McGinn calls out Mallahan for opposing funded street car

Tuesday morning in First Hill Park, Mayoral candidate Mike McGinn formally announced his support of a First Hill street car. This is one of the first punches thrown in this election series, with McGinn responding to Mallahan’s “inefficient use of taxpayer money” approach to street cars. “It shows a difference in values and a difference in vision for the city of seattle,” said McGinn. Voters have already approved the funds for the First Hill street car through primarily a sales tax increase.

We’ve spent a lot of time on CDNews talking about the street car and its possible routes, such as the 12th Ave. route that hopes to revitalize that area that borders the Central District and First Hill. When asked about this route, he expressed the need to stay the course, and let the communities decide the route and did not commit to any particular alignment. McGinn’s vision for the First Hill street car was focused around separating it from traffic, making sure it had the right of way and was the quickest choice of transportation in that area. McGinn continued, saying that this was the major downfall of the South Lake Union street car. He was open to considering a street car on First Ave. as well as connecting street car routes, but said emphasized the need to choose the “right tool” for any new transit investment. 

Responding directly to Mallahan’s issue of cost, McGinn alluded back to his opposition to the deep bore tunnel, saying the First Hill street car is already fully funded with a stable financing mechanism, while the tunnel is not. Also regarding the tunnel, McGinn brought up the fact that Mallahan supports an issue that “70% of voters disapprove of” yet does not support the street car with “70% voter approval,” and mentioned this Times article as a direct example of cost overrun possibilities in tunnel construction.

McGinn claimed he had originally called the conference to join in support for the First Hill street car, but was “surprised” when Mallahan expressed his opposition. “When the voters vote for something, and fund it, we should build it. Mr. Mallahan does not seem to think that is the case,” said McGinn. 

Garfield’s 12-6 win ends last season’s losing streak

Saturday’s sun peaked in and out over West Seattle Stadium as the Garfield Bulldogs football team clenched their first win of the year over the Franklin Quakers; a much needed victory after a winless 2008 season. 

After a scoreless first quarter, Garfield’s towering wide receiver Tony Wroten Jr. led the team to its first touchdown despite a drive laden with penalties. Wroten, Garfield’s nationally ranked Basketball star, just started playing football again this year. His talents played a role in Saturday’s win, regardless of a minor injury causing him to sit out for most of the 4th quarter.

But Wroten, as well as many of the other players on the field struggled with turnovers and penalties. Multiple Franklin fumbles as well as dozens of Garfield offensive fouls caused many opportunities to be given away. Also, both teams failed to score any point-afters.

However, lost yardage, a late Franklin touchdown and the leadership of Franklin’s quarterback could not overcome Garfield’s craving for victory. Running back Valebtino Coleman’s 4th quarter touchdown sealed the win for the Bulldogs, and started their season off right.

More photos can be found here.

Madrona family business loses beloved owner

We learned through a forward from a Madrona email list that Tom Thong, the owner of Rubys Cleaners in Madrona, passed away this week. From the email, the daughter and son-in-law have come back to help figure out the business, and are unsure if the family can keep it going without outside help. Today, there is a sign on the door informing customers that they are only accepting pick up orders, but “should be back to normal operations shortly.”

‘Second chance’ planning meeting flooded by CD neighbors

The Miller Park community center played host to the “second chance” neighborhood planning gathering Thursday night for the Pike/Pine, Central Area, and Capitol Hill Neighborhoods.

About 40 people attended, with a majority coming from the central district, to discuss and gain community feedback on the 10-year-old neighborhood plans. This meeting was a special effort to confirm the community’s involvement, but David Goldberg from DPD explained that this is only a step to a plan update, as only a few neighborhood plans will qualify under the undetermined criteria for updating.


Each neighborhood group was tasked with answering four questions, moderated by a volunteer from the community with knowledge of their respective plans:
1. Most of the neighborhood plans were adopted about 10 years ago and are in their mid-life. How has your neighborhood changed in the last decade since the plan was adopted, (or since you’ve been there)?
2. What changes or aspects of your neighborhood are you most pleased about? Most dissatisfied about?
3. How well are your neighborhood plan vision and key strategies being achieved? Are they still the priority?
4. The city is completing neighborhood plan status reports focusing on demographics, development patters, housing affordabilitiy, public amenities, and transportation networks. What should there be more focus on (or less) as the neighborhood status reports are completed in the coming months? Are there any important gaps in the draft status report?

