by Kirby Lindsay, posted 4 December 2013
The Fremont Chamber of Commerce often serves as the public face of the community, by default. The general public often identifies Fremont by its businesses, and these businesses will refer general community questions and requests to our very active and involved Chamber of Commerce.
As a result, perhaps, the November Fremont Chamber Board meeting, while powering through a packed agenda, also handled concerns regarding outside (non-Fremont-based) influences on our community.
Fremont Chamber Executive Director Jessica Vets gave a monthly report, including the information that the organization has 270 paid members. She also reported about her use of her time in November, and that communications takes a significant amount. “There is world-wide interest in Fremont,” she reported, about messages of interest she’s taken from people in Singapore, and U.S. documentarians wanting to film here on the Shop Small campaign.
The annual Fremont Chamber Board Retreat has been postponed until January, and Vets asked that they consider hiring more office help. She also gave an update on the organizing she has done for the second annual Cheers To Chambers event, coming in February to the Fremont Studios, which will involve the Ballard, Queen Anne, Wallingford and Phinney-wood Chambers.
Presidents & Pot
With Phil Megenhardt, of Bold Hat Productions, throwing his hat in the ring to run for Chamber President in 2014, the monthly discussion about major events started with Marko Tubic, Chamber Vice-President for Membership. Tubic has agreed to chair the Events Committee to give Megenhardt distance, and the organization another perspective, on this high-profile topic.
Megenhardt produces the Fremont Fair for the Chamber, and he brought up the first-ever ‘Pot Garden’ being hosted at Seattle Center on December 6th. Fair attendees may expect to see this in Fremont in June 2014, so Chamber Board Members discussed the many concerns – liability, insurance, permits, staffing, patrolling, etc. The final question raised was – how does a ‘pot garden’ pay for itself? At the beer gardens, the Chamber sells beer. Would a pot garden be selling marijuana?
The longest discussion of the Chamber Board concerned letters written by the Fremont Neighborhood Council (FNC) and the Wallingford Community Council (two residential representative organizations) requesting a pedestrian-activated traffic light on Stone Way at N 41st St. The letters, written to the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT,) highlight the use of this crossing by Hamilton Middle School students and their families, and reference the severe injuries suffered by one student in 2005 when he crossed at this intersection.
The letter from the FNC asks for ‘permanent improvements’ to this crosswalk. It also mentions the response a Fremont resident received from SDOT when she asked for improvements. She was directed to apply for funds, although they would not be available to make improvements until 2015. The FNC letter firmly requests an immediate review of the safety of this crosswalk.
The Fremont Chamber Board discussed the changes already made to Stone Way, many specifically done to improve pedestrian conditions. They also discussed the traffic signal, and pedestrian crossings, at N 40th St. The Board debated writing a letter to request a study by SDOT to find a safe way for the students to cross Stone Way. Ultimately, the Board agreed to support a study, and the residential concerns, although not to go as far a endorsing another traffic light on Stone Way, one block north of an existing one.
The Dream Of Districts?
In November, voters approved Charter Amendment 19, and the Chamber Board voted to honor Fremonsters, and others, who worked hard to get this issue onto the ballot. As a result, in 2015, the entire Seattle City Council will be up for election – with seven seats being elected from districts including District #6 (Fremont/Ballard.)
Board Members, particularly those who deal with our elected officials, voiced opinions on the changes this has had and will have for Seattle politics, and for Fremont. Some enjoy the idea of people we know, from this area, running for the District #6 seat, and being ‘regular folk.’ Someone has quoted a current City Councilmember as saying, “this means just anyone could be elected!” The Fremont Chamber Board agreed that would be a most excellent development. Some hope to see a ‘District Office’ established where citizens could meet with ‘our’ Council member when they need help.
Reportedly, current Councilmembers have already begun discussing who among them will run for which seat, and where. Board Members made comments about the shake-up Charter Amendment 19 has given the current Council, and mused on whether it will stir any to action – particularly to being more responsive, representative and local.
At its November meeting, its last of this year, the Fremont Chamber showed its interest in being representative. To find out more about the work of this organization, attend the next Board meeting on January 29th, at 8a at History House. All are welcome!
- FCC Highlight Reel: Creating Opportunities
- by Kirby Lindsay, November 8, 2013
- Shop Small In Fremont
- by Kirby Lindsay, November 23, 2012
- What Is Charter Amendment 19?
- by Kirby Lindsay, October 21, 2013
©2013 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.