John posted earlier about last night’s announcement of Neighborhood Street Fund projects that have been funded by the city.
Our neighborhood’s winning project will get $45,000 to make some pedestrian improvements on the west side of the Garfield campus:
- Widen the sidewalk on the west side of 23rd, south of the intersection at Jefferson St.
- Add a curb-bulb on the southwest corner of 23rd & E. Terrace, shortening the distance required to cross Terrace as you’re walking along 23rd
- Realign the sidewalk to match the curve of 23rd at Terrace
- Build a new planting strip along the adjusted sidewalk on each side of the intersection at Terrace
It appears to be a worthwhile project as far as pedestrian issues go. We’ve walked that path many times and wondered why the sidewalk design there provided such an awkward transition at Terrace.
But looking at the full list of funded projects around the city, it’s pretty clear that our area came out on the short end of the stick. The next-smallest project was $112,000 in West Seattle, and other north-end projects got upwards of $700,000 each.
It appears that part of the blame here rests with the city. The Garfield Superblock proposal (attached at left) included many more components than just upgraded sidewalks at Terrace and Jefferson. It also planned for upgraded pathways around the Medgar Evers pool, upgraded street lighting, and a raised crosswalk on Cherry in front of the old Mann school. That original project estimate of that work was $210,000, much larger than the $45,000 sub-project that was finally funded.
Other projects in the neighborhood were proposed but did not get funded, including the $280,000 of improvements to 13th & Union that we discussed earlier in the year.
But a large portion of blame lies with us, the residents of the Central District and surrounding neighborhoods. There’s plenty of pedestrian, cycling, and transit issues around the neighborhood that need fixing, but we seem to be lacking the community ideas and leadership to plan them, propose them, and get them funded.
An example of a large-scale project that worked is the late-90’s were the improvements to Union between 20th and 22nd. It added wider sidewalks, curb bulbs, bus-stop seating, and pedestrian-scale lighting that made the area a friendly spot for local businesses to set up shop. Since then the area has taken off, with Central Cinema, 2020 Cycles, Hollow Earth Radio, and Katy’s Cafe providing a lot of new street life that didn’t exist before the improvements.
We’ve got other neighborhood business districts that could use a similar kind of love, whether it’s Cherry Street between 23rd & MLK, Jackson Street, or still-too-fast parts of MLK.
Wondering what you can do to help us have better success next year? Brainstorm projects with your neighbors, get involved with your community council to organize around them, and follow through to get them approved in the city’s processes.
But organization and persistence is key. Otherwise we’ll continue to see dollars awarded to better-equipped neighborhoods, and things that need attention around here will continue to suffer.