Community Post

Madison Valley kids & parents get crafty for MLK building

We stopped by the Valley School this morning where a group of parents and their kids were busy creating art with construction paper, colored pasta, and glue. The goal was to continue to push and hope for the school district to turn the old MLK Elementary building over to their community group to serve as a community center for the Madison Valley neighborhood.

Kimberly Larson, a parent and the Vice President of CCC@MLK, told me that the use of pasta was symbolic, as the community used to hold community-building spaghetti dinners at the MLK school before it closed down.

The timing of a decision is still uncertain, as they weigh proposals from four groups, including a large cash offer from the Bush School which occupies the properties east of MLK. Bush has proposed demolishing the old MLK school building and replacing it with athletic fields.

Larson said that they’ve received word that the school board may have additional news in a few weeks, but it’s not clear if that will be a final decision or another step in the process. An August permitting deadline is quickly approaching which would make it very difficult for any of the three groups who want to keep the building, due to required upgrades that would likely be financially infeasible. 

Citizens interested in supporting any of the options for the MLK property can contact the school board at

0 thoughts on “Madison Valley kids & parents get crafty for MLK building

  1. I read on another article here that they need another community center because the nearest one is “half a mile away”. That is a good reason to get millions of taxpayer dollars for this project! We would not want any Seattle resident to walk that far. The school district really needs money, but lets give it up for half price so a few people don’t have to walk/drive to one of the 3 community centers already in the area.

  2. If you have ever spent time in Madison Valley you’ll quickly discover that it’s uphill in all directions — and steep hills at that. It’s not just an issue of the nearest community center being 10 blocks away up hill (Miller @ 19th and John), but also an issue of any playground or community space being 10 blocks away UP HILL and across several busy, dangerous intersections or a bus ride on buses that do not come that often (so yes, those another issues to also–increase frequency of buslines in the Valley, put in more cross walks to make pedestrian travel safer). Families have no place to walk to easily with their young children, retirees (who might be less inclined to drive) have no social space to walk to easily. To make Seattle a vibrant place to live and work, we need walkable communities and more places where we can gather, learn and connect with others.

    As far as the money, MLK Jr. School is a publicly owned building. CCC@MLK has offered the School District the appraised value of the building and property, so the District is not giving away the property if sold or leased. The School District needs money and they would get $2.4 million by selling it to CCC@MLK. Would they get more selling it The Bush School to level it and make it a privately owned playfield? Yes, but that would be one-time shot in the arm, not a longer term solution to balance their books, and a publicly owned asset would go to a private entity. And not just any private entity. It would be pretty ironic for a public School District to try and get more money by selling off a property to its competition: a private school.

  3. Do you really think Bush is competition to sps? I think not. Are parents really choosing between Bush and Madrona? lol… There have always been kids in the valley, but none of the white families would support the school by sending there kids to mlk..You must not be a bus rider-the number 8 runs every 15mins now, the 11 pretty often also.

  4. I’ll bet the residents of that area are thrilled with their plan to bring in gang members(at risk youth), do you plan on distributing bullet proof vests? I hope so.

  5. maybe my comment was a little harsh, but it should be a concern of neighbors, youth centers do tend to bring violence. and this ccc@mlk appears to have no money so what can be expected regarding security, parking, etc? if i remember all streets are small around there.

  6. Is Bush competition to Seattle Public Schools? Seems like a laughable question until you realize that SPS is not just MLK. McGilvra is an excellent school that is now the reference school for Madison Valley too, and yes, many white families are sending kids there. I know I will be considering Bush, Valley, and McGilvra when the time comes for our child. I highly doubt that I’m the only one. IMHO, Bush is competition to Seattle Public Schools (at least up to grade 5).

  7. As someone who lives in the immediate neighborhood around MLK, I support the Bush school’s efforts to acquire this property. The Bush School has been able to provide consistent, reliable security around their facilities and they manage what could be a very challenging parking situation without very much disturbance to the neighborhood.

    The CCC group has done plenty of outreach to the extended community, the School Board, City Hall, the local media, and to lawmakers in Olympia, however they have not reached out to one group of people who would be impacted by the presence of a community center at MLK the most: the actual neighbors themselves. CCC has not addressed the security or parking concerns of those who live in the vicinity of MLK, while the Bush School has gone out of it’s way to communicate that it has neighbor’s interests in mind.

    Over the long term, Bush has the resources and the vested interest to ensure the grounds are well maintained and available to the community. It is unclear if the other groups proposing will have the funds or the stamina to manage a facility that is in desperate need of repair. Bush is an institution that has been around for most of the past century, and while it would be nice if surplus public facilities could be utilized for long term public use, the fact is that Bush will be the best stewards for the property over both the near and the long term.