Those of you who took the city’s online neighborhood survey might recognize those — they’re the same questions the city asked on the Internet.

For Central Area, the immediate concern was the clumping of three different urban villages, Madison-Miller, 12th Ave., and 23rd & Union Jackson, despite differences in opinion within those communities and the separation of Pike/Pine from Capitol hill. While not complete, here is a summary of what was said at the meeting at the Central Area table lead by Adrienne Bailey.


How has your neighborhood changed in the last decade?
  • Increase in number of people in the community. 
  • Different demographic. 
  • Decrease in facilities per person. 
  • Housing that doesn’t attract a diverse cultures. 
  • The need for addressing green building. 
  • Rent difficulties for small businesses competing with “big box stores”
  • “Slapping a name on a park is an insult not an attribute.” No historical explanation or relevance behind the names on city parks.


What changes or aspects of your neighborhood are you most pleased about? Most dissatisfied about? 
  • Lack of marketing to minorities (African Americans, Asians, Jewish) to come back to the Central Area. 
  • Lack of local, small businesses. Again, being priced out by big buisness. 
  • No investments in the community: Resturants, dry cleaners…all services that you can come and leave with.
  • Central Area is not a destination for people outside of the neigborhood to come and spend time/money.
  • School closures. 


How well are your neighborhood plan vision and key strategies being achieved? Are they still the priority?
  • Commercial side (ie. Safeway housing on madison) worked, Pedestrian part failed. 
  • No center in 23rd & Jackson or 23rd and Union when they were supposed to both be “hubs”. 
  • Supposed to be a transportation hub…no light rail. 


What should there be more focus on (or less) as the neighborhood status reports are completed in the coming months?
  • Need data on: How people commute to work. Family information. 
  • Families aren’t going to pick our neighborhood if there is nothing for their kids to do. 
  • Implementation of the plan: how will changes come about, who is going to do it, how long will it take? 
  • The need for different urban villages to ban together?
  • Concern with distribution of information Internet vs. paper.

Garfield band finishes band camp; ready for the year

Thursday afternoon brought Garfield High School’s marching band camp to a close, after 3 full days of rehearsal and hard work.

Tony Sodano, Garfield’s third year marching band director, was happy about the progress made this week, but said they still have more to do. Sonata said the Drumline grew this year (which you can hear in the video), but they still had trouble getting wind instrument players to come out and wishes more of the players from Garfield’s nationally recognized jazz program would join.  I caught a glimpse and an earful of what will hopefully be leading the football team to victory this year at the end-of-camp showcase for friends and parents. The band is not playing at this Saturday’s game, but begins their season on the 12th.

Here’s the band playing “Louie Louie” – Warning: The room was quite loud while the band was playing, as reflected in the sound quality of this video. 

Central District youth program income nearly doubles via Neighborhood Matching Fund

After a long application and review process, 19 neighborhood plans from across Seattle were accepted for additional funding through the Neighborhood Matching Fund. The awards were presented Saturday by Mayor Nickels at the historic Boys and Girls club in Greenwood, the first Boys and Girls club in Washington, and a recipient of matching fund money as well. According to Nickels, this year’s matching funds were in high demand, with three times as many applicants as last year.

Of the 19 groups accepted, the East African Art and Culture Association (EAACA) was the only organization from the heart of the Central District receiving funds. In order to “enhance multimedia knowledge and skills and to promote cross-cultural art”, EAACA was granted $45,000 to add to the money it raised on its own.

Speaking with EAACA founder Sultan Mohamed, he explained the program is only a year old, but has given many under-served youth a chance to learn a great skill and share their multimedia talents with others. The money, he said, will help continue the project, training returning members to recruit and mentor new kids entering into the program. 

EAACA is open after school and Saturdays, providing youth with access to computers, art, and connecting them with volunteer opportunities. 

