local impact of leaving Mann building vacant

I attended the public hearing at the Horace Mann Public School building (2410 E Cherry St) last night that addressed the Seattle School District’s proposal to close the facility indefinitely due to an unprecedented deficit the district currently faces. I’d like to report that the turnout of supporters for the NOVA program was impressive: a packed halI – students, parents, administrators. Roughly 35 of the 40 speakers were students of the NOVA program. Their ideas were well organized, mindful, passionate, and very clearly articulated their worries about how a move would impact the program itself. The strengths of the NOVA program shone through, and I have no doubt that future leaders of our community and nation are being nurtured and housed through this “alternative” haven.

However, home owners in the central area were sorely underrepresented. I’m gravely disappointed, especially given the immense concern over crime (robberies, drug sales /activity, shootings) that has been expressed over the past year through listserves, blogs, community news forums in combination with neighborhood watch and general “talk in the street” among us.

In case you haven’t heard, the school district plans on shuttering this facility, with no immediate plan for future occupancy. I rent directly behind the school and, as a former Garfield High student, have a great love for this neighborhood and it’s residents and businesses. I dread the thought of an entire block, with a hundred year old historic building sitting empty, boarded and fenced. The safety of my block, will be impacted particularly hard by the inevitable looting, vandalism, and other blatant crime that comes hand in hand with a vacated premises, especially one as large as the Mann facility.

If you are truly concerned with the safety of our community, please communicate your worries directly to the school board. They are acting fast and, unfortunately, your voice, as community members, were not heard at this meeting, which, by and large, is why this public hearing was mandated by law. At the very least, ask them to have a plan BEFORE evicting the NOVA program. Thanks and please comment here as well.