In Search of a New Life for Building 2 at Magnuson

What is the future of Magnuson Park’s most historic building?  Building 2 is the oldest building (1929) still extant in the former Sand Point Naval Air Station complex.  Called the Assembly & Repair Shop, Building 2 was constructed as a place to overhaul plane engines.  Original steel and glass doors are intact for the entire building, as well as large industrial windows along the sides of the hangars.  Massive concrete towers stand for receiving the sliding hangar doors.

A Request for Proposals (RFP) has been issued for development and renovation of Building 2.  Proposals should include the management and operation of recreation, arts and cultural or environmental programming that will be open to the public.  The Seattle Parks & Recreation Dept. (SPR) does not have designated funding for this redevelopment, and as a result proposals should include a funding plan.

Through this, SPR is seeking a proposer(s) able to make a significant capital investment in exchange for a long-term agreement. This agreement will be in the form of a lease or concession agreement under which the successful proposer(s) will redevelop, operate and manage Building 2 and its facilities for the approved use(s) and programming for a term that is commensurate with the financial commitment made by the proposer.

SPR is encouraging interested groups which may not have the financial ability to develop the entire building to work in partnership with other groups, and develop a comprehensive proposal, which includes overall project funding, design and management.

Wedgwood in 2016: Looking Ahead

The Wedgwood Community Council applied for grant funding to create the Picnic Place at 8605 35th Ave NE, a usable public space in the interim while we wait for more park development funding.

Some people think that the City of Seattle just automatically “does things” that need to be done out in the neighborhoods.  Actually, it is neighborhood advocates who call attention to the needs, and in 2015 the Wedgwood Community Council was very active in interaction with City of Seattle departments such as the Parks Dept. and the process of land use and zoning.  In the year 2016, with continued persistent efforts by community volunteers, we hope to see fulfillment of some projects which have been in the works for Wedgwood for quite a long time.

When Will the New Wedgwood Park be Built?

In 2014 Seattle voters passed Proposition 1 (Parks for All).  Funding was included to develop “land-banked” sites, and this funding will eventually be used for a pocket park at 8605 35th Ave NE in Wedgwood.  We will not see this park completed in 2016, however, due to the slow process of “waiting in line” for the funding.

In 2015 the Wedgwood Community Council (WCC) applied for and received a Department of Neighborhoods grant to create a Picnic Place for interim use at the site, and the WCC also worked with the Parks Department to get a food truck there.  If you would like to be involved in the park development process, please do contact the Wedgwood Community Council trustees.  More volunteers are always needed and welcome.

Will Wedgwood’s Street and Traffic Issues Ever Get Fixed?

In November 2015 Seattle voters passed the Transportation Levy.  The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) has identified projects in Wedgwood which can now be worked on using the money from this levy.  In 2016 we hope to see improvements such as new left-turn lanes from 35th Ave NE onto NE 75th Street for east-west travel.  Stay tuned for notice of community meetings in the year 2016 as SDOT prepares to start some roadwork.  There will be opportunity for citizen input at public meetings.

What Will be the Results of the Future of 35th Ave NE Plan?

Wedgwood does not have adequate commercial zoning regulations to prevent big ugly buildings like this one at 7321-27 35th Ave NE.

In 2015 Wedgwood and nearby neighborhoods coordinated and completed several years of work on a plan called the Future of 35th Ave NE. The plan was submitted to Seattle’s Office of Planning and Community Development to create zoning so that any new commercial buildings along 35th Ave NE will have ground-floor retail and the buildings will be pedestrian-friendly.  Here is the update page for the plan.

We have seen that without street-friendly zoning, old buildings can potentially be torn down and tall commercial buildings with blank walls can be built, as has happened at 7321 35th Ave NE.  The Future of 35th Ave NE Project has presented a plan to put zoning in place to create retail districts which are lively and walkable along the arterial business street.

With the pedestrian-zoning as requested by the Future of 35th Ave NE Plan, any new buildings at the major commercial intersections along 35th Ave NE such as at NE 75th and NE 85th Streets, would have to have retail storefronts and a “walkable” environment with sidewalks and a building canopy.

