award recommendations won’t be made until August, so we’ll have to keep our fingers crossed until then- but this is a hopeful and necessary first step. One proposal is for improved pedestrian access to the new Spraypark under construction now at Highland Park Playground. We proposed better connections north to Thistle, and East to Cloverdale. The second proposal is for an improved pedestrian connection to the Dog Park at Westcrest along Cloverdale, bringing pedestrians into the park where the new sidewalk will end around 7th ave. From here, we proposed a trail or trail stair that leads down to the dogpark, bringing people off the street and blind hill which has been a safety concerns of neighbors there for years. Hopefully Parks will see the need for these two projects to be implemented- thank you for your continued support and ideas.

A third grant, through the Neighborhood Street Funds, was selected to move forward in January, and we won’t hear anything more about until July or August. This one is for traffic and pedestrian improvements at the Highland Park Drive / Holden intersection. The entire intersection is oversized and amorphous: it is difficult for drivers to see oncoming traffic coming up the hill, to see where cars are meant to travel, where people are meant to cross, and which way to look for traffic before pulling out onto Highland Park Drive. The Holden/Highland Park Drive intersection is a notoriously frustrating intersection for people commuting out of West Seattle. It is so frustrating for some, that they cut through the neighborhood in an effort to beat the line of backed up traffic. This cut through traffic is usually traveling way too fast on the residential streets. A signal to help traffic flow and define pedestrian crossings would solve the problem. However, this could be an opportunity to create an amazing sense of place and a great gateway for the Highland Park neighborhood if this were to become Seattle’s first roundabout intersection. We’ll update as soon as we know anything, a lot of you have been asking us about this!

Spring Clean

Here at HPAC, we try to help you help yourselves and your neighborhood- so we’re passing on this information about Seattle’s Spring Clean, which is held each year in April and May. The  city will supply things like garbage grabbers, gloves, bags, safety vests, and paint/supplies to take care of graffiti. All you have to do is get some neighbors together, pick a date, and sign up. We encourage you to take charge and set something up for your block or that little part of Highland Park that you think could use some love. As we hear specifics of time and place, we’ll publish Spring Clean events happening in Highland Park that other neighbors have set up so you can participate without leading an event. Sign up here, it’s easy- and let us know when/where your event is if you want us to include it here.

Westcrest Park Updates and Volunteer Opportunities

We heard from Rick Nishi of Seattle Parks at our last meeting with a current plan of Westcrest Park / West Seattle Reservoir. See the latest plan here. The Kinetic sculptures created by artist David Boyer will be installed in three locations on the site, represented by the clusters of red dots on the plan. The P-patch is currently under construction and could use more volunteers. There is a work party coming up this Saturday and next (March 2 and 9). Come help dig holes, prepare the ground, and plant for the native plants that will that will line the garden’s borders. 10am to 2pm, come for as long as you can. Contact Rhyan Haynie-Lavelle  •  rhyan.haynie-lavelle@seattle.gov  •  # 206-684-4531 for questions.