At the end of 2012, we asked you a couple questions: What are your priorities for 2013 and what was your favorite Wedgwood event of 2012? The poll, which was open for over a month, gave us some great direction and reaffirmed much of the work that the trustees have been working towards throughout 2012 and earlier.
According to the poll, the top three priorities for Wedgwoodians are:
Land use planning (design guidelines, 35th Ave NE zoning, streetscape),
Pedestrian improvements (sidewalks, crosswalks, pedestrian overlay zone), and
Public safety (police presence, block watch, emergency preparedness)
Land Use Planning
As you may know, the WCC has a land use committee that was formed out of the Wedgwood Vision Plan steering committee. While this committee hasn’t been meeting regularly in recent months, there are several things that will see this change in the very near future. First, the results of this poll confirm that the community values the land use planning activities that it has been working towards. Second, and perhaps more importantly logistically, is that we are fortunate to have a new trustee who is excited to chair the committee! If you’re interested in being part of the Wedgwood Land Use Committee, please email » us and let us know!
Based on the comments we received, there are many people in the community who are concerned about the proposed new school on the Thornton Creek Elementary School site. While we share the concerns of the project, especially the loss of the playfields, we have also tried to explain our position on the proposed school (see the bottom of this post). Should the BEX IV levy succeed and the Thornton Creek Elementary School site is chosen for the new school, we intend to work with the School District to make sure the community is part of the design process.
The single most surprising thing for me to learn before working on pedestrian improvements was just how expensive they are. It is very expensive for the City to design and construct many of the improvements that we hear about (e.g., more sidewalks) for a variety of issues. However, there are some simpler forms of improvements that may have a great positive impact at a low cost. In 2012, we worked towards large projects which will result several blocks of new sidewalks as well as smaller projects, such as a new crosswalk at 35th Ave NE and NE 80th Street. The poll results again reaffirms our work on these improvements and will encourage us to continue seeking pedestrian improvements, both large and small, as we move forward. If you have specific blocks, intersections, or forms of improvement that you suggest we work on, please let us know. Better yet, get involved and help us out! The more the merrier!
In 2012, we saw a rash of armed burglaries at 3 of our banks. This level of crime is unusual for our neighborhood and it reminds us that we need to keep our ears and eyes open for any suspicious activity. We also began the process of revamping our Wedgwood Block Watch and transition from our old email system to a new Wedgwood Block Watch Google Group. 2012 also saw us partnering with Sustainable NE Seattle to secure a grant for emergency preparedness. The purpose of the grant was to help our NE Seattle residents prepare for emergencies, learn to respond as a community in such an event, and establish our Wedgwood Emergency HUB located at the Hunter Farm Gathering Place. There is an upcoming emergency preparedness training on Wednesday, January 30th at Wedgwood Presbyterian Church, from 7-9 PM.
We know there are other priorities for Wedgwoodians as well as land use planning, pedestrian improvements, and public safety. We’re continuing to work on increasing public open space, including the park acquisition process (which is going slower than we hoped) and funding a trail system through the Inverness Ravine Park.
What do you think of these rankings? Share your thoughts in the Comment Section below.
The WCC is an all volunteer council that advocates on behalf of the Wedgwood neighborhood. We aren’t nearly as successful without your involvement and your donations (or membership dues!). We would love to talk with anyone in Wedgwood who would like to become involved and serve as a WCC trustee?Pleaseemail »Per Johnson or email » to discuss further.
Katie Traverse, a WCC Trustee and the President of the Wedgwood Elementary PTA, has been on a mission for sveral years to bring vital pedestrian and safety improvements to several blocks around Wedgwood Elementary. There are no sidewalks around the elementary school or surrounding neighborhood. With more and more kids walking and biking to school commingled together in the street with large yellow school buses and passenger vehicles, it’s only a matter of time before something regrettable happens.
In 2011, she sponsored a Neighborhood Street Fund grant application to develop a design for pedestrian and safety improvements along 28th Avenue NE , NE 83rd Street, and NE 85th Street. The NE District Council (NEDC), which is a citizens group comprised of neighborhood representatives throughout NE Seattle and who is responsible for pre-ranking Neighborhood Matching Fund and Neighborhood Street Fund grant applications, ranked her application #1. Her project went on to be funded and SDOT has completed 60% design drawings for the improvements. However, funds for construction have not been secured.
Last week, the NEDC reviewed and ranked numerous Neighborhood Street Fund applications submitting in December throughout NE Seattle. All of them well deserving and important to making NE Seattle a safer place. After their deliberations though, they ranked Katie’s Complete the Street Project #1. Given SDOT’s involvement with this project, we’re hopeful that they too will recommend the Complete the Street project for funding and new sidewalks and pedestrian improvements will be coming to Wedgwood Elementary School!
UPDATE: This post has been revised to reflect the new name of the project that will be seeking funding. WE CAN Safety Project was the original project that was funded through design. The Complete the Street Project is the new project seeking funding to construct the design. Additionally, the 60% design drawings have been linked to for your viewing.