The process of getting what we want on 35th Avenue NE is on hold while we wait for City Council to finish approval of the Comprehensive Plan (city-wide).  If City Council approves changes to the Future Land Use Map of Seattle, which is a component of the City’s proposed Comprehensive Plan, then we can work on changes to zoning of buildings at the major intersections along 35th Ave NE in Wedgwood.

It is anticipated that City Council will vote on the Comprehensive Plan in 2016.  Stay tuned for more info.  In the coming year of 2016 you are invited to join in with the activism of the Wedgwood Community Council in promoting the best interests of the neighborhood.

Kay Gordon, Wedgwood Hero

At the November 4, 2015 Wedgwood Community Council meeting, a tireless volunteer, Kay Gordon, was given the Hero of Wedgwood Award in recognition of her contribution to the betterment of the neighborhood.  Kay Gordon is the founding member of the Wedgwood Garden Group and she loves working with and educating folks about plants.

For the last two years, Kay has organized a plant sale to support Wedgwood’s future park, the former Morningside Electrical Substation site on 35th Ave NE at the corner of NE 86th Street.  Now known as Morningside or the Picnic Place, the site is owned by the City of Seattle Parks Department.  Wedgwood is waiting for park-site development to be implemented.

Kay worked tirelessly on the plant sales in 2014-2015 and was instrumental in collecting $700 for the park last year and $2000 this year.  She doesn’t ask for personal recognition but rather supports the neighborhood.  Kay Gordon, we salute you:  you are our 2015 Wedgwood Hero!

Meet the Parks Superintendent

Seattle Parks Supt. Jesus Aguirre

In February 2015 former Washington, DC Parks and Recreation chief Jesus Aguirre was nominated to be the new superintendent at Seattle Parks and Recreation.  In recent months the new superintendent has been on a tour of Seattle’s community centers, and November is the month for northeast Seattle.

You can meet Superintendent Aguirre on Tuesday, November 3rd from 6:30 to 8 PM at the Meadowbrook Community Center, 10517 35th Ave NE. Bring your experience, interest and concerns about Seattle’s Parks and Recreation program to discuss at the November 3rd session.

Other upcoming meetings will be on Saturday, November 14th from 1 to 2:30 PM at the Ravenna-Eckstein Community Center, and Thursday, November 19th from 6:30 to 8 PM at Magnuson/Building 30.

Here is more info about the Superintendent’s Listening Tour.   The public is encouraged to send in questions ahead of meeting with Superintendent Aguirre by tweeting at hashtag #ParkRecSupe and you can also take a survey to give the superintendent info on public perceptions of Seattle’s Parks and Recreation programs.

Scarecrow Mini-Fest at Magnuson

The Magnuson Community Center will have a fall festival of scarecrows on Saturday, September 26 from 11 to 2 at the Children’s Garden, 6344 NE 74th Street.  There will be music, a petting zoo and other children’s activities.

Bring old clothes for your scarecrow to wear, a pillowcase to make its head, and $15 activity fee.  Admission to the Mini-fest is free; there will be food and beverages for sale at this event.

A Walk in Wedgwood with Mayor Murray

Mayor Ed Murray was welcomed to Wedgwood by Brianna McDonald, president of the Wedgwood Community Council (at left), Dass Adams, community council volunteer (in hat) and Jennifer Stormont of the Future of 35th Ave NE committee.

On Tuesday, August 18, 2015, Mayor Murray of Seattle took a tour of Wedgwood’s commercial intersections along 35th Ave NE to look at issues of building use, pedestrian accessibility, traffic flow and the changes to city zoning requirements which could make for a more shop-able and walkable Wedgwood.

The process of deciding how we can build the future of Wedgwood began with a wake-up call, the “Condo Controversy.”  At a Wedgwood Community Council meeting in 2007, neighbors presented their concerns about a new building to be built at 8606 35th Ave NE.

A former grocery store at 8606 35th Ave NE had, since 1989, been used as the Jewish Community Center (JCC).  By 2007 the JCC was in process of moving out.  The building owner had sold the site to a developer who planned to build a four-story condo building.  We called it the “Condo Controversy” because at that time, even community activists in the Wedgwood Community Council were caught unawares — was it really legal for a four-story building to be built along 35th Ave NE in Wedgwood?

Mayor Ed Murray heard about Wedgwood's Future of 35th Ave NE Project from co-chairs Mary Beth O'Neill (left) and Jennifer Stormont.

