by Kirby Lindsay, posted 31 March 2014
The March meeting of the Fremont Neighborhood Council (FNC) was all about walking, from a certain perspective. The perspective is held by Lisa Quinn, of Feet First, that, “transit is just an extension of a walking trip.” She gave her presentation after one on METRO transit, given by King County Councilmember Larry Phillips.
‘Move King County Now’?
The Councilmember spoke passionately to encourage FNC members to vote in favor of Proposition #1, called ‘Move King County Now,’ in the special election closing April 22nd. Prop #1 is meant to stave off 17% in cuts to METRO transit service around the county, including Fremont. Councilmember Phillips, who represents district #4 (which includes Fremont,) observed about the Prop #1 opposition, “they are a fairly shrill group. Listen at your peril.”
According to Councilmember Phillips, and the two METRO representatives (Marty Minkoff and Jack Whisner) in attendance, the agency has taken steps to work within its budget. They’ve cut staff, frozen raises, used a lean management model, and negotiated cost-cutting measures with the unions. They’ve also cut service, and increased fares for riders four times since 2007, with another increase planned for this year. “They’ve made twenty-four changes to efficiencies and productivity,” Councilmember Phillips observed. The County has also approached the State Legislature about funding, and while it isn’t off-the-table, the funds also haven’t been approved.
“We don’t have more we can do,” Councilmember Phillips insisted. If voters do not approve Prop #1, up to 17% in cuts will be made, and “they will affect 80% of the ridership,” he explained. Proposition #1 imposes two new taxes, for 10 years, which the Councilmember acknowledged as ‘regressive.’ One is a new $60 annual vehicle fee that includes a non-specific allowance for a low-income rebate of $20 (although how that rebate will be applied remains to be established.) The second is an increase to the sales tax of 0.1%.
Money raised by these two taxes would go to transportation. The 39 cities of King County, along with the unincorporated area, would divide 40% of the money to spend on its own transportation projects and improvements. The rest would go to fund METRO.
Without Prop #1, Fremont could see cuts to transit service. Whisner mentioned cuts to #26, and #28, route changes to #5, and #16, and the removal of route #31 (which means route #32 will be increased.) The very popular route #40 is new enough to be immune from cuts this round, but it also won’t get needed increases in frequency. An additional note was made that the RapidRide E Line running on Aurora Avenue will require the installation of a traffic signal for other vehicles on the on-ramp at Phinney Way.
The King County Council has agreed to this ballot measure by unanimous vote. As Councilmember Phillips observed, METRO had its second busiest month ever in October 2013. “We know we want more service, not less,” he said. The FNC Board obviously agreed, as they voted to endorse the ‘Move King County Now’ campaign, and a yes vote on Proposition #1.
Pedestrian Safety Among School Children
While not claiming any expertise on the current efforts of the FNC to see pedestrian improvements made to the intersection at Stone Way N & N 41st Street, Quinn talked about the non-profit, Feet First, and its efforts to raise awareness of pedestrian safety, particularly for school children. “When we make it safe for our most vulnerable population,” she explained, “we make it safer for everyone.”
The organization encourages walking, including for children going to school through its ‘Safe Routes To School’ program. This program includes initiatives such as a pedestrian safety curriculum and walk-to-school celebrations. It also helps with awareness of the ‘Walking School Bus’ program which helps match students with parents – or local, retired seniors – able to walk groups of neighbor children to school.
Feet First also has a ‘Neighborhood Walking Ambassador’ that leads walks around neighborhoods to raise awareness of safe, and interesting, routes around the community. The Fremont Ambassador has organized several popular walks around the Center of the Universe, and they can be found on MeetUp. The organization also performs walking audits to gather together residents and planning professionals to assess and improve walking conditions.
When asked about ways to make the Stone Way crossing safer, particularly for Hamilton Middle School students, Quinn mentioned crossing guards. Ultimately, she said, “there is no silver bullet. More like silver buckshot,” as the simultaneous use of education and engineering bring about change.
A Flurry Of Business Matters
The final moments of the FNC meeting were a flurry of business including a successful motion to replace the new treasurer, Jim Engelhardt, on the bank accounts, and discussion on a speaker (still undetermined) for the Annual General Meeting on April 28th.
Also, the FNC Board was asked (by yours truly) about how to address graffiti on the newly decorated signal boxes around the neighborhood. Two of the boxes so beautifully decorated by Kyler Martz, for Urban ArtWorks (funded by efforts of the FNC,) have been grievously marred. Matt Gasparich, who led the effort to get the boxes painted, encouraged Fremocentrist.com readers to call Urban ArtWorks about graffiti since the project included maintenance by the non-profit for the first year.
To find out more about the FNC, to meet the incoming board and to find out more about its business, attend the next meeting at Doric Lodge #92 at 7p on April 28th. Since this will be the annual meeting of the residential advocacy group, expect to find refreshments – and a special guest speaker. Most importantly, help the FNC speak on behalf of Fremonsters by sharing your voice!
- FNC Highlight Reel: Road Angst
- by Kirby Lindsay, February 26, 2014
- Urban ArtWorks Converts A Signal Box Into An Art Canvas
- by Kirby Lindsay, June 20, 2012
©2014 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.