Duwamish Valley Program Annual Update 2019

End-of-Year Progress Report

Partnering with Community to Deliver Results

It's been a year-and-a-half since the release of the Duwamish Valley Action Plan and we have lots of good news to share about how City departments and community are advancing community priorities to improve the quality of life in the Duwamish Valley. In addition to near and mid-term actions, the Duwamish Valley Action Plan (pg. 81) contains five long-term strategies - anti-displacement; workforce development & job pathways; climate change adaptation; parks & open spaces; and 8th Ave. S in Georgetown. City staff and community members continue to make progress on these actions and strategies. Potential partnerships with agencies like the Port of Seattle and King County are in the works, too. On the community side, Villa Comunitaria (formerly South Park Information & Resource Center) and Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition have secured grants to support community organizing for affordable housing and to strengthen the community's voice by better coordination and collaboration. Here are a few things we accomplished together in 2019:

1 new trail to connect Georgetown and South Park underway Granted $575,000 to Duwamish Tribal Services for improvements to the Longhouse Secured $1.5 million for new river access and park Disbursed more than $1.1 million to 15 community-led projects
$2,000 Fresh Bucks disbursed to Duwamish Valley community members 25 households in 98108 zip code to complete full oil to heat pump conversion

For more details on all projects and ongoing efforts, click on each of the priority areas below.

Seven Priority Areas

South Park Community Center

Physical Improvements:
Seattle Parks & Recreation (SPR) is in the design and permitting process of a major renovation to the South Park Community Center, focused on extending the life of the facility and increasing programming potential. This project includes a partial roof replacement, HVAC system upgrades, renovation of the restrooms, kitchen, and lobby spaces, as well as the addition of a gym divider and replacement of the multi-purpose room flooring. SPR is partnering with the Department of Education & Early Learning (DEEL) to accommodate licensed preschool within the Community Center. Design is scheduled to be complete in late 2020. The timing of construction will be coordinated with the South Park Community Center Site Redevelopment Project.

Georgetown Off-Leash Area

The process to develop a temporary off-lease area in Georgetown continues to move forward. Seattle City Light (SCL) began the street vacation process for a portion of Diagonal Way S to expand their footprint at their SoDo location with a presentation to Seattle Design Commission in early October. In exchange for the vacation, SCL proposed transferring SCL's Flume property (near the Georgetown Steam Plant) to SPR for a temporary off-leash area and inclusion in the Georgetown to South Park Connection project led by Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT).

South Park Plaza

Community Engagement:
SPR hired Karen Kiest Landscape Architects for the design of the South Park Plaza site and is partnering with the Duwamish Valley Youth Corps (DVYC) to assist with outreach. SPR staff supported DVYC members in preparing a presentation for their Environmental Justice Youth Forum held on November 16th to collect community input about the Plaza. This type of partnership is a wonderful opportunity for collaboration that has been successfully used in other locations.

Site Development & Activation:
Site development and activation work for the South Park Plaza site is also underway. SPR completed land survey work in October and is working to resolve right-of-way and property boundary issues. SPR is exploring Get Moving and Recreation for All grants to assist with Plaza activation activities while design is underway. An onsite public meeting was held on November 16th that drew great community attendance. SPR expects to complete schematic designs in the first quarter of 2020.

The Flume

See Georgetown Off-Leash Area.

Outside Citywide - South Park Riverwalk

Last summer, Office of Planning & Community Development (OPCD), Department of Neighborhoods (DON), Office of Housing (OH), and Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) worked with the Duwamish Valley Youth Corps on the South Park Riverwalk Mural project. This is the first step toward creating the connective fabric of the future South Park Riverwalk. The local youth did an amazing job designing the mural, presenting about it, getting feedback on their designs from the community, and laying down the paint!

Land Acquisition for Open Space and River Access in South Park (New!)

In June, the City received good news about a grant award of $1.5 million to help acquire two properties in South Park for future green/open space and river access, adjacent to the Duwamish Waterway Park and Gateway Park South (8th Ave. S Street End in South Park). The application was a joint submission between SPR, Office of Planning & Community Development (OPCD), Seattle Public Utilities (SPU), Office of Sustainability & Environment (OSE), South Park Area Redevelopment Committee, Friends of the Duwamish Waterway Park, Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition, Concord PTA, Duwamish Rowing Club, Seattle Parks Foundation, and others.

