May QACC Meeting addresses Earth Day/Arbor Day concerns; letters to SDOT

Appropriate to the recent “green” holidays, the May Queen Anne Community Council meeting dedicated much of its time to guests speaking on behalf of trees and forests last Wednesday night.

Kay Napton, a member of the Seattle Planning Commission and FOLKpark, spoke on the need of FOLKpark to raise money to fund their $1.5 million project.  The amount raised from grants, about $850,000, falls well short, said Napton. She asked the QACC to help broaden FOLKparks breadth of contacts, such as leaders in the community and environmental groups, that can help raise the remaining funds needed to renovate Lower Kinnear Park.

Plant ecologist Michael Yadrick spoke about the Green Seattle Partnership and their efforts to enhance the tree canopy across the city. He said the organization was six years into its 20-year plan to reforest 2,500 acres, which include the Northeast, Southwest and Kinnear Park Greenbelts. Much of the work is done through volunteers, and Yadrick said Green Seattle Partnership will be looking to engage and recruit citizens in the area to be involved in the reforestation process.

Queen Anne resident Judy Leshner spoke about her development of Queen Anne tree tours based in part on the work of Arthur Lee Jacobson and his book “Trees of Seattle.” Leshner has created five self-guided Queen Anne tree tours to date, but still needs to finalize the tours by verifying some of the information with an arborist.

“I wanted to come up with something that was of interest and use to the Queen Anne community,” said Leshner. “As a former school teacher, I thought would be interesting to school children … and to those in the community and outside, who may go to businesses once they’re here.”

Greater Queen Anne Chamber of Commerce Director of Marketing Mary Chapman said she was interested in putting Leshner’s tree tours on her organization’s upcoming “Visit Queen Anne” website. She was also given ideas by council members on grants and city and organizational contacts.

Apart from the Earth Day and Arbor Day concerns, the transportation committee report headed by committee chair Glenn Avery discussed two letters addressed to SDOT and other interested parties that was passed in a vote at last week’s transportation committee meeting. Both letters were also passed by the council.

The first letter stated several points, including: QACC’s approval of SDOT’s alternative 5 for West Mercer Place; that the project be done this year; that the BAT lane south of West Mercer Place on Elliot Avenue West be converted to general traffic; and that SDOT conduct studies when finished extending the turn lanes on Elliott Avenue West to find out whether the desired results were achieved.

The second letter addressed West Mercer Place and the Mercer West Project more generally. It asked for comprehensive planning for pedestrian safety and movement throughout the Mercer/Roy corridor, as well as planning for parking requirements to sustain area businesses; the incorporation of crosswalks and traffic lights at Fourth Avenue West and Mercer Street and other corners where needed; three lanes each way on Mercer Street under the Aurora Avenue North underpass; the exclusion of in-lane bus stops on Mercer Street unless there are additional unblocked lanes; no construction to take place while the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement, including the Viaduct demolition, is underway; and comprehensive review of the project when it’s finished to find out whether it’s working or if it needs changes.

In addition, another “stronger” letter specifically addressing parking in Uptown with respect to the Mercer West Project will be written.

Councilmember Kirk Robbins also spoke about the possibility of Lake City’s temporary tent city moving to one of two sites in the Magnolia/Queen Anne area. The mayor convened a panel that picked seven possible sites for a permanent tent city, said Robbins, including one at the West Yard down on the waterfront and another on a Seattle City Light site in the West Dravus Street area of Magnolia. All of these sites are “back on the table,” and the evaluation process by the Seattle City Council was extended into July, said Robbins. QACC Chair Ellen Monrad said that they will continue to monitor the city’s decision making on the permanent tent city, and council members floated the idea of writing a letter.