The community got a chance to catch its breath when the condo project went “on hold” during the economic downturn of 2008-2009.  The Wedgwood Community Council then formed an initiative to take action on land use issues.  In 2009 a committee was formed to apply for grant funding through the City of Seattle’s Department of Neighborhoods to create a Vision Plan for Wedgwood, completed in 2010.  This plan was in part a survey of how Wedgwoodians see the commercial district evolving and what services, street and land use planning issues are of concern.

The stalled condo project was sold to a different developer who built apartments instead, but using the same floor plans.  The Jasper Apartment building which opened in 2012 was a disappointment to the neighborhood because of the lack of storefronts and street-level interest for pedestrians.  At the street level, the Jasper does not have the built-in space for the venting and mechanical equipment needed by restaurants and coffee shops, so no shops like that will ever be put in.

Building on the Vision Plan and our frustration with our inability to influence the Jasper Apartment project, the next step was to form an alliance with nearby neighborhoods Ravenna-Bryant and Hawthorne Hills to advocate for needed improvements at the commercial intersections along 35th Ave NE.  This process, called the Future of 35th Ave NE Project, held meetings through 2014 and culminated in recommendations which have been presented to the City of Seattle.

Dongho Chang of Seattle Department of Transportation and Mayor Ed Murray discussed traffic and pedestrian issues in Wedgwood.

In 2015 the Future of 35th Ave NE committee representatives have met with members of Seattle City Council to request rezoning of the commercial intersections of 65th, 75th, 85th and 95th along 35th Ave NE, so that controls can be put in place for better buildings.  As buildings age and are replaced at these intersections, zoning can help bring in pedestrian-friendly streetscape in new buildings with storefronts, protected canopy over the sidewalks, and safer driveways into the buildings.

Stay tuned for more reports on the Future of 35th Ave NE process.  After a well-attended meeting on June 24, Seattle’s Department of Planning and Development has been taking input and implementing what rezoning could do to insure a walkable, shop-able environment along 35th Ave NE.

Getting more of what we want in Wedgwood’s business district, such as coffee shops, restaurants and small locally-owned businesses, can be helped by rezoning for the kind of buildings that are built in the future of Wedgwood.

In his visit to Wedgwood on August 18, Mayor Ed Murray indicated that Wedgwood could become the model for other neighborhoods in laying a good foundation of community input and planning, and in ensuring that future commercial development projects serve the needs of our neighborhood.

Other participants in the Walk in Wedgwood on August 18 were Ryan Moore of Dept. of Planning and Development (at left) and Chip Nevins of the Parks Dept. (at right.)

Mayor Murray stopped at many points along Wedgwood's commercial district to discuss traffic, zoning and businesses.

Clean-up at Hunter’s

It has been a summer of community action and clean-up in Wedgwood as groups of volunteers have undertaken needed improvements.

Weed-whacking volunteer Tony Frego is a Wedgwood Community Council trustee.

Volunteers from the Wedgwood Community Council and OneLife Church contacted the City of Seattle for needed graffiti removal at Wedgwood’s Future Park, corner of NE 86th Street.  Then the volunteers held a work party on June 27th to create a Picnic Place.

On May 31st Wedgwood’s Scout Troop 166 cut back tree branches and shrubbery along the sidewalk on 35th Ave NE from NE 80th to 81st, including the plantings around the Gateposts of Wedgwood.

The most recent clean-up work was coordinated by Sustainable NE Seattle at the Gathering Place at the Hunter Tree Farm, 7744 35th Ave NE, on July 9th, 2015.  This site was first created in 2011 with permission from the Hunter family, to make a usable space for summer activities.

The Gathering Place site can be reserved for birthday parties, summer picnics, etc. by registering with the SusNE site coordinators.  The next public event to be held at the Gathering Place will be Wedgwood Community Council’s Outdoor Cinema on July 25, 2015.

Our thanks to Brooke Richardson for these July 9th work party photos, and thanks to the volunteers of Sustainable NE Seattle and the Wedgwood Community Council.

Grass-cutting and stage repair was done by volunteers at a work party for The Gathering Place at Hunter Tree Farm on July 9, 2015.