Puget Creek Trail (New!)

In December, the King Conservation District-Seattle Community Partnership Grant Program announced seven grantees for 2019's funding cycle, including Duwamish Tribal Services! Through this project, Duwamish Tribal Services will conduct a remediation study of a contaminated section of hiking trails and determine mitigation steps necessary to complete an environmentally safe loop around Puget Creeks' wetland, creek, and ravine system. The competitive grant program supports non-profit and community-based organizations in improving natural resources and advancing racial equity through direct improvement, education and outreach, capacity building, and pilot projects.

Community-Controlled Spaces

Building Management:
The City is working with tenants and other stakeholders to explore future building management of the South Park Neighborhood Center (SPNC), a City-owned building utilized by the local community for community benefit. White Center Community Development Association (WCCDA) completed interviews with stakeholders and Department of Neighborhoods (DON) led a Racial Equity Toolkit with tenants to explore self-management of the building. RDH Building Science completed a facility assessment and building reserves study to identify maintenance and building needs, costs for priority improvements, and a building reserves budget to address ongoing major maintenance. OPCD and DON are working with tenants to review findings and evaluate options.

Walk-in Cooler Replacement:
In July, the City quickly responded to a failed walk-in cooler at the SPNC. Leveraging a state energy grant and planned upgrades, OSE sponsored timely replacement of the refrigeration unit. The SPNC is home to a food bank and a meals program, along with other services and programming. The Food Bank program manager shared appreciation for a rapid response: "All of the families we serve in our community will be appreciative of the fact we can receive our normal delivery of eggs and milk next week." Additional improvements, including added floor insulation and LED lighting, are next on the schedule.

Georgetown Steam Plant

SCL is in final stages of negotiating a lease with a non-profit partner, the Georgetown Steam Plant Community Development Authority (now a registered non-profit with the State of Washington) to program, promote, and manage day-to-day operations of the facility for the public. A Letter of Intent was signed with King County International Airport for a new access road off Ellis Ave. S. SCL will also be making physical improvements to the building, including constructing a new roof and rehabilitating the exterior concrete, with funding from a National Park Service Save America's Treasures grant.

Community & Climate Resilience (Connect Capital)

City departments continue to support community capacity and climate resilience in the Duwamish Valley. Activities include strategies related to sea level rise adaptation, community resilience, economic opportunity, and relationship-building with community investors and funders through Connect Capital.

  • In July, SPU brought a Seattle team to an urban flooding bootcamp hosted by the Kresge Foundation and the U.S. Water Alliance, focused on climate resilience and water equity. Seattle team members included staff from SPU, Mayor's Office, Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition, and Villa Comunitaria (formerly South Park Information & Resource Center).
  • In September, SPU sponsored and convened a 150-person event in partnership with Urban@UW, Futurewise, OPCD, and OSE, focused on the intersections of gentrification, green infrastructure, and anti-displacement strategies, and particularly how cities and municipal utilities can support and foster community leadership and ownership in capital project delivery.
  • Office of Emergency Management (OEM) and University of Washington (UW) co-hosted a Community Resilience workshop in early October in South Park.  Community members were able to share their vision of a safer, stronger, and vibrant community; they also learned about natural hazards in the community and how to work together to better prepare, adapt, and recover from earthquakes, floods, and other events. OEM and UW will create a summary report of the outreach efforts and workshop outcomes to inform next steps and future work.  

Inclusive Community Engagement

In July, the City hosted a community celebration for the 1-year anniversary of the implementation of the Duwamish Valley Action Plan and the reopening of the South Park Library. Approximately 150 people attended, including City staff representing OSE, OPCD, Office of Housing (OH), SPU, Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), and SPR.

Duwamish River Opportunity Fund

In October, DON announced grants for four (4) community projects serving neighborhoods along the Duwamish River. As part of the Duwamish River Opportunity Fund, these projects will help to increase the sustainability of the neighborhoods impacted by the Superfund cleanup. Find more information about the projects here.

