Opposing sides of Capitol Hill path closure rant, collaborate to find solutions

The closure of a short public path near Lowell Elementary resulted in a split between parents and teachers supporting the closure and community members against it. People on both sides of the issue shared their thoughts, sometimes passionately, at a Tuesday meeting held by the Seattle Department of Transportation before brainstorming possible solutions.

Victoria Beach, playground monitor at Lowell, said she was offended by people who wanted to keep the path open and said they hadn’t seen any needles on the winding trail off E Roy between Federal and 11th. “One needle is enough. When kids show me dirty condoms, needles, clothing, a man they thought was dead, when I see the fright in them, I will walk around the world if that’s what it’s going to take,” Beach said. “Your sense of entitlement is sickening to me.”

Fifth grade teacher Laura Schulz also caused a bit of a stir presenting work from nine students who she said chose to draw pictures and write a few sentences supporting the closure. Schulz photocopied their comments and shared them at the meeting. Drawing kids into the debate didn’t sit well with many meeting attendees who showed up to voice their support for reopening the path.

SDOT closed the path in September after Lowell parents requested Seattle Public Schools address the safety issues they said the path caused near the elementary school.

A Federal Avenue resident of 38 years said she thinks kids have been “pretty much advised to keep their hands off anything weird like that anyway,” in reference to hypodermic needles. Rita Smith, who lives across from the entrance to the pathway, said she hasn’t seen people camping out there.

“This is not an infestation of homeless people,” she said. “… I’m not saying that the students’ safety isn’t a concern, but we don’t need to put all the eggs in that basket.”

Seattle Department of Transportation representative Genesee Adkins provided attendees with background on the closure ahead of the public comment opportunity. “We closed the pathway because it felt like we had an acute situation,” Adkins said. Many community members against the closure said they felt like they were left out of the decision.

Lowell parents have said used needles, condoms, and human waste are a common problem on the tree-covered path that crosses between the school building and its playground. While the PTA has documented needles found on the site, people living in the area say camping has not been an issue along the path.

Adkins has received a number of emails on the issue, and said common themes SDOT has identified include:

  • Protecting students at school should be the most important objective;
  • The path belongs to everyone, providing a critical link to Broadway;
  • Feeling unsafe when the pathway is open to the public;
  • Feeling unsafe when the pathway is closed, forcing people to use alternate routes;
  • Wanting to keep the pathway open, but make it safer.

The pathway, owned by the city of Seattle, bisects Lowell property.

“So it’s a complicated, sort of awkward situation,” Adkins said.

It is further complicated because public utility lines run under the path, making it more challenging to turn the property over to Seattle Public Schools.

Following the public comment period that grew especially heated at the end, the differing sides were asked to work together to brainstorm creative solutions.

Ideas raised Tuesday included making the pathway more visible by reducing vegetation and maintaining vegetation, increasing police presence, finding ways to encourage more pedestrian use of the path, opening the school playground and field open during the summer, adding lighting, and closing the path during school hours.

Another meeting with a similar format and opportunity to provide public comment is scheduled for 6 to 8 PM on November 3rd at 12th Ave Arts in the Pike Pine Room at 1620 12th Ave.

You can also email roystreet@seattle.gov with comments about the path closure.

SDOT hopes to have a decision on the closure by December.

Roy Street Right of Way Public Meetings

Subscribe and support CHS Contributors -- $1/$5/$10 per month

54 thoughts on “Opposing sides of Capitol Hill path closure rant, collaborate to find solutions

  1. There seems to be a real disconnect between those (mainly school employees and parents) who are saying that there has been a major problem with large numbers of needles, human waste, and other homeless paraphernalia…and those neighborhood residents who have not seen much of these things. This is an important point, because if the problem is relatively minor then the closure advocates and the City have over-reacted in a big way.

    I think the pathway should be re-opened, and at the same time a thorough sweep/cleaning of the area should be done, followed by regular (daily) inspection/cleaning by school maintenance staff (under an agreement between the school and City). Why wouldn’t this be a solution?

    • i would like to see more data about how dangerous this situation has been and over what time period. above, in the post, it says, “…the PTA has documented needles found on the site…,” and i’d like to see that data (that might have been presented yesterday). but it would help make a decision on how often needles are being found, how many, what the frequency is, etc. if this is just a case of adults overreacting/personal bias kicking in, then that helps shape the conversation.

      but i also agree that the path should be better maintained, have regular inspections/police checks and perhaps even close it off to school children. i like the idea of your solution and seems like a conversation such as this should have occurred prior to the closing of the path.

    • I’d also like more details about how often they’re finding needles, condoms, human waste, etc. Not because I don’t think they have, but because if occasionally finding a needle, or a condom, or human waste was grounds for closure of a public sidewalk every block in Capitol Hill would be cordoned off.

    • Bob,
      Principal Stump was there but never spoke to the group comprised of parents, teachers, neighbors, SDOT, SPD, Dept of Neighborhoods, and the Office of the Mayor.

      We heard from a handful of teachers who expressed concerns ranging from autistic students who might think feces were chocolate pudding, to students were “so cute” that they couldn’t help but be snatched up by bad hombres on the path, to worries for kids who might have to encounter dogs or street traffic (as though those things aren’t part of everyday life in a city).

