Mayor On Sidewalks, Dog Parks, and Roundabouts

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn at the Town Hall on November 27th, 2012

Tuesday night, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn addressed resident’s questions at a Town Hall conducted at the Northgate Community Center. Moderated by friend-of-the-blog Philip Shack of Cedar Park (who was just elected chair of the City Neighborhood Council), McGinn took questions for 90 minutes on a series of issues. Numbers were distributed to those wanting to pose a question which were limited to one minute of speaking time (one person walked out in protest).
Regarding Northgate, he said, “Northgate has been changing and will change more,” particularly with the coming of Light Rail. The work around 5th Avenue NE and Northgate Way is nearly completed (though one person complained the new sidewalks were too steep), and a proposal to extend the hours for youth services at the community center did not pass the city council this year.
He stated the obvious about the redevelopment of the Bill Pierre Properties in Lake City saying, “It has some real opportunities,” and having met with two of the Pierres, was encouraged that a business wanted to do something positive for the neighborhood rather than just make the biggest buck by selling out.
On sidewalks (which as we all know are extremely expensive), he noted that his own neighborhood around NE 87th in Greenwood was also sidewalk-free and that, “It’s way over due” but “We need more resources to focus on it.” Noting, “I really think small projects matter,” he concluded with, “We have to find a better way to finance them than we have now.” (Philip Shack pointed out that Neighborhood Street Fund is currently accepting applications for projects in the $100,000-$750,000 range with a deadline of December 17th, 2012 if neighborhood groups wanted to organize for a desired project.)
There was a surprising constituency for roundabouts in Seattle (note, these are the large European ones beginning to be used on the Olympic Penninsula for some intersections, NOT traffic circles used on residential streets to slow traffic). He said the city had an interest in experimenting with them (“There are advocates in the Department [of Transportation],” but would need appropriate space in order to work as they are larger than the average intersection.
And more than a few people among the two dozen or so attendees wanted more off-leash areas for dogs. Apparently the 98115 zip code has more dogs in it than any other part of Seattle and no off-leash area.  Even the new giant park going in on top of the Roosevelt reservoir does not include one (resistance from the Parks Department was alleged by a member of the Maple Leaf Community Council). Giving a non-committal “I hear you,” the Mayor encouraged the community to keep telling officials that this is a priority for them if they want them.
Finally, on the topic of drones being deployed, McGinn described them merely like “a radio-controlled helicopter that will fly for 10-15 minutes” and would only be used when emergency responders needed an eye in the sky, for example during a siege situation. But he affirmed, “We will not use them until a proposal has passed the city council” to regulate their use.

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