by Devin Chicras
Our first community meeting of the decade brought dozens of neighbors together to meet our new King County Councilmember and learn more about the 2020 Census, a new recycling startup, how Skyway Park is expanding, and more!
The entire meeting was livestreamed on Facebook so no one had to miss a minute.
One major benefit of attending meetings in person is to check out the valuable resources on our table, and to connect with your neighbors!
WHCA Board President Jeremy Williams opened the meeting with an acknowledgment of the recent loss of Charles “Chuck” Vitiritti. He mentioned how active Chuck was in the community, and mentioned that one way neighbors can get involved in supporting their community is to volunteer with WHCA.
Skyway Water and Sewer General Manager Cynthia Lamothe said Chuck “gave it his all. For his VFW, for his country, and for his community. He was tireless… The best thing we can do is to carry on the things he did in his memory.”
Cynthia also reported on the Skyway Sewer Lift Consolidation Project. The project has started with a new contractor, and will break ground in February.
She also updated us on the King County Franchise Ordinance situation (would charge the District a fee for having pipes in King County right-of-way). Washington Supreme Court overturned a lower court’s decision and said that the County could proceed. The District is evaluating its options.
KCSO Community Service Officer Scott Dungan shared that our West Hill Community Crime Prevention Officer Deputy Jen Eshom has been invited to go train at the academy and will be leaving her position shortly. An interim officer will take her place for a couple months until Deputy Jimmy Mitchell comes back from leave. Crime in West Hill has been very minimal lately.
Skyway VFW Post Commander Larry Weldon and Auxiliary President Cheryl Scheeler explained the VFW’s community-centered mission and asked for new members. There are several upcoming events that are open to the public.
Friends of Skyway Library Kathleen Sidwell reminded everyone about the book sale shelf at Skyway Library, there is a dropbox for cash. There are many new events at the library including King County Community Service Areas’ office hours, AARP tax help, and kids’ storytimes.
Eric Wilcox from the US Census Bureau emphasized how important the 2020 Census is. You will get a letter with instructions on how to fill out the census online in March.
Cierra Sisters Founder Bridgette Hempstead invited everyone to their World Cancer Day celebration on February 8th at Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center. Cierra Sisters is an African-American breast cancer survivor and support organization.
Founder of Ridwell, Ryan Metzger, explained his new recycling startup that lets you recycle anything from plastic film to holiday lights in a box on your porch. Learn more at Ridwell.com.
Yvette Dinish of Community-Owned Real Estate Development (C.O.R.D.) introduced the new organization to create a community trust, and asked for folks to come talk to her if they were interested in sharing contact information and taking a survey.
King County Councilmember Girmay Zahilay mentioned that he grew up in Skyway and this community is “near and dear” to him.
His overarching vision for Skyway-West Hill is “a collaborative one.” The whole state, and maybe the whole country, should be paying attention to us. See his op-ed in the Seattle Times here.
Skyway has “an opportunity to get it right before it’s too late” regarding gentrification. We can be a model for the entire country. He’s been meeting with state representatives and senators to tell them about what opportunities exist here around housing, anti-displacement, and investing in small businesses.
We need to address the fact that King County’s tax structure is broken, because of severe limitations from the State. We can only raise revenue through property taxes and sales taxes, and there is a +1% per year cap.
“I’d love to work with each and every one of you to make [things] happen”. You can reach Girmay at [email protected]
David Kimmett of King County Parks displayed a map that showed that the only two assets King County Parks owns in West Hill are Skyway Park and a series of disconnected parcels called “Bryn Mawr Park”.
David mentioned they recently were able to add to Skyway Park by purchasing a parcel right behind Roman Casino, under the power lines. There are a couple of other parcels under the power lines adjacent to Renton Avenue South that they are also currently in the process of working with the current owner to purchase. Purchasing a parcel in the back of the parking lot behind Holy Temple Evangelistic Center would create an entrance right near Skyway Library.
Because Roman Casino has new owners, Parks will once again reach out to see if they can acquire and vacate the street going into the park near the casino to create a more welcoming entrance.
Krista Dooley of Washington Trails Association previewed the work that will go into creating a new trail down the power line hill from Renton Avenue South into Skyway Park. Community would be invited to help plan, and volunteers would be welcome to help build it. They also have an outdoor leadership program for youth, and a gear lending library.
Brooks Village property (down Renton Avenue South past Skyway Grocery Outlet) may also be something King County Parks acquires in the near future. There will be more community engagement around this going forward.
King County Water and Land Resources Division’s Lizzy Stone and Sarah Brandt want community feedback about why trees matter. They are updating their Strategic Climate Action Plan, and have an initiative to plant 1 million trees by 2020 (they’ve already exceeded this amount). They want our feedback to determine priorities for the next 30 years.
King County Local Services Director John Taylor provided an update on the Skyway-West Hill Land Use Subarea Plan and shared some highlights from the department’s very first year of existence.
The Executive-recommended Skyway-West Hill Subarea Plan was transmitted to King County Council on September 30th, 2019. It is currently being reviewed by the Mobility and Environment Committee. The goal is for the Council to adopt the plan by the end of June 2020. Once the subarea plan is adopted, the proposed zoning will go into effect. Staff is already working on the action items featured in the plan.
You can submit comments by attending Council meetings or submitting responses online.
Jeremy wrapped the meeting by reminding everyone of the upcoming 2020 Presidential Primary election (see our overview here), how important it is for folks to become monthly donors to WHCA, and opportunities for organizations and businesses to secure their annual sponsorship of WHCA.
At our next Quarterly Meeting on April 21st, WHCA Board Elections will be held.
Hey neighbors! If you like having a more engaged, informed and vibrant community, you can make a huge impact by joining your neighbors in giving $5 or more a month to the leanest, hardest working all-volunteer nonprofit in the neighborhood.