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May QACC Meeting addresses Earth Day/Arbor Day concerns; letters to SDOT

May 6th, 2011 by Jesus Chavez

Appropriate to the recent “green” holidays, the May Queen Anne Community Council meeting dedicated much of its time to guests speaking on behalf of trees and forests last Wednesday night.

Kay Napton, a member of the Seattle Planning Commission and FOLKpark, spoke on the need of FOLKpark to raise money to fund their $1.5 million project.  The amount raised from grants, about $850,000, falls well short, said Napton. She asked the QACC to help broaden FOLKparks breadth of contacts, such as leaders in the community and environmental groups, that can help raise the remaining funds needed to renovate Lower Kinnear Park.

Plant ecologist Michael Yadrick spoke about the Green Seattle Partnership and their efforts to enhance the tree canopy across the city. He said the organization was six years into its 20-year plan to reforest 2,500 acres, which include the Northeast, Southwest and Kinnear Park Greenbelts. Much of the work is done through volunteers, and Yadrick said Green Seattle Partnership will be looking to engage and recruit citizens in the area to be involved in the reforestation process.

Queen Anne resident Judy Leshner spoke about her development of Queen Anne tree tours based in part on the work of Arthur Lee Jacobson and his book “Trees of Seattle.” Leshner has created five self-guided Queen Anne tree tours to date, but still needs to finalize the tours by verifying some of the information with an arborist.

“I wanted to come up with something that was of interest and use to the Queen Anne community,” said Leshner. “As a former school teacher, I thought would be interesting to school children … and to those in the community and outside, who may go to businesses once they’re here.”

Greater Queen Anne Chamber of Commerce Director of Marketing Mary Chapman said she was interested in putting Leshner’s tree tours on her organization’s upcoming “Visit Queen Anne” website. She was also given ideas by council members on grants and city and organizational contacts.

Apart from the Earth Day and Arbor Day concerns, the transportation committee report headed by committee chair Glenn Avery discussed two letters addressed to SDOT and other interested parties that was passed in a vote at last week’s transportation committee meeting. Both letters were also passed by the council.

The first letter stated several points, including: QACC’s approval of SDOT’s alternative 5 for West Mercer Place; that the project be done this year; that the BAT lane south of West Mercer Place on Elliot Avenue West be converted to general traffic; and that SDOT conduct studies when finished extending the turn lanes on Elliott Avenue West to find out whether the desired results were achieved.

The second letter addressed West Mercer Place and the Mercer West Project more generally. It asked for comprehensive planning for pedestrian safety and movement throughout the Mercer/Roy corridor, as well as planning for parking requirements to sustain area businesses; the incorporation of crosswalks and traffic lights at Fourth Avenue West and Mercer Street and other corners where needed; three lanes each way on Mercer Street under the Aurora Avenue North underpass; the exclusion of in-lane bus stops on Mercer Street unless there are additional unblocked lanes; no construction to take place while the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement, including the Viaduct demolition, is underway; and comprehensive review of the project when it’s finished to find out whether it’s working or if it needs changes.

In addition, another “stronger” letter specifically addressing parking in Uptown with respect to the Mercer West Project will be written.

Councilmember Kirk Robbins also spoke about the possibility of Lake City’s temporary tent city moving to one of two sites in the Magnolia/Queen Anne area. The mayor convened a panel that picked seven possible sites for a permanent tent city, said Robbins, including one at the West Yard down on the waterfront and another on a Seattle City Light site in the West Dravus Street area of Magnolia. All of these sites are “back on the table,” and the evaluation process by the Seattle City Council was extended into July, said Robbins. QACC Chair Ellen Monrad said that they will continue to monitor the city’s decision making on the permanent tent city, and council members floated the idea of writing a letter.

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QACC transportation committee votes to endorse SDOT’s alternative 5 for West Mercer Place

April 29th, 2011 by Jesus Chavez

The Queen Anne Community Council transportation committee voted to endorse SDOT’s alternative 5 to improve traffic flow on Elliot Avenue West and West Mercer Place last night at a particularly packed committee meeting.

The vote to endorse the alternative that would extend the two left-turn lanes on Elliott Avenue West before West Mercer Place came after much debate between councilmembers and West Mercer Place residents. The endorsement letter will be presented at the QACC meeting next Wednesday for final approval, after which it will be sent to SDOT and other appropriate parties.

