Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn rode up on his bicycle to join a small group of community leaders in a walking tour of Crown Hill on Saturday afternoon. The mayor takes several walking tours of Seattle neighborhoods each year, but this one was a short commute — McGinn lives nearby in Greenwood.
During the walking tour, the mayor heard concerns about a lack of sidewalks, traffic on Holman Road and drug dealing at Baker Park, among other things.
The first stop was the playground at the old Crown Hill Elementary School at 13th Ave. and Holman Road, which will soon become Crown Hill Park. Community leaders from Crown Hill Neighborhood Association and Crown Hill Business Association expressed concerns about safe access to the park. Construction is slated to begin next year.
The group paused along the pedestrian overpass over Holman Road. “Although it’s a very important transportation asset, it’s dangerous to drive on and dangerous to cross,” said Ryan McFarland, the president of the CHNA. As if on cue, the mayor watched as a bicyclist perilously weaved through traffic (above). McFarland suggested that adding a planted median along the street “could make the turn lanes more clear, provide islands for pedestrians and dramatically improve the aesthetics of the neighborhood.”
Since Holman road isn’t due for repaving anytime soon, the mayor said it boils down to funding in a difficult economic time. He said he plans to propose a “significant increase” in the commercial parking tax — above and beyond the city council’s proposed increase — to pay for transportation projects like these. “Help me out here guys, when we go in front of council,” he said, adding that he’s asked SDOT to look at different solutions for different neighborhoods.
The mayor also heard about the lack of sidewalks on many Crown Hill streets. Earlier this year, community members applied for a Bridging the Gap grant for sidewalks in the area that spans NW 85th to NW 90th between 15th Ave NW and 20th Ave NW. But due to a lack of funding, the proposed project was slimmed down considerably. “Tell the council to approve my proposed tax increases for pedestrian improvements,” the mayor said.
The next stop was Baker Park along 14th Ave. between 85th and 83rd Streets. Catherine Weatbrook, with the Crown Hill Business Association, told the mayor that neighbors often complain about drinking and vagrancy. “You’re very lucky you’re here after all the rain in September because the smell has substantially decreased, because there are no bathrooms,” she said. “There are fairly active drug deals that happen along that street (pointing to Mary Ave.)”
“It’s just the activation and usage,” the mayor said after hearing the park is not popular. “Have you looked at — I’m just going to toss out an idea — a pea patch? It would get people here every day.” He said pea patches have worked elsewhere, even if they’re just a secondary component of the park. With Crown Hill Park opening soon nearby, “maybe that’s a viable thing,” Weatbrook said.
A neighbor raised concerns about drug deals a couple blocks away, at 15th Ave. and 87th St., often behind the Radio Shack building. “I see it happen all the time,” Jon said, adding that police don’t always respond. “We’ve got a lot of people calling about it.”
On 87th and 17th, the mayor was given this photo of flooding in a low area there — a frequent problem. The mayor promised to pass it along to Seattle Public Utilities to find out what’s going on. “We’ll get you a response,” he said. “At least we’ll let you know where we stand.” A staff member accompanying the mayor wrote down questions and complaints raised along the walk.
After the walk, Weatbrook said she felt it went well. “I think we have a lot of commonality in things we’re trying to do,” she said. “We have the hard realities of the budget, the economic situation, so we’ll have to work through it.”