Wedgwood Elementary School at 2720 NE 85th Street (corner of 30th Ave NE) is located in a single-family neighborhood with few pedestrian amenities and a pattern of speeding, according to a study by Seattle Dept. of Transportation (SDOT). As part of the Wedgwood Vision Plan completed in 2010, a survey showed that a high percentage of residents are concerned about pedestrian safety, traffic and speed control. Since that time the WCC and the PTA of Wedgwood Elementary School have been engaged in the arduous process of applying for grant funding to improve safety.
Wedgwood School opened in September 1953 with all-portables because there were so many children that the school district couldn’t wait for the permanent building to be completed. In a case of deja vu all over again, this year the schools of northeast Seattle are once again overflowing and are adding portable classrooms. As Wedgwood School approaches its sixtieth year, there still are no sidewalks on some adjacent streets for children to safely walk or bike to school! We thank Katie Traverse and her grant-writing team for their efforts, and we’ll let you know the progress on the grant application.
TONIGHT: November 13 at 7 PM, you are invited for a neighborhood discussion about sidewalks and traffic safety around Wedgwood Elementary School. The meeting will be held in the school lunchroom, beginning at 7 PM, and pizza and beverages will be provided. The meeting will be approximately one hour, and sidewalk plans will be available to review. City of Seattle Transportation staff (SDOT) will be on hand to answer your questions or concerns.
New sidewalks are proposed on NE 85th Street, 28th Ave NE and NE 83rd Street. Funding for design has been partially secured and the neighborhood is actively searching for funding for construction. Wedgwood School is 58 years old and still doesn’t have sidewalks on these nearby streets! Let’s get it done!
What creates those great, vibrant ‘places’ where people congregate, socialize, and feel welcomed? Turns out…a lot of things.
In the latest of our ongoing Coffee Talk series, we were led on an visual tour by Brice Maryman with SvR Design as he shared various design concepts and conditions that lead to great place making. Creating that sense of place is an important step in establishing a well used commercial corridor that attracts shoppers and businesses while being desirable to walk through.
The conditions necessary for great places differ depending upon the community. For those that came to the latest Coffee Talk, lots of characteristics were identified of great places and not-so-great places. Here’s what we came up with:
Places to sit
People converge, interact, and create happenstance community
Place for commerce
There’s a reason to be there (a draw)
There are center and edge spaces
Approachable and inclusive to everyone
Evokes emotion and meaning
It communicates shared experiences and community
Sense of familiarity and stirs memories
A void space ties together destinations
Dynamic, interactive, and fun
Becomes symbolic or iconic
Becomes a focal point
What are the elements of not-so-good places?
Lacks focal point
Barriers to entry
Not an appropriate scale
Monochromatic and boring
Sense of fake-ness
In addition to this visual tour of place making, Brice discussed recent projects his firm has completed that incorporate place making into streetscape design. You can read Valarie’s perspective of the latest Coffee Talk here.
As always, we’ve got the Coffee Talk in true-to-form poor quality for all to watch and relive the magic of the night. Note that the location of the upcoming Coffee Talks may be changing due to scheduling conflicts at Messiah Lutheran on Thursday nights.
Coffee Talk 4: ”Place-making and Successful Streetscape Features” – Thursday, May 24th, at Messiah Lutheran Church (Fellowship Hall – Downstairs) from 7-8:30PM. Speaker: Brice Maryman, SvR Design
What creates that sense of place and provides a comfortable pedestrian environment, safe for all ages and abilities? What softens the urban environment, establishes a transition between street and storefront, and unifies one part of the neighborhood with another? Some of this can be done with thoughtful consideration to the pedestrian environment and providing the amenities throughout a right-of-way. This is one of the design elements that NE Seattle residents are considering as part of the 35th Ave NE neighborhood planning efforts.
This Thursday, we are excited to have Brice Maryman from SvR Design, a firm renowned for their streetscape design (among other disciplines) to introduce this subject to the community and share some thoughts on what can be done to 35th Ave NE.
Thanks again to Top Pot Doughnuts for their support and providing delicious coffee and baked goodness for the Coffee Talks. Make sure to put the remaining Coffee Talks on your schedule:
UPDATE 1:HERE is the link to the presentation materials used during the District’s 3 community meetings in April 2012 regarding the BEX IV Capital Levy. Of particular note, slides 7 and 8 show a projected increase of over 800 seats in elementary and almost 900 seats in middle school by 2020. The presentation materials also project an increase of $4 – $225 additional cost per year, per home owner depending upon which action alternative the District chooses.
The public elementary and middle schools in NE Seattle and around Wedgwood are packed and enrollment continues to grow. This isn’t news (see HERE, HERE, and HERE). The Seattle Public School District (District) has been working on capacity management planning for some time now with periodic public meetings with each new iteration of their plan. K-5 enrollment projections for the Eckstein Service Area, shown on Page 3 HERE, estimate 570 more students by the 2015-2016 school year (4,029 students in 2011/2012 to 4,599 students in 2015/2016). As a result of this surging enrollment, the District feels as though portables alone cannot solve the demand and a new school is necessary. So, in February 2013, the District is planning on including construction of a new K-8 school on the Thornton Creek Elementary School site as part of the Building Excellence IV (BEX IV) Capital Levy.
