Full report: North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s June meeting
EDITOR’S NOTE: We reported the big news that broke during this month’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting as soon as it happened – word that the King County Executive was committing to proposing continued funding for the White Center storefront deputy – but that’s not all that happened; here are the other highlights.
By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor
The NHUAC meeting began with an ending – Ron Johnson retired from civic involvement. He had been on NHUAC since 1996, he said, retiring once before – in 2003, “for a whole year” – before jumping back in. James Bush gave him a certificate on behalf of King County Executive Dow Constantine.
Johnson said, “I’ll be out there.”
OFFICER ELECTIONS: Barbara Dobkin was re-elected unanimously as president. Liz Giba was elected unanimously as vice president. Pat Price won unanimous election as secretary, and Christine Waldman as treasurer.
KING COUNTY LIBRARY SYSTEM UPDATES: Angie Benedetti was announced as the new King County Library System regional manager, now in her second month in that role. Bill Ptacek called her a “legend” in the system – someone responsible for “buying almost all the books in the system.” As for the new White Center Library to be built on 107th between 14th and 16th, he said the property purchase is almost complete, with what amounts to a 60-year loan with zero interest. He reiterated that the library won’t use the entire site, so KCLS is looking for “another partner” to share the site. They are casting a wide net to find that partner – preferably another nonprofit, he indicated. When will construction start? Depends on where the library will go on the site – and a “public process” is required before that is settled, he said. “The beauty of the site is that along with being right across the street from a school, it’s right at the head of 15th, and could be a beacon to the start of the business district.” He said ideally they’d like some visibility from 16th but if they move it too far west, it might not be visible from 15th. They can’t pick a partner until they decide where on the site the building will be sited. Meantime, they’ve chosen NBBJ as the architect, from a field of about a dozen. He noted that the principal architect of the Burien Library is now with that firm. The first meeting between KCLS and NBBJ happened today; the first public meeting about siting is likely to be in mid-July, date and location to be set. Nothing’s happening with Boulevard Park right now – there’s no formal date for the 2004 bond money to be used on it, Ptacek said, though they’d like to have the project under way by next year.
Giba wondered what would happen if Seattle annexed White Center, including the new library site. “(The annexation issue is) going to be up in the air for a while,” Ptacek observed, but, as that line of discussion proceeded, he noted that members of the community were the ones who evangelized this site, “which just seemed like the right site for the library.”
A bit later, White Center business owner Elizabeth Gordon asked Ptacek why this location is better than the current one. The reasons he cited were its proximity to a school, its position at the “head end of the commercial district,” the fact the current library will be able to stay open until the new one is up and running, and that it was a “really good deal.”
Postcards will be sent out as part of the notification of upcoming meetings on this project.
Rachael Levine of the White Center Library Guild pursued the line of questioning about why the current library site is being scrapped – many “felt it had served well,” she said. NHUAC president Dobkin pointed out that the meeting in which the site was chosen was a 5 pm meeting in Issaquah. Ptacek was taken to task by the next person to speak from the audience who suggested the community still doesn’t fully trust the library system management and its board. “I’m hearing it and I hope you’re hearing it – I don’t think this has been a straight-up process so far, and I think it needs to be from now on.” Some applause followed that.
Now-former councilmember Johnson said, “We paid (taxes) for a King County Library – if annexation (to Seattle) happens we still want it to be a King County library,” though he acknowledged he’s not sure how that could happen.
Without comment on the last two points, Ptacek’s part of the meeting ended.
METRO: DeAnna Johnson was on hand, talking about the possible financial crisis faced by the transit service. Asked why fares couldn’t be raised to cover the potential gap, she said it would take $4-$4.50 each way to cover it.
Why did so much service move from White Center to Westwood in last fall’s service change? Dobkin asked Martin. Westwood is “a great hub … with more connections to more places,” she replied. “It’s a transit hub with no park-n-ride,” Dobkin countered. “We’ve heard that request from a lot of people,” Martin acknowledged, then saying “there’s nothing planned at this point … with the current financial situation, it’s hard to invest” in that sort of thing.
KING COUNTY TRANSIT RESOURCE OFFICER: Bill, who’s been with Transit Police for many years, is involved with a new program – Transit Resource Officers, and he’s hoping there’ll be five of them. His area ranges from the West Seattle Bridge and miles south, as a liaison with police regarding bus stops with trouble. “I have a lot of resources .. it’s against the law to do anything but sit there politely on a bus and ride the bus. … Our biggest teeth is the suspension program.”
Late-night drinking, any kind of a bus-stop issue – he can look into it. He works 10-6, Monday-Friday. There are 69 Metro Traffic officers if they’re fully staffed, which currently they’re not, he says. “The bulk of our business happens between 1 pm and 11 pm,” with a sharp dip around 7:30-8 pm, people going home, or going to shelters. 239 bus routes, 9,000 bus stops, 1280 buses on the road, only about 400 have cameras. He said he spends the “vast majority of (his) time” in front of Bartell at 15th/Roxbury. He says in his view, and that of other police, the “high-octane fortified beer and wine” is White Center’s #1 problem – “people get drunk and want to fight.”
What if you see graffiti? He suggested reporting it to 911. (Wilson suggested contacting Metro customer service.)
STOREFRONT DEPUTY PETITION: P.S. to the previously mentioned commitment for Constantine’s budget to propose continued funding – NHUAC points out it’s not a sure thing till the budget is finalized later this year, so more signatures on their online petition would be welcome.
TO TABLE AT JUBILEE DAYS OR NOT TO TABLE? NHUAC will, its members decided. And that’s where you can see them in July – their meetings, otherwise, are on hiatus till September 5th.
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