South Park Youth Mural Project (New!)

Last summer, Seattle Neighborhood Group organized a youth mural arts training project in partnership with Urban ArtWorks, South Park Arts, and the Office of Arts & Culture (ARTS). Nine youth participated in the first mural in South Park and spent 48 hours learning from teaching artist, Amaranta Ibarra-Sandys. After engaging businesses, the youth decided to partner with the Big Top Curiosity Shop located at 8507 14th Ave. S to design a funky, intergalactic-themed piece of art. Partners hosted the unveiling celebration on Saturday, September 14th before the Fiestas Patrias parade.

Duwamish Longhouse and Cultural Center (New!)

OPCD, through the Equitable Development Initiative (EDI), awarded $500,000 to Duwamish Tribal Services to purchase property adjacent to the existing Longhouse to support the continued viability of this cultural space. The expansion will help visitors safely access the Longhouse. EDI also awarded Duwamish Tribal Services $75,000 to support capacity building. EDI fosters community leadership and supports organizations to promote equitable access to jobs, education and childcare, outdoor space and recreation, cultural expression, healthy food, and other community needs and amenities.

Duwamish K-12 Field Trip Pilot (New!)

SPU partnered with IslandWood to implement a pilot program connecting 4th/5th grade students to the Duwamish River with ties to civics and science learning standards. The program includes a classroom-based pre-lesson as well as a 3-hour exploration of the river by boat. Phase l included schools with student attendance from the Duwamish Valley (Highland Park, Concord, Maple, and Sanislo). Phase II will launch next spring.

South Park Library (New!)

OSE sponsored the installation of efficient LED lighting at the South Park Library, specifically in the main reading room, children's area, and conference room. These improvements were finalized in December. These improvements are part of a City effort to improve the energy and emissions performance of City-owned buildings.

Georgetown Fire Station (New!)

After a car hit one of the old gas HVAC units at the Georgetown Fire Station (October), OSE sponsored its replacement with a new efficient electric heat pump that can also offer cooling in the Station. The City is working on a plan to electrify the Station's remaining HVAC units as part of a broader plan to electrify all City-owned buildings, which will be finalized over the next 18 months.

Georgetown to South Park Connection

Last summer, Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) and Department of Neighborhoods (DON) collaborated with Duwamish Valley Safe Streets to spread the word about the Georgetown to South Park Connection and collect input from neighbors on the preferred route. Approximately 400 people shared feedback and six (6) community groups wrote formal letters of support. Based on the survey and community meeting input, SDOT's design team is advancing early design focused on the three following sections of the preferred route:

  • Georgetown Section: A walking/biking path on Ellis Ave. S, S Albro Pl., and 13th Ave. S
  • East Marginal Way S Section: A walking/biking path or two-way protected bike lane on the north side of E Marginal Way S
  • South Park Section: One-way protected bike lanes on both sides of 16th Ave. S leading to the South Park Bridge

The City has secured funding for early design (30%) of the preferred route and will begin exploring elements such as street widths, pavement conditions, street crossings, and partnerships with adjacent property owners. Additional funding is needed to take the project to final design and construction.

Early Improvements:
In August, SDOT announced early enhancements to one section of the Georgetown to South Park Connection at the intersection of E Marginal Way S and 16th Ave. S. The Neighborhood Street Fund (NSF) will provide $399,000 for construction of pedestrian and bike crossings. SDOT expects to build the NSF improvements at this intersection in 2021.

This project is implementing the Georgetown Mobility Study. Subscribe to this project mailing list to receive updates here. Click here to visit the NSF webpage.

Drainage & Street Improvements

Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) and Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) are partnering to build streets with drainage pipes in the northern industrial area of South Park. This work is at 60% design and construction will begin in late 2020. To ensure the drainage pipes will function well with the tidal influence of the Duwamish River, SPU is building a pump station adjacent to the 7th Ave. S street end. The pump station is at 100% design phase and construction will begin in mid-2020.