This past Saturday, I spoke with Harium Martin-Morris, the School Board Member for District III (Wedgwood’s district). Mr. Martin-Morris emphasized the need for this new school at this particular site. The specific details for the new school are not yet known, but it is proposed to be a K-8 school for 650 to 800 students (per conversation with Mr. Martin-Morris). The new school would be an Attendance Area school while the existing Thornton Creek School would continue as an Alternative School. While we have not seen any site plans for the new K-8 school, Mr. Martin-Morris explained that the school would generally be located where the current ball fields are located.
The District has begun the environmental review for three different action alternatives along with a No Action alternative within its Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement. Under each action alternative, the new K-8 school is included. The Wedgwood Community Council is still collecting information on this proposal and has decided to refrain from endorsing or opposing this proposal. Instead, the WCC will only attempt to provide accurate information to the community from both sides so parents and neighbors can make their own decisions.
As part of the project’s environmental review, the public comment period ends this Friday, May 25th.
Sorry for this last minute notice. But, parents from around the City are meeting tonight, from 7-8:30PM at the Bryant Elementary library to discuss planning how to increase the number of students walking and biking to schools. This discussion builds on the success demonstrated already at Bryant Elementary which has lifted the percentage of students biking to school in from 11% in 2007 to 33% in 2011.
Here in NE Seattle and other Seattle neighborhoods north of NE 85th Street, the most frequently heard answer to this question is “more sidewalks.” While sidewalks is certainly a critical component of walkability, the more complete answer is more complicated. Traffic calming, destinations to walk to, land use, pedestrian scale lighting, ADA-accessibility, maintained vegetation, and numerous other design elements go into making a neighborhood more walkable.
On Thursday, March 22nd, Paula Reeves with WSDOT, Kevin O’Neill with SDOT, and Lisa Quinn with Feet First shared their thoughts on walkability and the importance of proximity at our 2nd Coffee Talk. The presentations and following discussion was exceptionally useful for those neighbors and 35th Ave NE Steering Committee members that came. In case you missed it, have no fear, you can relive the Coffee Talk (in far-from-high-definition and minus the delicious coffee and donuts provided by Top Pot) here:
Don’t miss the 3rd Coffee Talk, “Design at a Human Scale. A Primer on Urban Design Concepts and City of Seattle Design Review Guidelines,”on Thursday, April 26th from 7-8:30PM at Wedgwood Presbyterian Church (Fellowship Hall). The speakers will be John Owen with Makers Architecture and Urban Design and Cheryl Sizov, Senior Urban Planner with City of Seattle DPD.
UPDATE: Maya Jacobs from the UW is hosting a meeting for folks interested in “Bike to Wedgwood” (elementary school) rides. The meeting will be at 6:30PM, April 3 at the NE Branch Library.
UPDATE 2: Video from the Seattle Channel and Seattle Neighborhood Greenways from their 3/22/12 Citywide Greenway panel discussion were posted below:
You may have heard a bit about “greenways” recently in the local news (here and here). These are safe routes off of major arterials for bicyclists and pedestrians that also provide opportunities for traffic calming and improved streetscapes for residential streets. These greenways seem to be popping up in neighborhoods all over Seattle, including Wallingford, Madison area, Beacon Hill, Ballard, and University District. Now, residents from several NE Seattle neighborhoods have coalesced to form NE Seattle Greenways (Facebook and Twitter) to begin planning a network of greenways in our neck of the woods.
Children’s Hospital and SDOT are finalizing design of a greenway along 39th Ave NE, running north from the Burke-Gilman Trail up to the intersection of NE 75th Street (the southern edge of Wedgwood). This is a section of greenway that was suggested by neighbors as part of Children’s Hospital Livable Streets Initiative, which was a major planning effort that Children’s undertook in 2010 as part of their master planning. As we understand it, the NE Seattle’s first greenway will be built sometime in 2012. We’ll provide more information on the greenway as it becomes available. Until then, Councilwoman Sally Bagshaw (photographed above and one of the City’s biggest advocates of greenways), will be at the Wedgwood Community Council’s general meeting on Wednesday, May 9th to discuss greenways among other issues.
You can see a summarized map of the numerous pedestrian and bicycle projects that community members suggested during Children’s Livable Streets Workshop below.
Seattle Channel featured Greenways in their recent City Stream episode in the video below (Starting at Minute 1:26-7:47).
The Seattle Neighborhood Greenways group has posted video of their recent citywide Greenway Panel Discussion featuring Peter Haun, SDOT Director Peter Hahn, Traffic Engineer Dongho Chang, Cathy Tuttle with Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, and a multi-hat wearing professor and planner Anne Vernez Moudon.