Local leaders came to Lake City Monday night for Mayor Ed Murray’s sixth “Find it, Fix it” community walk. Previous walks have visited other Seattle neighborhoods and crime hotspots.
Murray, along with Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole, Seattle Fire Chief Gregory Dean, Sen. David Frockt, and other officials and City of Seattle department representatives, toured the neighborhood with about 50 local residents. The tour highlighted troubled areas and elements of the community that are in need of improvement.
The walks, as described in a press release, allow community residents, police, and city officials to “walk together to identify physical disorder and solve it.” The goal of the walks is to help Seattle City Light, the Seattle Department of Transportation, the Department of Planning and Development, and Seattle Public Utilities to make improvements in Seattle’s neighborhoods.
As noted during the walk, city departments often rely on reports from residents about transportation problems, crime, derelict properties and other issues in a community. One speaker said that if a problem area is not continually reported by the community, it is more difficult to deal with because it has to then be noticed by a department employee. And that can take much longer.
Reporting a safety or crime concern is easy to do with the City of Seattle’s Find it, Fix it mobile app (the app can be downloaded by clicking here for iOS and Android.) The app allows users to easily report graffiti, potholes, illegal dumping, abandoned vehicles, and other issues. You can also use the City’s website to report problems by clicking here.
During the Monday walk, plenty of those reportable items were found, and eight large trash bags of litter were gathered by volunteers from the North Seattle Family Center and Hunger Intervention Program.
The walk with community members —and an earlier walk with members of the Lake City Neighborhood Alliance and city leaders— gave people a chance to air concerns about the community.
When a speaker from the City stood in front of the dilapidated Aqua Dive site to talk about graffiti removal, the structure provided a strong backdrop for the way some property owners have allowed their buildings to become eyesores and contributors to behaviors that negatively impact the community. The Aqua Dive and neighboring structures are know to be popular places for drug users and others that have been kicked out of homeless housing projects in the neighborhood. At one point, one of the leading advocates for Lake City’s homeless community shouted out that the structure needs to be torn down.
The walk also meandered over to the old Fire Station 39 and the Lake City Community Center —both city-owned properties in the core of Lake City that debate has swirled around their future use.
The City has proposed leasing the old fire station to the Pierre Auto Centers for two years, delaying development of the property. A previous proposal was to build transitional housing for formerly homeless people on the site. That proposal generated significant opposition and some would say was a catalyst for the formation of some of Lake City’s current active community groups.
The walk ended at the Lake City Community Center, where Mayor Ed Murray thanked community members for taking the time to walk around the neighborhood. Earlier discussion with the Mayor and Lake City leaders centered around the future of the building, its lack of amenities, and spaces that are not ADA accessible. The Lake City Neighborhood Alliance earlier sent a letter to the Mayor’s office advocating for a new, full-service Lake City Community Center to support the youth, families, and seniors in the Lake City Hub Urban Village.
The walk gave community members a brief moment to point out issues in the core of Lake City, a likely more effective way than trying to explain a problem in a meeting environment. General topics such as our overall lack of sidewalks —a topic that historically dominates community meetings here— was only discussed a few times as other specific problem areas prompted residents to enter discussions with representatives from the City of Seattle Departments.
The walk was led by Seattle Police officers and roads were shut down by officers for the group of pedestrians to safely walk on the streets —something that one resident pointed out is not available to pedestrians that regularly have to walk in Lake City streets.
As city officials and residents dispersed after the evening walk, another crowd started to fill in the Lake City Mini Park. The usual suspects were out there drinking tallboys, with one man pacing back and forth yelling at passing motorists. Officials from the walk watched the scene unfold as they returned to their cars near the Mini Park.