Farmers Market “doable” at new Light Rail Station – more from the Sound Transit forum — UPDATE: View Sound Transit’s slides

Capitol Hill residents gathered in the dimly lit Century Ballroom Tuesday evening for the 3rd quarterly meeting on the new underground Light Rail station coming to Capitol Hill. We gave you the meat of the Transit Oriented Development issue yesterday, and last night’s meeting only added to the growing mass of information by tacking on parking and the Nagle Extension to the list of issues.

However, progress was made. ST announced that after an initial assessment, it supports long term use of the Nagle Extension for the Farmer’s Market. The planned continuation of Nagle Pl. will bisect the station property, creating a “green”, pedestrian focused street with ideally minimal car usage. A rough mock-up of the design created room for 45 vendor spaces, despite a 50-vendor request from the market, and a growing amount of sellers and buyers. However, ST representative Ron Endlich submitted the possibility of it spreading out onto Denny Way, closing the section of the street for a few hours every Sunday. “It’s great news, but there is more work to be done,” said Endlich.

Audience reaction was generally positive, but the proposal left some wanting more: What about when the market isn’t in session? How can this be a long term space that outlasts the organic food trend and creates a Pike Place type universal market? Can another street be added off of Broadway and connect to the Nagle Extension? Parking? Traffic? Inevitably, the concept of putting too much in the space was thrown in as well. Endlich noted ideas, and added “Nothing that we’re looking will preclude those ideas.”

Intertwined with the Nagle Extension issue is the issue of parking. The current policy held by ST is “limited underground parking for site tenants and retail customers” with no commuter parking or commercial parking. Many in the audience were satisfied with the policies, but a conflict arose between the ideals of Cap Hill residents and Cap Hill business owners. One audience member wanted even fewer parking spaces: a “Significant change from the status quo on parking spaces.” Another pointed out a lack of bike parking spaces (ST estimated 50 spot racks outside of stations), accommodation for scooters and mopeds, and an overall lack of need for parking on Capitol Hill. However, there was also the argument for meeting city parking code, developer attractiveness, and consumer attractiveness for businesses: commerce is hurt by the “perception” of no parking on Capitol Hill. “There’s not a parking capacity problem, but definitely a parking problem,” an audience member said.

View Sound Transit’s Presentation

ST is still deep in the planning phase of the project, and will continue to take suggestions and input from the community at another meeting in January. More information about the Capitol Hill Light Rail Station can be found here.

6 thoughts on “Farmers Market “doable” at new Light Rail Station – more from the Sound Transit forum — UPDATE: View Sound Transit’s slides

  1. The Sunday Farmer’s Market is a great addition to our neighborhood, and I fully support it. I hope that it will turn out to be feasible to site it on the Nagle Place extension. But is the idea that the market would be open more than the current 4 hours on Sunday? Even open on a daily basis? If so, there are problems…most of the vendors operate at other Seattle markets the other days of the week. And I doubt that more frequent market openings could be supported economically. The Market is quite busy for 4 hours on a Sunday, but it would be relatively dead if it were open more hours.

    So, if it is eventually operating on Nagle, presumably on a limited basis, it will be very important to plan/design the street so that it is useful/active when the Market isn’t there. And of course the residents of the condos/apartments will need to be reassured that it won’t be noisy and disruptive to their private spaces above the street.

  2. I went to the meeting (my first for this process), and came away with only a good impression of how things are progressing. ST staff do seem to listen to community ideas, and seem willing to think progressively. We need to keep pushing them so they have the political “cover” to implement some of the more progressive ideas.

    What about Nagle south of the site along the park? ST could be pushed to partner with SDOT to look at making it a pedestrian corridor.
    Why should we limit the potential of the Nagle extension as a public space? 4-8 hrs. a week of formal use does seem like it should be expanded.
    Why are there spots for only 50 bicycles? (though I think that was just at one station entrance). Etc.

