by Kirby Lindsay, posted 25 May 2013
New Board President, Stephanie Pure, set the agenda for the May meeting of the Fremont Neighborhood Council (FNC,) and sent it out a week beforehand. It was an uncommonly full agenda, even for an organization known for having many and varied interests among its members.
Impressively, the meeting, presided over by Pure, covered everything on the agenda – and a few items added by attendees. All the guests, a few Board Members, representatives from other organizations and concerned residents who attended to learn more, were able to speak – all in less than two hours.
Here are some of the highlights:
Linda Mitchell gave a brief update on the development at Stone Way and N 34th Street, called Stone34, being built by Skanska under a green building pilot program. “They’ve set really ambitious energy goals,” acknowledged Mitchell, and tenants will reuse almost all water onsite. During construction, Skanska will recycle 95% of all materials.
The finished building, Mitchell reported, will be a 5-story, mixed-use office/retail structure. A majority of the offices have already been leased to Brooks Sports for use by their 500+ employees, with some retail given over to a Brooks flagship store. Mitchell said occupancy is currently expected for fall/winter of 2014.
She also mentioned partnerships with B.F. Day Elementary School (teaching science classes about conservation and green building) and the Fremont Chamber of Commerce (installing a Hysterical Marker near the site on construction details.) To learn more, and get more updates, Mitchell recommended subscribing to the free e-newsletter sent out regularly about the construction, and/or watch the site web-cam.
Parking Changes for Downtown Fremont
Jonathan Dong, of the Seattle Department of Transportation, introduced a proposal to remove load zones and short term (30 minute) parking from Fremont Avenue N between N 34th & N 35th Streets to better accommodate METRO buses. Kendra Dedinsky, of METRO, explained that buses get backed up into traffic and the intersections at high-usage times. They need larger loading zones.
Discussion diverged onto the route #40 bus which Dedinsky reported as, “very popular.” It has added about 30% more service to the proposal area. A resident remarked, “I’m thinking about getting a t-shirt that says, ‘Route 40 is awesome!’” Also, FNC Board Member Toby Thaler mentioned that, as a cyclist, he would appreciate the removal of the parked vehicles from this area for his safety.
Approximately parking for three vehicles would be removed from the commercial zone. According to Dong, SDOT representatives have talked to the adjacent businesses and found other load zones for them, but SDOT wants input from the general population as well. Officially, the FNC represents residential concerns, and the parking to be removed is in the business district. When asked if he has spoken with the Chamber, Dong replied that he has sent out letters to those in the affected area asking for comment (to 206/233-8564) by May 3rd, and most responses were supportive. He then said that the changes will be made next month.
SPU Stormwater Management Proposals
Trish Rhay reported on a long-term plan called ‘Protecting Seattle’s Waterways’ about reduction of raw sewage and storm water overflows into the natural waterways of Seattle. Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) manages 87 outfalls around the city (5 in the Fremont area) that accounted for 355 overflows of 154 million gallons in 2012. This is all independent of King County, and the system of siphons that carry waste water to the treatment plants.
SPU has a system of pipes beneath the streets that collect sewage, down spout and storm drain water in a combined sewer system. During storms, the excess water collects in tanks, but severe overages of wastewater overflows into our waterways. SPU wants to find ways to lower the amount of overflows, and the long-term plan will examine alternatives including a partnership with King County, building larger tanks or creating tunnels (like the Fremont Siphon) that could channel more wastewater. Adjacent to this project, they also want to consider more ‘pollution reduction alternatives’ (permeable surfaces, street sweeping, rain gardens, etc.) that ultimately lessen the amount of down spout and storm water that enters the sewers.
A public meeting will be held with experts talking on the alternatives, and taking input on other solutions, June 3rd at Seattle City Hall in the Bertha K. Landes room from 4:30p – 6:30p. Also, find more information in an on-line video.
