The Seattle Department of Transportation had planned to have a permanent solution for a popular pathway running through Lowell Elementary by the end of November.
Now into February, progress is or isn’t being made, depending on whether the question is being directed at SDOT or Seattle Public Schools.
The pathway — East Roy Street right-of-way property owned by SDOT — has been closed since Sept. 2, the decision made due to chronic issues of discarded needles, used condoms and homeless campers.
SDOT organized two community meetings — one in October and another in early November — to take feedback from Lowell parents and neighbors about what permanent solutions could exist.
It was SDOT chief of staff Genesee Adkins who had initially set a deadline to have a plan of action by the end of November.
“We’re still in a little bit of a holding pattern,” Adkins told the Capitol Hill Times on Tuesday. “We’re trying to see if we can elevate the conversation a little bit with the school district, and we haven’t had great success with that to date.”
Adkins said the expectation was to bring in representatives from the Department of Education and Early Learning, who have a better rapport with Seattle Public Schools staff and board members. An option she wanted to explore was a shared-use agreement between SDOT and SPS to manage the pathway. That option was put out to SPS in November, she said, and included offers by the city to install new lighting and make other investments in the pathway.
While Adkins said she hasn’t heard from the school district, SPS spokesman Luke Duecy told the Capitol Hill Times later Tuesday the district has requested to start the process for a potential street vacation. A vacation of right of way by the city usually occurs with new development, requiring valuation of the property and determination that turning over the property will result in a public benefit.
Duecy states in an email to CHT that SPS will be awaiting a valuation of the property, to determine if the district has sufficient capital funds.
“Additionally, we are putting in cameras/lights/access control panels to increase security,” the email states. “The city believes that they will need to ‘lift’ the emergency closure during the ‘street vacation’ process (which require city council approval). This is at least a 6 month process per the city.”
Duecy tells the Capitol Hill Times that requests for more information sent to SPS director of facility operations Bruce Skowyra and Pegi McEvoy, assistant superintendent of operations, were declined.
A number of concerned parents, many with PTA, conducted a cleanup of the pathway near the end of August, where a dozen needles and several used condoms were found. Prior to the start of the school year, the school district also cut back vegetation overgrowth along the path, but the problem persisted even after.