by Caroline Guzman
Hilltop Park is a small recreational space located nearby SeaTac Airport in the City of Burien. The neighborhood has been struggling with noise pollution, lack of green spaces, and lack of employment for People of Color. The mayor of Burien, Jimmy Matta, has joined the Port of Seattle in partnership with the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR), EarthCorps, Forterra, and Partner in Employment (PIE) to restore the habitat of Hilltop Park and support green jobs in historically underserved airport communities.
“When it comes to the environment, this is a first for People of Color,” said Matta at a recent media and partner tour of the park to learn about the improvements and restoration work. “This community is 42% People of Color, 25% Latino, and we’re 54,000 residents. So, the partnerships are here not because they were forced, but it’s because they’re excited to get involved.” The new restoration habitat will plant 270 trees and remove 60,000 square feet of invasive plants by this fall with the help of EarthCorps. Additionally, the proposal will provide green jobs to the local youth through PIE. The trees planted at the park will help sequester carbon produced by the airplanes, meaning more clean air for passive enjoyment.
Port of Seattle Commissioner Peter Steinbrueck spoke about pushing for more funds, an endowment of $10 million, to advance this and similar projects around the city. “The airport communities are disproportionately affected. We know all the disparities that happen here, and this is where we can make a difference,” said Steinbrueck.
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