Community meeting planned to discuss Webster School renovation

A group of Ballard residents are hosting a meeting to discuss concerns over Seattle School District’s plans to renovate and reopen Webster School (currently the Nordic Heritage Museum) starting in 2018. The meeting is Tuesday, August 29 from 6 to 7:30 pm at the Nordic Heritage Museum, 3014 NW 67th St.

According to Seattle Public Schools (SPS), Webster School was originally constructed in 1908. It was closed in 1979, when it was then leased to the Pacific Nordic Council. Since 1980, the building has housed the Nordic Heritage Museum. However, because the museum will be moved to its new location in early 2018, SPS wants to reopen Webster School in the building.

SPS proposes to reopen the school with a capacity of up to 450 students. Plans include updating the building and retrofitting the interior, and constructing a building addition to house a new gymnasium.

According to SPS, the project will include:

  • Demolition
  • Seismic improvement to the original unreinforced masonry 1908 building;
  • An addition of 7,700 square feet on the west side of the property housing a new gymnasium and covered play area;
  • Structural, mechanical, electrical, data/telecom, modernization/upgrades; and
    Life safety and sustainability upgrades.
  • Portions of the building’s exterior and interior were designated as a Seattle Landmark by the City of Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board in June 2015. Features to be preserved include the site, the exteriors of the 1908 building and 1930 addition, the 1930 meeting room/auditorium, the 1930 library reading rooms, and the halls and stairs of the second and third floors in the 1908 building.

Tuesday’s meeting will be hosted by local school activist Chris Jackins with Seattle Committee to Save Schools. His concerns, outlined in a letter to residents, include the following:

  • City zoning code would not be met: lot coverage, building height (17% taller), on-street bus loading.
  • Loss of 69% of significant trees, and endangering an exceptional tree: Chinese photinia at SE corner.
  • Loss of playground space and open space: at least 11% of the playground would be lost, and probably twice that amount.
  • Loss of on-site parking: the current 67 on-site spaces would be reduced to 5.
  • Historic and Cultural Preservation: the covered play area should not be demolished. The School Board has requested that the State exempt the Seattle School Disctrict from City Landmarks regulation, putting historic features at risk.

Jackins is also concerned about the plan to construct new buildings on the playground, and points out that there is an inadequate description of the project from the Seattle School District. (For the full document of the concerns, download this PDF of the letter from Jackins, sent to us by reader Amy Janas)

Public comments and concerns about the plans are due by 5pm on September 7 and should be sent to SEPAcomments@seattleschools.org or to Pegi McEvoy, pmcevoy@seattleschools.org. 206-252-0707.

Photo courtesy Nordic Heritage Museum 

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