by Kirby LindsayOn Sunday, February 27th, Mayor Mike McGinn came to Fremont, to walk a segment of the business district, and take questions, informally, from a small group of citizens. Fremonsters always have plenty to show and tell, yet no critical issue dominated the agenda - of attendees or the Mayor.
When asked, Allison Burson, an aide to the Mayor, explained that they had come because, “we hadn’t been here yet,” either specifically to this neighborhood, or to this general area. According to Tim Durkan, of the City of Seattle Department of Neighborhoods, the Mayor plans to visit 50 neighborhoods this year.
On The Walk
Except for the weather, the visit apparently proceeded smoothly – and included local chocolate, Girl Scout cookies and Greek desserts. Participants, of the walk and at the talk, represented a broad spectrum of community interests. The Mayor appeared to listen to all who spoke to him, and asked many questions.
The initial group met at Theo Chocolate, where CEO Joe Whinney gave a very abbreviated tour that, nonetheless, included samples. Mayor McGinn asked about the company’s continued growth, the qualities of people they hire, and how Whinney interacts with other CEOs. Whinney emphasized the “foody aura” of Seattle, the industrial nature of his business, and the need to support tourism.
On the way through the Fremont Sunday Market, the Mayor heard about the Lake Washington Ship Canal, and a dream of regulations changes that would allow boat tie-ups. The Mayor commented on the lack of locations in Seattle for hand-launching a boat.
The conversation turned to parking as the group reached the Red Door, and owner Pete Hanning pointed out the parking kiosks that, he said, have lost him customers. Several people spoke on general parking matters, including the RPZ and the sometimes over-zealous enforcement by Seattle Police Department (SPD) officers.
The group, now grown to about 20 people, strolled through PCC Natural Market – and spotted Store Manager Raymond Glandon bagging groceries. He joined us as we stopped at the doors to chat with two Girl Scouts selling cookies. The tour then strolled on to Costas Opa, where the Mayor stepped into the kitchen to meet the owner, Costa Antonopoulos. When asked by the Mayor how business is doing, Antonopoulos remarked that it could be better.
The tour detoured from there up to 35th Street to admire property Seattle Parks & Recreation recently acquired, next to Ernst (Slippery Slope) Park. The Mayor asked about design plans, and heard several opinions. The tour terminated at History House, after a moment taken to admire the section of the Berlin Wall on display in the sculpture garden. “That’s astounding,” Mayor McGinn commented.
At The Talk
The originally group had grown, but the ‘small, informal Q & A’ truly had a capacity crowd with every seat filled. A wide spectrum of community members asked questions and made comments on a gamut of topics. Throughout, attendees listened quietly to one another, and the answers given by the Mayor. He tended to answer requests or concerns with a suggestion of follow-up by his aides.
The session, which went on for an hour, began with comments by the Mayor. “We have great neighborhoods,” he said of Seattle, and described Fremont as one that everyone looks to. He praised the quality of life here, and mentioned that “Fremont appears to have something special.” He did admit, however, that he isn’t yet willing to accept our claims to being the center of the universe.
When given the floor, attendees respectfully addressed several issues including education, the Burke-Gilman Trail missing link, the Shoreline Master Plan and SPD. Comments were made on parking, and the safety of parking, plus the public process, or lack thereof, by some City Departments, as well as a question about conducting performance reviews of City employee and departments.
Distinctly local matters included a request by Barb Luecke, on behalf of the Fremont Arts Council, for assistance finding a replacement outdoor storage space. Phil Megenhardt, of Bold Hat Productions, voiced concern over increases in fees for public events, and making organizers responsible for funding police protection. Near the end of the talk, concern was voiced, twice, on the need to consider the issues of Upper Fremont, when looking at this community.
The Mayor, having extended his stay longer than originally scheduled, departed while two aides stayed to gather info on specific issues. It is to be hoped that progress was made overall, both on educating the Mayor about Fremont and getting some answers for our citizens. While no particular crisis brought him, it is to be hoped that this exchange will further keep crisis at bay.
- A Closer Look: Mayor Visits A Noisy Yet Sweet Fremont
- by Kirby Lindsay, June 14, 2006 in the North Seattle Herald-Outlook
©2011 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.