    As I left it seemed like the conversation was leaning towards pedestrian access to the station. I don’t know how that conversation went, but it is VERY important that pedestrian improvements leading to the station be planned (if they have not already). A 1/2 mile radius needs to be drawn, and pedestrian access corridors understood. Improvements to safety and accessibility should be designed/implemented in these corridors.

    The community input was thoughtful and informed. The debate seemed to be between progressive and more progressive – way to go Cap Hill!

  3. Granted I’m not a business owner, but I feel like Capitol Hill commerce being “hurt” by the perception of no parking is more than made up for by the dense, pedestrian, and transit friendly access to busineses. I can tell you I pay for services on Capitol Hill for the very reason that I don’t need a car to get around there. For every person who doesn’t come to Capitol Hill because of parking, I can probably show you 10 that stay here because they can bike/walk/transit around.

  4. An observation about these meetings.

    It seems to me that community input is really vital. At each meeting many issues are raised from the floor that seem not to have been on the agenda of the highly paid staff of Sound Transit. And they get a little curt about some of the questions as if to reply how do you get off telling us that. It is interesting. I think they do not understand the high quality of education and professional experience in the room, often, engineers, architects, planners, contractors, skilled activists, housing experts and on down a long list.

    From the meeting:

    1. Much better planning for bike – spaces and allow for scooters and mopeds.

    2. The start of a conversation about sidewalks and pedestrian issues who will walk to the station. They did not like that question or two, cause, they had no plan I would bet.

    3. Tons of discussion about the Nagle space and the Farmers market, ranging from enlarging the concept to a much bigger market to other uses and traffic on the strip. Good conversation, but, they seemed intent on just talking Farmers Market, which is the easy part. In Seattle the markets have worked, there is a management non profit, staff, funding and obvious lobbying talent. If early on the Nagle extension is a done deal, and one used is designated, that shapes all other uses. Need much more discussion and input on this one.

    4. Parking issues were a focus and it seemed the room was saying – who cares – walk and use bikes…. except a couple of guys from the C. Hill Chamber who did not speak but reacted at some comments, since it is a major concern for them. Influential shadows can be a problem. In all fairness, Sound is going to build parking, for who and where is the question. But it is not for users of light rail. Good audience suggestion was an overlay assesment of on the Hill of parking, where, what, so a better decision could be made.

    5. Community activists need to meet and combine-refine-define some ideas into cogent written form to press forward with them. A few verbals at a meeting will be politely ignored by most large bureauacrieces, and this is a giant, getting bigger every day, and funded with mission from a public vote.

    There were tons of people observing who said nothing, which is interesting. You know they have opinions, their own or the agencies they work for.

    Good meeting.

    Mike

  5. It was also mentioned by John Howell of the Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance that Capitol Hill had the highest rate of walkers to the Farmers Market at 70%! Add in transit and biking and the people driving is probably 20% at most. I can’t imagine it being much different for many of the businesses on Capitol Hill and I’m sure the driving rate will decrease even more as more transit options arrive and the area continues to get denser.

    I agree that building additional commercial parking is a huge waste of resources and doesn’t align very well with this neighborhood’s values.

  6. I wasn’t able to make it to this meeting, so thanks all for posting your observations and impressions. A couple of follow-up questions:

    2) No mention of the ped master and how it relates to the station?? I seem to recall that a number of intersections on Broadway were prioritized. Too much to ask that some of the efforts related to the light rail station achieve the goals/ambitions of the ped master plan? Sure would be nice…

    3) I agree that Nagle Pl needs a lot of consideration beyond the Farmer’s Market. It should not become a closed up waste-land between weekend markets.

    4) Parking? Argh!! This was a TOD meeting right? Perhaps some parking for the future residents, but for the businesses in the area? Come on… There seems to be a failure to conceive of a time when the light rail will not only be whisking people from the Hill to the airport or downtown, but also reciprocating and bringing lots of people to Broadway. Not to mention the streetcar. If anything, they should be considering removing parking to widen the sidewalks for the throngs of people =)