Full list of award winners: 

$80,000 to the Polish Home Association for an expansion and remodeling project (Central District) 

$71,737 to the Artists Collaborative of Southeast Seattle for dance and instrumental music programs that offer positive alternatives for youth and encourage partnerships between families, schools, and community groups. (Southeast Seattle) 

$63,750 to the Committee for Renovation of the West Woodland Field for creating a green sustainable track and a ga-ga ball court and rain garden on the school playground. (Green Lake/Phinney) 

$67,210 to the Global to Local project to create youth-driven approach to creating and producing programming in Delridge and West Seattle. (Delridge/West Seattle) 

$75,000 to the Southeast Seattle Senior Center for the renovation and upgrading of the facility. (Rainier Valley) 

$77,200 to the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center for the ALL ACCESS partnership to empower local youth through arts-based learning. (Delridge) 

$54,849 to the Homeless Place of Remembrance Committee for the creation of an artistic remembrance to honor homeless people who have died. (Downtown) 

$79,700 to the Friends of International Children’s Park for to contribute to the restoration of the park by adding play equipment and commission a public art installation. (International District) 

$54,849 to the Delridge Neighborhood Trails Committee to create kiosks and wayfinding signs to guide pedestrians to parks, business areas, and community resources. (Delridge) 

$50,000 to the Friends of Northlake Wharf for planning efforts to convert an underused piece of waterfront into an active public site for community use. (Lake Union/Fremont) 

$100,000 to the Seward Park Playground Improvement Foundation for construction of a new nature-themed play area at the entrance of Seward Park. (Seward Park) 

$95,100 to the Vietnamese Friendship Association for a community organizing project that will foster youth leadership, civic engagement, and creation of a model those immigrant communities can use to address social and economic inequities. (Southeast Seattle) 

$28,230 to SouthEast Effective Development for marketing and expanding access and use of the Columbia City Gallery and increase opportunities for diverse artists. (Columbia City) 

$60,000 to Kimball Elementary PTSA to create a global learning community by fostering inclusion and support, leadership development, and providing programs and classes for parents. (Beacon Hill) 

$45,000 to the East African Art and Culture Association to work with youth on enhancing multimedia knowledge and skills and to promote cross-cultural art. (Central District) 

$80,000 to the North Seattle Boys and Girls Club for the creation of a plaza and gathering place for Greenwood neighbors. (Greenwood) 

$88,200 to the Concord Elementary PTSA for the creation of a multi-purpose space for outdoor recreation and education. (South Park) 

$90,000 to the Friends of Waterway #18 to create a new gathering place on Lake Union by restoring the shoreline, planting native habitat, and improving access. (Wallingford) 

$98,761 to the West Seattle Junction Association for the creation of a community plaza and green space in the heart of the West Seattle Junction. (West Seattle) 


17 years strong: The 20th & Union summer block party

Saturday marked the 17th consecutive year that neighbors from 20th & Union gathered for their annual summer block party. An all-day gala filled with games, music and tons of food, this year’s party was, as with every year, a great success. 


According to the event’s current organizer and local caterer Brenda Lee Neuweiler, the party began in 1992 by a family living on the block. It quickly became a tradition, centered around the father’s ‘hood-renowned barbecuing and the crowds it drew. Sadly, after his passing, the party faded into a simple pot-luck, lacking the ritualistic feel that it once had. But for the last 5 years, Neuweiler and other neighbors have revived the event to a celebration of summer and community that lives up to what the party once was.

Neuweiler said the event usually draws about 90-110 people every year from all nearby blocks, coaxed in by a blasting stereo, buckets of hot dogs and hamburgers, a water slide, and a friendly corn shucking competition. Fairly relaxed during the afternoon, the party picked up speed around dinner time as people began pouring in to chow down on Neuweiler’s fire grilled cuisine.

This year’s party was another big hit, despite a visit from the local police concerned about the safety of a blocked, but poorly lit street. Neuweiler obtains a permit 60 days in advance every year to block off 20th between Union and Marion, but a miscommunication brought Seattle’s finest to make sure everything was alright.

(Photo: Lucas Anderson/

(Photo: Lucas Anderson/

(Photo: Lucas Anderson/


See more pictures of the event here.

Central District Forum’s open house welcomes new executive director

Thursday kicked off a new era for the Central District Forum for Arts & Ideas, as the community welcomed the new executive director Kumani Gantt at the Forum’s annual open house. Gantt succeeds former director and founder of the CD Forum Stephanie Ellis-Smith, and hopes to continue the Forum’s 10-year reputation of evoking new thoughts and ideas about the diverse African American culture.


Speaking with Gantt, she expressed her vision as one that won’t change the Forum, but will continue building on what has already been created. However, she says she still has some big ideas, including plans to reach out and include local teens in the happenings of the Forum. Her work in her hometown of Philadelphia was focused on the youth, and the Forum’s board members were in agreement about the need for more teen involvement. As for new additions to the 2009-2010 season, Gantt kept the essence of the Forums strategic plan to herself, jokingly saying it was “not ready for the press.”