Concerns Over Development at 38th & Stone Way
Thaler spoke about on-going ‘disgruntlement’ about development of a five-story building of 281 residential units above nearly 10,000 square feet of commercial space and four live/work units, at 3801 Stone Way N. The project passed the Early Design Guidance process although, according to Thaler, the developer didn’t satisfy the requests of the Design/Review team. The developer has applied for a Master Use Permit and met with Thaler who voiced his objections to the design. “The process is broken,” Thaler stated. He thinks an appeal is an option but he will not lead one.
Pure asked if the FNC should invite someone to discuss this at a future meeting, and Thaler agreed that it might help for them to go see Seattle City Councilmember Richard Conlin. However, Thaler also stated that instances like this are the reason he supports District Elections for the City Council. He’d like to have a Councilmember with a vested interest in addressing disgruntlement among Fremont and Wallingford neighbors.
Ernst Park Expansion?
Past FNC President Matt Gasparich continued discussions with Seattle Parks & Recreation about developing the land adjacent to Ernst (Slippery Slope) Park, purchased by the City. Seattle Parks had leased part of the parcel to Chase Bank for staging use during their recent remodel. Gasparich discussed with Parks representatives a neighborhood idea to plant trees on the property – an urban forest. Gasparich said the reps were, “not very excited.”
They want a long-term plan – a grand vision for the next 100 years – but they did say they would make short-term improvements including a railing to protect passing pedestrians and an effort to discourage car camping (and drug dealing) on the site.
They tell Gasparich there is no funding for maintaining parks land, only acquisition. A new Parks Levy will go for vote in 2014, and the FNC Board agreed to advocate that the Levy include funds for maintenance.
Upcoming Mayor’s Walk
Jenny Frankl, of the Department of Neighborhoods, reported that on June 1st Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn will do a (short) walk of the neighborhood. She suggested FNC representatives talk with him about the park, the bus stop for the #40 route, or some other sight near History House, where the walk begins and ends.
The walk precedes a ceremony, at 11a, with the Mayor and members of the Chris Wedes family (emceed by Pat Cashman,) as Seattle’s favorite clown is memorialized. The City will give one block of N 34th St the honorary name of J.P. Patches Place. This free event is open-to-the-public.
Signal Box Art Coming This Summer!
Gasparich has also been pushed forward decorating signal boxes around Fremont with art by Urban ArtWorks. Signal boxes are magnets for vandalism and graffiti, and sit at every lighted intersection broadcasting a scruffy message of neglect. The FNC gave $1,000 towards getting a single signal box painted, but Urban ArtWorks has agreed to give a huge discount and do three.
In March, the FNC Board voted on which boxes to have painted. Winner of first choice was clearly the box at Fremont Avenue & N 36th St. Unfortunately, second choice yielded a three-way tie. Gasparich has generously agreed to use a donation from his company, so all four can get art!
At the May meeting, attendees discussed possible themes for the art. The membership agreed to ask the artist to look at Fremont, and come up with, “a unique interpretation of Fremont,” as one resident explained. Designs will be distributed by e-mail and on Facebook for review and approval. Prep work will begin June 4th. This summer, Fremont will get more art, thanks to the FNC and Urban ArtWorks!
The meeting continued with committee reports, a Treasurer’s report, and approval of minutes, but still wrapped up in less than two hours – a stunning achievement given the massive agenda.
See how Pure does it at the next FNC meeting. The monthly meeting are open-to-the-public and held on the fourth Monday of the month (except in May, due to Memorial Day,) at Doric Lodge #92, starting at 7p. Consider sitting in on the next meeting on June 24th, contributing to the discussion or simply hearing about more projects currently underway in Fremont.
- FNC Highlight Reel: Transportation Again, Plus
- by Kirby Lindsay, April 3, 2013
- Urban ArtWorks Converts A Signal Box Into An Art Canvas
- by Kirby Lindsay, June 20, 2012
- A Look Inside The Fremont Siphon
- by Kirby Lindsay, December 17, 2010
©2013 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.