The sudden closure of a short, wooded public path near Lowell Elementary did not go over smoothly with Capitol Hill neighbors.
After Lowell parents called on Seattle Public Schools to address discarded needles and condoms in the area, the Seattle Department of Transportation fenced off the short trail near E Roy and Federal Ave on September 2nd. One person recently wrote “Over-reaction!” on the closure notice. Many more complaints were lodged here.
SDOT is now planning a series of public meetings to figure out what comes next. The first meeting will be October 25th from 4-6 PM in the Lowell cafeteria. Another meeting will be scheduled for the first week of November. City officials have also met with members of the school’s PTA and hope to have a long-term solution in place by the end of the year.
UPDATE 10/7/2016: SDOT has announced the details of its second planned meeting on the path:
- October 25 – 4-6 pm Lowell Elementary School – Cafeteria – 1058 E Mercer St.
- November 3 – 6-8 pm 12th Avenue Arts – Pike Pine Room – 1620 12th Ave.
Lowell parent Suzanna Mak told CHS that the path should be permanently closed to the public. “I think school campuses should not have public pathways bisecting them. The City should be responsible for creating an alternative solution for pedestrians,” she said.
Mak said the recent “excrement attack” on the school playground may have been in retaliation for closing the path.
Lowell parents have said used needles, condoms, and human waste are a common site on the path that winds between the school building and its playground. While the PTA has documented needles found on the site this month, one neighbor told CHS there has not been an encampment in the area for several years.
Before announcing the public meetings, SDOT and representatives from the Department of Neighborhoods, and Seattle Police met with parents and school district officials last week “to discuss the issues surrounding the Lowell Elementary path” and work out a schedule for the public meetings.
Attempts to deal with Seattle’s heroin epidemic by clearing camps and street injection sites have been criticized by harm reduction advocates who are calling on the city to allow for safe consumption facilities.
In May, CHS wrote about the consumption site concept and how the program could come to Capitol Hill to provide addicts and users (mostly targeting users who inject) with low-threshold access to a supervised space to consume pre-obtained illicit drugs, clean equipment, emergency care in the case of overdoses, and referrals to healthcare and drug treatment services if desired by the user. Such sites were recently endorsed by a regional heroin task force.