All About Groundwork
by Kirby Lindsay
A neighborhood can operate, with every resident, business and visitor working independently. A community takes people gathering together through organizations like the Fremont Neighborhood Council (FNC), where they monitor, advise and act on matters of neighborhood. At the FNC monthly meeting on May 24, the information distributed, discussed and, sometimes, debated demonstrated the value of gathering.
Information Brought In
First came Greg Phipps, Broch Bender and Sherry Weber, as representatives of the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), who shared information on the imminent installation of a safety fence on the George Washington Memorial Bridge, also known as Aurora. Due to multiple unforeseen circumstances (including a trademark issue) construction had been delayed, but will now be done from 9p to 5a on Sunday through Thursday nights.
WSDOT has given serious attention to noise mitigation. Drilling will begin in mid-June, and be done – as will every phase of construction – beginning at the northwest corner of the bridge (southbound) and progress down the span to the southwest corner where workers will switch to the east side (northbound) and work south to north.
Phipps said WSDOT still expects the installation to be complete by the end of 2010. The all steel fence will be painted a color in-line with that of the bridge. At a question on environmental protections, Phipps described the platforms – with walls – on which workers will stand, using tools on lanyards, hard hats with chin straps and encased drills that capture their own cast-off, and dampen noise.
From there, Mike Nielsen, Director of Special Projects for Community Psychiatric Clinic, directed our attention to the Keystone Campus, managed by CPC since 1978. The campus contains three buildings – Keystone Building (with 64 residents), Coach House (8 residents) and Albion Place (a 12-unit apartment building) – for low-income, special needs people. They stand on a block between Woodland Park Avenue North and Albion Way, and North 36th and 35th Streets.
Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) currently owns this property, as well as the Keystone and Coach House structures. A 2005 remodel transferred ownership of Albion Place to CPC. Nielsen came to let the FNC know about a possible transfer of ownership being worked out from the SHA to CPC. This could streamline administration, and create more effective funding for programs. Nielsen wanted to let FNC leadership know of the proposal, with the hope that they might write letters of support if this transaction requires action by the Seattle City Council.
Information From Within Ranks
The FNC Board approved their minutes from the March & April meetings, and gave permission for the posting of the agenda from the April 2009 meeting in place of the missing minutes. Discussion then covered the FNC booth at the Fremont Street Fair, an impressive turnout for the recent street clean-up, the Treasurer’s report and the recent Fremont Chamber of Commerce meeting on parking.
As the Land Use report, chairperson Toby Thaler spoke on a current rezone being done by the City of Seattle Department of Planning & Development (DPD) on Low Rise zones. Thaler, along with 12 other private citizens, the Seattle Community Council Federation and the Seattle Displacement Coalition, have filed an appeal that questions the DPD determination that the rezone will not have a significant adverse impact.
Low Rise Zones cover areas that already allow construction of – or already contain – multi-family buildings, including townhouses, condos and/or apartments. According to Thaler, the proposed zoning changes will eliminate the LDT designation that once protected already existing structures in Fremont. Changes also include consideration of new development in face of density, institution of new design standards and elimination of parking requirements. The appeal, however, questions the impact of these changes, and inadequate study by those impacts by the DPD.
At the very end of the meeting, Tim Durkan, Coordinator for the Department of Neighborhood’s Service Center in Fremont, passed on a request by the City Fleets & Facilities office for a meeting to discuss the proposed remodel of Fire Station #9 with those opposed to current plans. Previous requests by the City for a meeting have not been answered. FNC President Norma Jones asked that another effort be made to meet.
That very briefly details some of what can happen during a community meeting. To get all the information – and to give input – attend a meeting in person. The next FNC meeting (held on the 4th Monday of each month except December) will be June 28 at 7p.m. at History House (790 N 34th). Come hear for yourself!
©2010 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.