8th Ave. S (in Georgetown)

Through the City's Neighborhood Matching Fund, the community developed a design for the 8th Ave. S street end park in Georgetown. The Port of Seattle is in the process of budgeting funds to stabilize the bank along the street end and adjacent to the park and the community is completing construction drawings for the first phase of the work. 

Georgetown Mobility Study

See Georgetown to South Park Connection.

Pedestrian Improvements Along 8th Ave. S (South Park)

This year, SDOT will build new sidewalks on 8th Ave. S, between S Sullivan St. and S Southern St. in South Park. The project includes a new sidewalk on the east side of the street where a temporary in-street walkway was installed in 2016 and replacing the existing sidewalk on the west side. The new sidewalks will preserve as many street trees as possible and will remove the pavement of the existing damaged sidewalk. The sidewalks will meet current Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards, making it easier and safer for people of all ages and abilities to walk to destinations like the South Park Community Center, South Park Library, and local businesses. Learn more here.

Increase Local Access to Contracting and Jobs

Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) hired Seattle Neighborhood Group via Seattle Neighborhood Greenways for community outreach and development for the South Park-Concord International Elementary School Home Zone (more details in the Public Safety section). Focus groups met in November to finalize the plan.

Georgetown As an Arts & Cultural District

The Office of Arts & Culture (ARTS) continued working with Georgetown stakeholders to designate Georgetown as an Arts and Design District. ARTS worked with a steering committee of Georgetown artists and residents to support their application as a Challenge Project, which is part of the path to creating an arts district. Once the group completes the Challenge Project, they will submit a letter to the City for formal consideration.

Duwamish Valley Affordable Housing Coalition

The City and Duwamish Valley Affordable Housing Coalition (DVAHC) continue to work together on affordable housing and equitable development opportunities. In 2019:

  • DVAHC completed capacity building work associated with their first $75,000 Equitable Development Initiative (EDI) Fund Capacity Building grant from the Office of Planning & Community Development (OPCD). Through this grant, the DVAHC developed a "three-pronged approach": 1) preservation of affordable housing; 2) creation of new affordable housing; and 3) creation of new affordable community-supportive spaces. OPCD will work with the DVAHC to enter into a second Capacity Building Grant to advance their goals of developing a building that would house nonprofit offices and community-supportive spaces.
  • OH made a funding award for $210,000 to Habitat for Humanity for the acquisition, rehabilitation, and conversion of three affordable rental units into limited equity residential cooperative ownership opportunities in partnership with the DVAHC.
  • Department of Neighborhoods' (DON) Duwamish River Opportunity Fund (DROF) awarded DVAHC $40,000 to hire a community development intern and to increase community engagement.
  • Office of Sustainability & Environment (OSE), through the Environmental Justice Fund, awarded $40,000 to the DVAHC. Through a series of community workshops, the DVAHC will teach skills in embodied art and storytelling to build resilience and place-based preservation in the Duwamish Valley. The project aims to engage neighbors of South Park, Georgetown, Beacon Hill, and White Center with a special focus on service workers, teachers, nurses, gardeners, seniors, and the Duwamish people. The project will culminate in the creation of a community archive of stories to be used for anti-displacement organizing.

Preservation of Existing and Increasing Access to Affordable Housing

OH continues to host engagement events in the Duwamish Valley to share information and resources with renters and homeowners. OH met with community members at the South Park Library in July to share information about homeownership stabilization programs and tabled at South Park's annual National Night Out in August. Additionally, OH and Office of Sustainability & Environment (OSE) partnered with the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition and Concord PTA to identify families/households for home improvements (e.g., insulation repairs, mold eradication, pest control, carpet replacement, etc.) to foster health and help stabilize the community. The team hosted two events on Saturday 12/07 to provide one-on-one assistance to South Park and Georgetown residents to apply for these "weatherization plus health" benefits. In 2019, seven families filled out applications and we anticipate home improvements. Finally, a 27-unit multifamily building in South Park also received weatherization plus health upgrades.