The event itself, catered by local West African restaurant afrikando afrikando, was full of local artists and community members mingling and enjoying the deep fried plantains, drinks, and eventual cake on the Yesler Place rooftop.


The Forum’s next event is its 10th Anniversary kick-off party in October at Sole Repair on Capitol Hill. 

Your community leaders: Willie Woods

There are some community organizations that it is hard to imagine living without. But Metro bus driver Willie Woods was in the Central District at a time when some of these services we take for granted did not exist. He’s one of the people who helped make sure they did.


(Photo: Lucas Anderson/

An Arkansas native, Woods moved to the Central District in the 60s to go to school at Seattle Pacific College, now Seattle Pacific University. But it wasn’t until after two years in the service and many more as a worker at the now closed Rainier Brewing Company that Woods decided the CD could be a better place for his children if he was a part of its growth. He began coaching for CAYA athletics in their turbulent years before handing over responsibilities to other organizations, working to continue the baseball, basketball and football programs provided for Central Area youth. Woods remained active after the CAYA essentially dissolved, assisting the head coach of the new football program, the CD Panthers.

Woods was also a leading parent in the establishment of the Central Area Aquatic Team. Back then, after children completed swimming lessons at the YMCA, they had nowhere to test their skills, and continue growing as a team. Woods and others recognized this and created the Central Area swim team, which has evolved into the CAAT and continues to allow children to compete at the highest level.


More recently, Woods has participated on the Squire Park Community Council as a board member. SPCC board member Bill Zosel said while Woods was never too excited about land use issues (there are few that are), he was always interested in continuing youth projects. However, his commitments to his family and his career as a Metro Driver forced him to put off community service for the time being. Woods left the board after two years of service, but is still happy to help in any way he can.


If you see Woods driving the 27 bus down Yesler, make sure to give him thanks for his time working to make CD a better place.

Your community leaders: K. Wyking Garrett

Politics and endorsements aside, documenting the community leaders and activists that keep our neighborhood running is a duty of this website. For the first in a multi-part series on Central District’s neighborhood leaders and activists, I interviewed community builder and mayoral candidate K. Wyking Garrett.


Ignoring for a moment his candidacy for mayor, you wont find a person with the community driven background and determination comparable to Wyking Garrett. A third generation community builder born and raised in Central District, Garrett has been fighting for his neighbors since demanding a “culturally relevant, career based education” from his advanced progress program classes at Washington Middle School. He graduated from Garfield High School and headed out to New York to attend college and create hip-hop with a positive message. But Garrett came back, and volunteered as a member and mentor at Central Area Youth Association, at the Miller community center, and coached with the Seattle youth sports.
It is with this community focus that Garrett hopes to drive neighborhood improvements in Seattle as mayor. “Citizens have many of the answers, but government is not working with them for the solutions,” he said. Garrett said he sees education as an essential foundation for any neighborhood, but the current educational system is outdated for today’s economy. Attributing these problems to school closures, lack of universal access, and diminishing teacher pay, Garrett hopes to create cultural and historical centers to provide supplemental education until the system can be revitalized. 


Outside of schools, Garrett stressed the need for proactive solutions to youth violence and gang activity with projects like the African American Heritage Museum at the Coleman school. “We need to give our young people something positive to look up to and build on,” said Garrett. He wants to build on the current makings of the African American community in the CD by creating “Africa Town,” a neighborhood foundation similar to the International District that builds a “coordinated effort” towards community improvement. Garrett also seeks to create bridges between historical residents and newer residents of the CD.


When questioned about equality and neighborhoods outside of the Central Area, Garrett stressed the issue of diversity, and the need to address neighborhood concerns from the ground up. “Issues are citywide, but not every neighborhood is the same. We can’t expect the same solutions to work across Seattle.” 


On direct policy and platform questions:
  • Garrett opposes the new Jail, and says the money is going into negative housing instead of education, rehabilitation, and positive, affordable housing.
  • On overall housing, Garrett plans to follow a model based on the Habitat for Humanity: create jobs building affordable homes that the workers themselves can live in.
  • Garrett is against the plastic bag tax, saying it is unfair to low income citizens, but supports mass transit and localizing jobs for less car travel.
Alongside his campaign, Garrett is still working actively in the community: leading the recent Umojafest, and as the founder and co-founder of the African American Heritage Museum and Cultural Center and the Umojafest P.E.A.C.E. Center respectively. 


You can find more information about Wyking and his campaign at his website.