Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Federation Newsletter for February 2008

Meeting Highlights - January 24, 2008 Meeting

These highlights are based on the editor's notes --- they are not official minutes)

President's Report:

The Federation sent letters to government officials after our November meeting:

• to support funding for the Central Area Senior Center;

• to support continued funding for the Wallingford Senior Center;

• to ask the City Council to follow its established policies and standards for rezones rather than make a "legislative" change to the Northgate Overlay over a wide area in order to accommodate a Safeway store at a precise location in Pinehurst;

• to ask election officials to require readable type in the Notice of Elections published in Seattle newspapers rather than continue using tiny print that requires a magnifying class to read;

• to ask the Port of Seattle to return Christmas trees to the Sea-Tac Airport;

• to call for an independent staff responsible to the Port Commission in light of the performance audit by the State Auditor;

• to support HB 1551 before the 2008 legislature allowing public funding for local political campaigns .

Seattle Port Commission:

Geof Logan (Fremont) spoke at the Port Commission hearing on January 8th on the performance audit of the Port by the State Auditor finding gross irregularities. He supported a recommendation that the Port Commission have staff to ensure that it gets accurate, objective and verifiable information. Currently the Port Commission hires two people: its own clerk and the Executive Director. The Executive Director hires and fires all others and filters all information going to the Commission. As shown by the Audit, the Port's activities are so vast that the Commission needs staff, directly responsible to it, in order to get an independent perspective; to verify reports; to follow-up on whistleblower type complaints; and to get information that the Executive Director may deem unimportant, overlook, secrete, or not know.

First United Methodist Church:

Marietta Foubert (Ballard) has been monitoring the efforts to preserve the historic First Methodist Church Sanctuary Building at 811 5th Avenue. Daniels Development Company has replaced Nitze-Stagen as the developer; and the Rainier Club has withdrawn its participation. The new developer is proposing departures from the City's guidelines and the earlier Master Use Permit.

Northgate Overlay/Pinehurst Update:

Rick Barrett (Haller Lake) and David Miller (Maple Leaf) have been engaged with what is commonly known as 'the Pinehurst Safeway rezone'. The City Council passed the Northgate Overlay zoning code amendments proposed by the City's Department of Planning and Development as Council Bill 116066. [See President's Report]. This set a bad precedent; other property owners may seek to take advantage of it. The affected community groups are conferring on an appropriate response. More at our February meeting.

Arboretum Foundation Plan for SR 520:

Jorgen Bader (Roosevelt) reports that following up on a suggestion by the tunnel consultant in the SR 520 mediation, the Arboretum Foundation has proposed an option that would place State Route 520 below grade from an east portal at Foster Island to a west portal near the parking lot of the Museum of History and Industry. The current Arboretum Interchange would be replaced by on and off ramps at the MOHAI site, which ramps would merge with the main on and off ramps to Montlake Boulevard East. The section through the Arboretum would be tunneled, bermed, or covered. The option would reunite the Arboretum, reduce noise, restore the waterfront trail, remove the ramps to nowhere, and protect bird and fish habitat, among other advantages.
Motion passed to send a letter to the City Council requesting that the Parks Committee invite the Arboretum Foundation to make a presentation on its proposal.

Thornton Creek Area Flooding:

Renee Barton (Meadowbrook) reports that to relieve chronic flooding in Meadowbrook, Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) worked up a program that would put in a large wetland detention area west of Meadowbrook pond; replace a series of culverts on Thornton Creek and Kramer Creek, a tributary; and clean storm drains. In November, SPU told the Meadowbrook Community Council it had cut back its project to cleaning the existing system. On December 3rd, the creeks flooded, Nathan Hale High School closed, NE 110th St. and 35th Ave NE were barricaded with police standing guard; and sewerage bubbled up in the basements of homes. The Mayor proposes to reinstate part of the program. Motion passed to write to City officials asking that the full program be funded and implemented.

Synthetic Turf:

Kris Fuller (Wallingford) and Rick Barrett (Haller Lake) say that Seattle Parks Department and School Districts have been engaged in an aggressive effort to replace natural grass with ‘synthetic turf’, the bureaucratic euphonism for what is sometimes called ‘plastic grass’, (a term that is not allowed in public meetings held by the City). Critics of this relatively new policy have usually been denigrated andcharacterized as zanies or luddites, but new evidence of harmful effects are emerging, including increased injuries to sports participants and long-term health consequences. Seattle government has so far turned a deaf ear to these concerns but may be forced to consider them if other municipalities take notice.
The New York Times, January 23rd, carried an article captioned [New York] "City Parks Officials seek Safety Review of Synthetic Surfaces." NYC has 77 synthetic fields made of recycled rubber. Its Parks Department Has now suspended the use of rubber infill synthetic turf in parks. According to the article, "Critics said synthetic material creates 'heat islands' in the summer because the surface absorbs sunlight and emits heat...” Researchers have also found that the rubber contains polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH)s - that may be carcinogenic." Some Synthetic Turf fields may also be nylon, and although not mentioned in the NYT, some even contain recycled Nike sports shoes, with all the above noted toxins plus microbes, bacteria and fungus.
For info on “Nike Grind” fields:
And for more technical and medical information:

Magnuson Park:

Four North East Seattle Community Councils wrote to the City Council objecting to the proposed 20 year lease of Hanger 27 to Arena Sports LLC (a for-profit corporation) for thirty years at below market rents. Hanger 27 is now used for a variety of mixed-use community activities and events. No public process preceded the proposed agreement. Discussion continued to our February meeting.

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