Echoing the discussion of the Ballard community, the Ballard Chamber of Commerce has voiced its concerns to the city this week regarding the announcement of transitional encampments on city-owned properties. MyBallard reported on the controversial announcement last Tuesday, receiving a long thread of reader comments.
The commerce believes the Ballard community has a strong sense of civic duty and understands well that all Seattle residents should support their neighbors most in need. However, there has been great frustration expressed concerning the lack of public communication and partnership prior to the selection of the central Ballard site, according to Executive Director Mike Stewart.
One of the neighboring communities to the proposed site, Ballard Eagleson VFW hall, was surprised they were not notified.
“No one from the city ever came to talk to us,” says post-commander of VFW Aaron Stoltz. He says that some of VFW’s members are shaken up by this decision and he believes it may affect his elderly members’ abilities to attend meetings peacefully.
Businesses like the KISS cafe, located across the street from the proposed site, are upset by the decision. KISS cafe Co-owner Oakley Carlson says: “If [Mayor] Murray and the city planners don’t understand that this will be extremely detrimental to the hard-working small businesses, it would remain consistent with their mindset that having a homeless encampment across the street from a major tourist destination, and right next to a liquor store [and three bars] is good for the city as a whole.”
The Sloop Tavern posted a similar response in the form of a notice to customers on the front of their establishment.
Residents have taken to heated commentary on MyBallard threads and others including the forum Nextdoor Ballard regarding the location choice.
Among the most positive opinions, resident Jason Alberts writes on Nextdoor: “Support like this for the growing homeless population is needed and important. The choice of this Ballard location is a bit of a surprise, though.” He comments that, in contrast, the Interbay location makes sense.
The Ballard Chamber hopes to identify a more suitable location than the current preferred site at 2826 NW Market Street.
Among their efforts this last week, the commerce has sent a joint letter to Mayor Murray, in conjunction with the Ballard Partnership for Smart Growth, the Central Ballard Residents Association and the North Seattle Industrial Association. Read the open letter here, which voices concern that the site selection process to date has been unacceptable, and demands an appropriate public process.
Members have also secured a meeting with the Mayor’s office and key leaders at the Department of Planning and Development, the Department of Neighborhoods, and the Human Services Department. They plan to recommend a city-sponsored community meeting in Ballard.
“We have a commitment from City officials to conduct a community meeting on this matter in the very near future,” says Stewart.