A round-up of news and announcements we don’t want to get lost in the fast-churning news cycle!
Seattle Public Library Summer of Learning + Branches Reopen
This week, The Seattle Public Library (SPL) reopened the doors of the Central Library, as well as several branches so crucial to people in the South End: the Columbia Branch in Columbia City, the International District/Chinatown Branch, and the South Park Branch. All of these libraries reopened this week, allowing patrons once again to browse the shelves, use Wi-Fi, place holds, speak with librarians, or sit and read the latest newspapers and magazines. In addition, the library system has revised opening-hour procedures and will no longer close for a cleaning/sanitization break mid-day. You can find all library hours online at SPL.org. Library patrons must still practice physical distancing and wear masks at all SPL branches.
On a small sliver of land in South Park along the Duwamish River, there once sat eight affordable houses. Now only five remain. Over the past few months, the new owners of these properties, National Products Inc. (commonly known as Ram Mounts or NPI), have begun demolishing these cottage-style houses.
Ram Mounts purchased the lots — known as the South Park triangle — through a shell company in 2019 for $2.5 million. The company is a plastics manufacturer that owns multiple warehouses and facilities on the block across the street to the south of the triangle. It hopes to replace the houses with a “park-like setting, with a noise abatement wall” to serve as a buffer between its facilities and the rest of the neighborhood. The company also plans on using the adjacent right-of-way for more parking.
However, some residents fear that Ram Mounts is simply using this new purchase to continue to expand their footprint in the area. Jennifer Scarlett, a neighbor who lives one block away from the triangle, sees the recent purchase and demolitions as part of a larger pattern of industrial expansion. “Yeah, they’ve already expanded twice … they’re an industrial company, they’re not on industrial zoning, and they keep expanding,” said Scarlett.
King County is calling on residents living in urban areas in unincorporated King County (including many areas of South King County) to apply to be on an ambitious new participatory budgeting committee that will have the decision-making power for millions of dollars worth of infrastructure and community development projects.
“This is something [King County has] been looking at since 2016 — how to get our community involved in some sort of participatory budgeting process,” said Gloria Briggs, the King County community investment committee coordinator, in an interview with the Emerald. “And so we’re here now and it’s a really great opportunity. I’m really excited to get community members on our committee and to get them actively engaged in this process. The [participatory budget] process, within itself, has a lot of positive impacts for our community.”
Organizer, promoter, entrepreneur, computer scientist, father, and community gardener — Chukundi Salisbury has amassed several titles since moving to Seattle as a 5-year-old boy in 1975. He’s looking to add at least one more come November: state representative for Washington’s 37th Legislative District.
For 25 years, voters who live in King County’s 12 unincorporated areas that do not have their own police departments have seen their already-small power over who enforces the laws in their communities dwindle. Since the position of King County sheriff became an elected one in 1996, more and more people have moved to cities that have their own police departments. Today, just 11% of voters live in unincorporated King County.