Alternative 5, which by SDOT’s estimates is much cheaper than the other alternatives and can boast the most improvement on travel time reduction, has also recently been supported by the Port of Seattle, according to Transportation Committee Chair Glenn Avery. The five alternatives were presented at an open house put on by SDOT in mid-March.

The four elements in the letter endorsing Alternative 5 are: extending the turn pocket on Elliott; eliminating the Business Access and Transit (BAT) lane south of West Mercer Place; restating the position of the QACC for a reconsideration of the Nickerson road diet; and consideration of pedestrian safety.

Queen Anne Community Council President Ellen Monrad said she was told that, if approved, SDOT would implement the project soon and would likely be working on it this year.

A second letter regarding the addition of traffic lights and pedestrian crossing along West Mercer Place was also voted on and approved by the committee. The three elements of the letter include: pedestrian safety in the Mercer/Roy Corridor; additional crosswalks and traffic lights on West Mercer Street at Fourth and Fifth Avenue West; and the addition of sidewalks if SDOT performs any projects on West Mercer Place.

Since the Nickerson Street road diet, and with the coming changes from the Mercer West Project and the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program, increased freight traffic through the neighborhood along West Mercer Place has been a growing concern to residents.

The wording and contents of the letter endorsing the alternative came before the vote, with some residents wanting to add more mention of neighborhood preservation. Mike Warren and other councilmembers floated the idea of a separate committee of residents, the Queen Anne Community Council and the Uptown Alliance with funding from a Small and Simple grant to comprehensively address neighborhood preservation.

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QACC President sends letters to mayor, SDOT on West Mercer Place concerns

February 7th, 2011 by Jesus Chavez

In response to the numerous inquiries and complaints of West Mercer Place residents, most recently at the February 2 Queen Anne Community Council meeting, the board has written and sent two letters to city officials, according to an e-mail sent by QACC Chair Ellen Monrad.

The first letter, addressed to Mayor McGinn, was sent to the Mayor, the Seattle City Council and Director of the Seattle Department of Transportation Peter Hahn. It requests a comprehensive traffic plan for Queen Anne that takes into consideration the concerns over West Mercer and West Mercer Place. The second letter asks SDOT to present their plans on the West Mercer Place Project in a public forum.

From the QACC letter to Mayor McGinn:

Dear Mayor McGinn;

In several appearances before the Queen Anne Community Council and its committees, numerous residents of the West Mercer Place neighborhood have expressed their many concerns regarding potential changes to that street.

Mobility and safety are priorities for the area and must take into account traffic flow, sidewalk conditions, parking and ingress and egress to buildings. Mercer carries more traffic than most east-west streets in the area and serves as an important link between major highways, the urban village, west Queen Anne and Magnolia. It also is the center of a large, thriving residential area. We ask that the needs of the residents be heard in the city’s planning.

The Queen Anne Community Council has asked that a comprehensive traffic plan be developed and stands y that request. The need is stronger than ever with the Viaduct replacement Project underway. Already West Mercer Place neighbors report an increase in truck traffic as vehicles re pushed off a dieted Nickerson. The choking of Dexter will push even more traffic through Mercer. Out streets need to work and to work in conjunction with one another so that one neighborhood will not bear the brunt of the SR99 project.

As SDOT proceeds with the Mercer projects, especially those affecting West Mercer and West Mercer Place, we ask that the neighbors’ concerns be fully considered. We urge SDOT to schedule public events to inform those affected of proposed designs, to respond to their questions and to hear their concerns.

Sincerely,

Ellen Monrad
Chair, QACC

From the QACC letter to SDOT:

Dear Mr. Hahn;

Many West Mercer Place resident have attended the Queen Anne Community Council’s Transportation Committee meeting, as well as, our more recent QACC Board meeting.

There is no shortage of rumors and speculation as to what the project through their neighborhood will include. The neighbors have many concerns and questions that we are unable to answer. Their questions and concerns need to be heard.

Therefore, we ask that SDOT host a presentation of the West Mercer Place Project preliminary design as soon as it is available at a convenient location such as the Seattle Center. Public notice should be provided to businesses and residents in the area.

We look forward to hearing back from you as to the date and location.

Sincerely,

Ellen Monrad,
Chair, QACC

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