Patrick Robinson
Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn took a walking tour of the Admiral District on March 23 with David Whiting, President of the Admiral Neighborhood Association and others to see in person issues and concerns about the area.

SLIDESHOW: Mayor McGinn walking tour gets him up close to Admiral Neighborhood issues

Mayor Mike McGinn took a walking tour of the Admiral Neighborhood on Saturday, March 23 to hear neighborhood concerns and see the issues and area in person. As Sol Villarreal, Community Engagement Coordinator put it, "It's the difference between somebody sending you a letter and showing you what it looks like." The Mayor has done, "about 20 of these," he said and plans to do more.

The tour began with a quick review of the Admiral Safeway as a successful finished project that was done with a lot of community engagement and input.

David Whiting, Admiral Neighborhood Association President talked about the historical lighting that was put in and extended down California Ave. SW and the windows that were installed on the street side. Next up was the proposed project at 3210 California Ave. SW (a five story building with 180 units, and some live/work units. Parking for 180 vehicles below grade) whose early design guidance is coming up April 11. There's a lot of uncertainty about the street impact due to the way the elevation on the project works, and cited the fact that 11 homes will be affected by it, plus there is no alleyway.

The "bulk and scale" of the project in the neighborhood was mentioned and the potential traffic impacts brought by that many cars.

Because the building is on a slope parts of it will rise to a level of 75 feet. "There are four units of Live/Work which I would argue are not particularly engaging with the street," said Jo Ellen Wang. "I think four stories might fit in better than a five story building," said Paul Stansik.

The group next walked to the playground at Lafayette Elementary School to hear a brief presentation from Sean Reynolds, who is the playground committee chair and Vice President of the PTSA (president elect for next year) who discussed Phase 3 of the playground improvements. He shared with the Mayor and others that the project is having trouble getting funding. "We want to create an outdoor classroom and a green schoolyard," he said, and really have the community and the students learn about renewable resources in a self educating manner, with solar panels and rain water collection, and step down terraces. It really seizes the opportunity to utilize the upper terrace." The Mayor inquired about the stage the project is in and Reynolds replied that they have applied for the Oppotunity Fund through the Green Spaces Levy but, "It doesn't sound like we've been recommended on to the next stage."

He noted that the cost would be, depending on the extent of the build out, $600,000 but, "it could ultimately be built with hardscape and a lot of volunteer effort for probably in the $300,000 to $350,000 range." The Mayor said, "I don't know if any Mayor has ever changed the recommendations of the Parks oversight committee."

They will seek funding through the Dept. of Neighborhoods in the form of a matching grant if Parks money is not available or seeking partnerships with Seattle City Light on the solar aspect. The Mayor suggested some funding could possibly be found through Seattle Public Utilities if water drainage was as aspect of the project. "I'm a big believer in the granular level of these projects," he said and not letting big projects soak up all the capital. Lots of small projects knit neighborhoods together and make them great."

Pausing briefly near 45th SW and Hanford the group heard some discussion about neighborhood greenways (alternate routes for biking that diminish bike/auto/pedestrian conflicts) and the wish to give pedestrians and bikes priority on certain streets. The mayor said, "The original bike master plan was a little more focused on commuters going to and from downtown as opposed to creating neighborhood routes. If it's safe for a kid to get around, that's a good bike route. What we're hearing from the public is, 'Try to develop a set of interconnected neighborhood greenways where the bikers have priority. We've got to figure out how to connect them so they don't end in the neighborhood."

Pedestrian improvements along Admiral Way were the focus at Alki Mail and Dispatch and across the street at Admiral Way and Waite Street. Alki Mail owner Don Wahl and others told McGinn that Admiral Way is a dangerous road citing the death of Tatsuo Nakata in 2006, and others who have been injured on the road. McGinn said he would talk about the issue of signals on Admiral Way with SDOT, but made no promises.

The mayor was asked about mass transit and talked about the concerns people have about Metro's "C" Line that now serves West Seattle. He talked about light rail and pointed out that West Seattle, while in the top 20 routes that are being considered for light rail service, is not in the top five.

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