in an administrative "Minor Historic Review," the City approved plans for the sidewalk on the east side of Church Street at the Blind School property from the corner of Mission Street to the Pringle Park driveway.
The sidewalk will be widened from five feet to eight, but the expansion will be to the west, and that will take a bite out of the curb strip with grass and trees. There are 14 sweet gum trees whose roots might be disturbed and the neighborhood's Land Use and Transportation Committee is concerned about this.
When the whole sidewalk and "greenway" compromise went down, it had seemed like any expansion of the walkways should be on the interior side of the sidewalk, on the east side facing the interior of the property. The expansion west into land that is already part of the public right-of-way doesn't seem like it honors the spirit of the agreement to enhance the walking connection along here. It seems cheap to use only City right-of-way. Maybe that's not how the participants understood things, but to an outsider this seemed like a concession and trade the Hospital was making with the neighborhood to enhance the walking conditions. And now the Hospital's not really making that trade and concession.
|Historic Stair Landing and Low Wall|
(via the google, 2012, while Howard Hall stood)
|Contested Plaque for the Hospital's Everson House|
(vis the google, 2012)
As satisfying as this might be as a "nuisance" for the Hospital, a NIMBY stick for a few more blows against a Goliathy, bull-in-a-china-shop not-very-nice neighbor, it's heading towards a really static notion of an historic district, something nearly fixed in amber. Would prohibiting a sign like this be a way to eliminate bike parking at the nearby Lord & Schryver museum? If we had managed to retain Howard Hall, would folks be upset if a new commercial use for that building required signage visible from the street?
Something makes me queasy about the reasons for the appeal, and it will be interesting to read the full Staff Report and appellant materials nearer the hearing. The Landmarks Commission already denied a request to insert backlit frosted glass blocks into the low stone wall - the stone wall across the street at the Bush House is meant to be the primary context for materials and appearance, I think. I worry sometimes that our approach to historic districts and historic places is less about preserving meaningful things from the past and taking them meaningfully into the future, than about making sure nothing changes. Sometimes it's building fences against time rather than bridges across time. (Certainly here there's an element of building fences against the Hospital's encroachment.)
The South Central Association of Neighbors meets Wednesday the 14th at 6:30 p.m. in the South Salem High School Library, 1910 Church St SE.
The Morningside Neighborhood Association also meets, and they'll be talking more about the developments proposed for the area of Kuebler, 27th, and Boone Road, adjacent to the I-5 interchange at Kuebler.
|Commercial at Madrona looking towards Fred Meyer|
Whatever they do, selling gas just seems like trouble here on the intersection.
It's already challenging for all users and further accommodating left turns across traffic seems like it would create more conflict sites along the road and sidewalk.
|Widening at Commercial and Madrona|
Fairview Traffic Impact Analysis
|Septenber 2015 Open House Boards|
But all this is about "improving" through-put for cars and car users, and not about increasing human mobility for all users, increasing numbers of whom we should hope do not need to choose to make drive-alone trips with cars. Even as we backfill with bike lanes and enhanced sidewalks, the widening projects make an even greater degradation in conditions for those not in cars.
We probably won't get there in this round, but there are opportunities to rethink this intersection that improve it for all users, not just privileging those in cars.
The Morningside Neighborhood Association meets at Pringle Creek Community Painters Hall, 3911 Village Center Drive SE on Wednesday the 14th at 6:30 PM.