  8. Members of CCC were intensely involved in the SUAC process that determined how the property could be used. The discussions included security and parking issues that were brought up by the neighbors closest to the school. These issues were addressed by the SUAC committee with input from community members and are included in the conditions that will have to be observed by any group that purchases or leases the property. At one point, the resulting document could be viewed or downloaded from the school district’s web site. I don’t know how the SUAC rules would be affected if there is no structure on the property anymore. The Bush plan is to knock down the buildings and install a playfield (soccer, I believe) for its students with limited usage by the community.

  9. Yes mcgilvra does get high marks and is much more diverse than mlk was, it was where people in the mlk area wanted to send kids, not to mlk though..would you be considering mlk if it was your designated school? it was one of the worst performing schools in the district , if you can afford valley school or bush you would have sent there.

  10. I too support the Bush plan, it is well done and creates a nice playfield and playscape with community access. Most appealing is the stability of Bush and knowing they don’t rely on public funding year after year, the other groups bidding are not financially stable and I don’t think they would be able to keep up with the huge utility and upkeep expenses every month and if critical repairs are needed they would not be able to do it.

    ccc@mlk likes to say they want to be like delridge, phinney and others, big difference is those places are not tucked away on small streets, they all have major roads and transit in front of them and big parking lots, MLK school has none of that. Most of the potential customers will be driving, some within a block or 2 will walk, but most will drive. I don’t think the folks on Harrison and Republican fully understand the amount of traffic it will generate from 6am-10pm.

    I support the open space plan.

  11. TimS, your comments have appeared elsewhere and are completely unfounded. I have lived in Madison Valley for 11 years, when Bush’s playground used to be open for my then toddler to play on. My husband used to play basketball at MLK with the other neighborhood kids on the weekends and evenings, and never experienced “violence”. The only safety issues we have had, have been the rash of daylight breakins by the neighborhood youth this year.

    And as for your comments regarding those not wanting to send their kids to MLK, the year my child was going into Kindergarten MLK was closed, we were looking forward to being able to walk him to a diverse montessori program AT MLK. Now we wait for his school bus and watch the stream of luxury cars from Bush whiz past carelessly. We drive to parks and playgrounds 2-3x/weekend since Bush has an 8′ fence around their new play area.

    Seattle has been striving to make its communities walkable. When our only car broke down last summer, we decided to walk/bike, with an 7yr, 4yr, 2yr old to go to pre-school, t-ball games, baseball games and church. Minimum 25 min walks to any park. Walking uphill with kids is difficult, slow, and frustrating for them, they can’t use scooters or bikes uphill or downhill either. Even riding bikes from Montlake Comm Center with very capable 7yr old and 4yr old took 45 minutes, one way! The definition in planning standards of a walkable neighborhood is having amenities within 1/4 mile radius. There is not any park or play area or gathering area for this neighborhood for .9 mi. and ALL are uphill. Not acceptable for many retirees or children in the Madison Valley Neighborhood.

    And as for the person complaining that CCC has not reached out to the neighborhood regarding parking and security concerns, I am a neighbor, and I feel they answered my concerns. I do feel Bush has not answered my concerns though. Kids need a safe place to play all the time, not just M-F when Bush isn’t using the field. They have done little to address the traffic speeding down Harrison in the mornings. I live next door to the Valley School, and their families and traffic are much more sensitive and respectful of the neighborhood.

    For future reference, from MLK school:
    Madrona park is .9 mi
    Madison Park is 1.2 mi
    Montlake Comm Center is 1.8
    Garfield is 1.5mi
    Miller is .9mi.
    From a neighbor that is tired of having to DRIVE to a playground!

  12. “And as for your comments regarding those not wanting to send their kids to MLK, the year my child was going into Kindergarten MLK was closed, we were looking forward to being able to walk him to a diverse montessori program AT MLK.”

    In the districts closure report for mlk they show 7 white students out of 127 enrollment, and stated ” The elementary school students living in the current Martin
    Luther King reference area have much smaller proportions of non-white and free and
    reduced lunch students than the population currently attending Martin Luther King”.

    They are saying the neighbors do not send their kids to the school. It is nice that you wanted to, but majority did not.

    I wish my area has many parks and community centers within 1.8 miles as you have, and a bus every 15 mins #8, #11. At least you have the play area at the valley school next to you to use. It is open to everyone to use right?

  13. Please, then tims, work for a park or community center in your area rather than arguing against one in ours. And no, I don’t think the play area at the Valley School is open to everyone. It is certainly not open to the public when the school is in session for the same reasons that the playfield Bush is planning wouldn’t be (liability issues for one). Here is something the neighbors immediately surrounding Bush might want to consider. The SUAC rules laid down for the use of the grounds included some parking to accommodate people who worked in the buildings. Knock the buildings down and use the whole thing for a play field, where are you going to put the cars of the families of visiting schools? Bush has been open about their plan to let other schools use the field. Kids and families from these other schools don’t have the vested interest in keeping peace with the neighbors that the Bush folks do, or as the people using our center would. I may be cynical, but I can imagine all sorts of issues around parking, grounds maintenance, and security.