Summer Nights 2015: Outdoor Movies at Magnuson

The Summer 2015 schedule of Outdoor Movies at Magnuson Park features big screen flicks, entertainment, trivia and food trucks.

The Outdoor Movies will be held rain or shine, weekly on Thursday evenings from July 9 to August 27, 2015.

Event entry opens at 7 PM for the first six events and 6:30 PM for the last two.

Prizes provided by: Pagliacci PizzaSchwartz Brothers RestaurantsWhole Foods in Roosevelt Square.

PEMCO Seat Upgrade: At each event a lucky winner and their crew will win the PEMCO Seat Upgrade and be treated to an awesome package of treats just in time for the movie!

Cost: Event entry is $5 per person, at the event, for live entertainment, food trucks, vendors, activities and prize raffles. Five and under is free.

Parking: Parking is free. There is a lot to the north of the athletic fields and one to the southeast.  There is limited parking to the west of the athletic fields.

What to Bring: Low back lawn chairs or blankets, friends, family, dogs and money for fun and food.

Times: Seating opens at 7 PM for the first six events and 6:30 PM for the last two. Entertainment and trivia times vary. Movies show at dusk.

Food Trucks: Seattle’s best food trucks will sell hot food,  snacks, kettle corn, sweet treats, ice cream and more.   Come hungry and get your grub on before the movie.  Outside food and non-alcoholic beverages are permitted.

Live Acts: TBA

Trivia: Movie trivia gets you thinking before each film and offers the chance to win great prizes.

Dog Friendly: Well behaved dogs and owners are always welcome.

Location / Directions: The entrance to the Seattle’s Magnuson Park is at 7400 Sand Point Way NE -or- NE 65th St. and Sand Point Way NE.  The outdoor cinema takes place in the grass athletic fields with lots of room for blankets, chairs and comfortable viewing.

Rain or Shine: All of the outdoor movies at Magnuson are rain or shine.

Wedgwood’s Picnic Place

Wedgwood Community Council President Brianna McDonald had a helper at the Work Party.

While we wait for park development to begin, the Wedgwood Community Council has taken initiative to make Wedgwood’s Future Park into a usable space.  On Saturday, June 27, volunteers from the Wedgwood Community Council and OneLife Church put their backs into it to create a picnic area at the corner of NE 86th Street.

Wedgwood Community Council trustee Gordon Dass Adams submitted the application for a neighborhood matching grant to Seattle’s Department of Neighborhoods, for this picnic area in the center of the Future Park.  Now when the food truck is on-site (Tuesday through Saturday evenings) people can use the space to sit and eat.

Our thanks to the volunteers from Wedgwood Community Council and OneLife Church. Despite the prospect of sore backs, arms, and shoulders from shoveling wood chips and hoisting picnic tables into place, all the volunteers can have the satisfaction of knowing that they helped to build our community.

Picnic tables are now in place at Wedgwood's Future Park.

Wedgwood Community Council trustee Tony Frego coordinated the supplies needed for the Work Party.

Pastor Rich Sclafani of OneLife Church arranged to obtain picnic tables and bring them to the site.

Wedgwood Community Council Gordon Dass Adams wrote the application to grant funding for the Picnic Place.

Wedgwood Community Council volunteer Peter Zimmerman gets into shoveling.

Weed removal and general clean-up was done by volunteers including Wedgwood Community Council trustee Gretchen Bear.

A Summer of Practical Action

The Gathering Place at Hunter Tree Farm was created by a grant-funded project in 2011.

The Hunter Tree Farm Gathering Place (HFGP) at 7744 35th Ave NE is a usable public space created in cooperation with the site owners, the Hunter family.  The HFGP needs its summer sprucing up!  Make your summer a time of practical action at  the work party at Hunter’s on Thursday evening, July 9th, from 6:30 to 9 PM.

We will meet to weed, mow, fix, and the likes, to get the HFGP ready to be used for the community’s summer events, like the Wedgwood Outdoor Cinema coming up on July 25th.

Bring your work gloves and any tools you might use for yard work.  Building skills are sought for stage repair.

The work party will be hosted by Sustainable Northeast Seattle.  Take a look at the other Summer of Practical Action events such as a Rainwise workshop and a night of Wedgwood Meaningful Movies.