Implementing Public Safety Recommendations in South Park

Pedestrian Safety Improvements

  • Home Zones: Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) selected South Park-Concord International Elementary School as one of two pilot Home Zones in 2019. The pilot developed a holistic plan that prioritizes improvements around zones of people-centered areas to increase pedestrian safety and community use of the right-of-way. SDOT installed speed humps in areas close to the school in November as part of the first round of improvements. 
  • Sidewalk Improvements along 5th Ave. S and S Cloverdale St.: Construction is nearly complete on the sidewalk on the south side of S Cloverdale St., west of 5th Ave. S. This project included wide planting strips and narrowed travel lanes to help calm traffic entering South Park on S Cloverdale St. from the west. During construction, neighbors and businesses expressed concerns about the removal of a left turn lane at the intersection of 5th Ave. S & S Cloverdale St. that had to be used for construction activities. This lane has now been permanently restored to accommodate the high volume of trucks and school buses making left turns at this intersection.
  • Intersection Improvements at Dallas Ave. S, 12th Ave. S, and S Thistle St.: This five-way intersection is a challenge for drivers to navigate and pedestrians to cross. The intersection is near a large growing business and supports pedestrian access to a nearby bus stop. SDOT installed hatched barrier striping and flexible posts in May (funded through Your Voice, Your Choice) on the northwest and west legs of the intersection to promote pedestrian safety. Adding hatched barrier striping defines travel paths and aligns vehicles as they approach the intersection and improves safety and predictability for all travelers.
  • Upgrade Sidewalk at S Cloverdale St. Under SR 99: The sidewalks along S Cloverdale St. under SR 99 support a high volume of people walking to Concord International Elementary School, South Park Community Center, and the South Park Library. Design work, estimated at $90,000, is funded through 2018's Your Voice, Your Choice. SDOT is looking at the Safe Routes to School program for implementation. Pending additional funding, construction is expected in 2020.

Public Safety Emphasis Walk
In May, the City launched a focus in seven neighborhoods, including South Park, to improve public safety and address community maintenance needs. Directors from numerous City departments joined business and community members for business area walks to identify ongoing issues. To address these issues, the Seattle Police Department (SPD) and City departments are deploying additional resources and taking immediate steps to enhance SPD response and address small-scale maintenance needs, like replacing streetlights, trimming trees, removing graffiti, and removing illegally dumped debris. Click here to see the South Park Community Walk Update. 

Implementing Public Safety Recommendations in Georgetown

Public Safety Emphasis Walk
In May, the City launched a focus in seven neighborhoods, including Georgetown, to improve public safety and address community maintenance needs. Directors from numerous City departments joined business and community members for business area walks to identify ongoing issues. To address these issues, the Seattle Police Department (SPD) and City departments are deploying additional resources and taking immediate steps to enhance SPD response and address small-scale maintenance needs, like replacing streetlights, trimming trees, removing graffiti, and removing illegally dumped debris. Click here to see the Georgetown Community Walk Update.

Duwamish Bikeway/8th Ave. S Trail Improvements

Physical Improvements:
Office of Arts & Culture (ARTS), Office of Planning & Community Development (OPCD), Department of Neighborhoods (DON), SDOT, and Seattle City Light (SCL) continue to meet regularly with other stakeholders (Seattle Neighborhood Group, WSDOT, South Park Library, Duwamish Valley Safe Streets, Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition, Concord PTA, and others) to bring improvements to the 8th Ave. S Trail. The group hosted a 'Trail Day' on Tuesday, July 23rd that included cleanup activities, food, games, music, prizes, and art activities. OPCD is working on a vision to share with the community for ongoing maintenance, art, other public safety issues, and looking into potential funding sources. SDOT and WSDOT will continue working on ideas on how to maintain the Trail and its surrounding area.

Activation Through Art:
ARTS has secured funding to install artwork on the Trail and is working with community stakeholders to identify and implement ideas. In the coming months, ARTs will work with DON and Seattle Neighborhood Group to engage stakeholders. ARTS is currently waiting for more information about the private development adjacent to the Trail in order to determine next steps.

Sustainability and Environment

Jessyn Farrell, Director
Address: 700 5th Avenue, #1868, Seattle, WA, 98104
Mailing Address: PO Box 94729, Seattle, WA, 98124-4729
Phone: (206) 256-5158

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