      In short, to answer your question, the only reasons that what you proposed wouldn’t be the obvious solution are 1) the school either doesn’t have the staff or the interest in doing those daily sweeps, and would prefer to let the path go derelict for everyone forever rather than devise a compromise; and 2) secondarily, there is some ownership/jurisdictional agreement that must be worked out between SPS and the City of Seattle, which owns the ROW and is responsible for utility lines running below the path.

    • CapiCola, I’m sad you left out the story of the alarming and mysterious stranger who helped one of the kids retrieve a ball. (The mystery of the disturbing and mysterious stranger was short-lived since it was actually a parent of one of the Lowell students who was present at the meeting and happily claimed responsibility for this sinister act).

      • The website it’s missing critical data to make any decision unfortunately, you can’t link closing the path to the incidences described since 1) the timeline on as to the rate at which needles were accumulating is missing since there was just a single clean up, it could be that the clean up due to multiple years, and 2) items found on the play yard means a fence is being jumped, so it could be that the issue is the Aloha fence since it’s lower than the one on the path. Seems like the next step is to get those data points somehow, otherwise it’s all a bit hand wavey and the steps and it runs the risk of closing the path not solving the issue.

  2. This was a well attended meeting and despite being held at 4 PM – a time most convenient for school staff and parents – about half the room came in strongly opposed to the path closure. In the initial individual comment period it felt like the sides would have trouble agreeing on a course of action, but after breaking in to small groups it felt like a clear consensus emerged that the path should reopen.

    For people who would like to see the path reopen, I strongly encourage you to attend the next meeting and send email to roystreet@seattle.gov. Without community feedback the path will be closed permanently and Lowell School will be fenced off in its entirety (a move that will not make the area safer for residents or kids). With community feedback, I believe that the path will reopen and some modest redesign and renewed care for the area will make it safer for all.

  3. There is always unpleasantness and delights in urban life.
    If the children are instructed to STAY ON THE PATH and some landscaping to encourage that, I don’t see how much damage can be done.
    That path has always been one of the charms of my walks.

  4. This is a public right of way, and it should remain open to the public.

    The majority of the people who pay for Seattle infrastructure through their taxes are better served by keeping a right of way open to the public.

    The school has shown that the children do not to use this path at all, as they can use the “fish door” to access busses on Federal Ave E.

    I therefore suggest that if there is a non-solvable conflict between the children using the path and the rest of the public using the path, that the public’s right to use the path be restored while the children stop using it. The school staff and parents can surely supervise during the brief times they have to cross between the school and the play ground, and then the rest of the neighborhood, who lives here all year round and uses the path at all times of the day, can continue to use this public path.

    In addition, since the school is paid for and maintained by public money, I would suggest that the playground be opened to the public at all times when children are not using it. The whole Lowell campus is a creepy, ugly blight in a nice neighborhood, with its ugly fencing around the playground. This makes many normal people avoid walking by there, which makes it less safe.

    There are too few completely safe pedestrian paths around the city, and in keeping with the city’s Vision Zero program to reduce pedestrian casualties, we should re-open this car-free path to pedestrians.

  5. I repeat my offer that I made at the meeting, as a *long* time PTA parent myself: I am used to being asked for money and the sweat of my brow by the PTA, to improve schools in Seattle. My kids did not go to Lowell, but they grew up in the neighborhood, and this walkway has been part of our lives for the better part of 28 years. I am willing to do what it takes to reopen the path, and am willing to fight it’s permanent closure.

    I’m a neighbor. Lowell is part of the neighborhood. The Roy St path is a neighborhood resource. I guess what offends me most is that Lowell PTA didn’t feel enough a part of the neighborhood, that they thought to work with us towards a solution. I suspect they are being forced to now, but only after they got their unilateral desire pushed through behind closed doors. I thought the kids essays were manipulative, and Victoria Beach with her ” *Your* sense of entitlement” BS offensive.

    Now we are working at a disadvantage. Our input is being solicited *after the fact*. It may be harder to get the fence *removed* now that it is there, than it would have been to stop it in the first place… And I suspect that factored into the PTA’s decision to keep us in the dark until it was up.

    That said, I did come away from the meeting encouraged. I had some good talks with parents, and all of the working groups seemed to agree that having the path open (and perhaps the playground) open to the public outside school hours might be the middle ground we seek.

    There was even a fairly clever proposal from one of the other groups to build a pivoting double gate that could open the path, and block the playground while kids were in the classroom, and block the path and create the passage from school-to-playground during recess. I would certainly donate $$$ to a plan like that.

    • Yeah, when the neighbors talked afterward, they all thought that was a great idea, too. It would truly protect the kids while they were actively using the playground, and keep them from running out onto 11th, too. I would help raise funds for something like that. Simple, but effective.

    • Thanks Brian, the idea to build the pivot gates and the Pea patch along Federal were mine. I am happy to work with the city, school, PTA and SDOT to design/build this. It would be fairly inexpensive if we utilize the fence material already on the premises.

      This beautiful path needs to remain open because the S path is a tiny portion of parameter of the school and is not the cause of the issues that threaten the children. Better lighting and fence design, and closing the path only when children are in the play field or outside would help.

      I too would like to see the play field open to the public in summer or non-school hours. As someone noted, areas in use by the community are much safer than deserted, fenced off areas.

      The Pea-patch terracing could line Federal and be designed around the trees to provide a buffer from the play field fence and the street. It can be used as a teaching opportunity for the Lowell students as well. Neighbors tending gardens would deter campers or questionable individuals and could spot/remove any items before children find them.

      The new gate on 11th looks awfully permanent but will be effective in stopping only the law abiding neighbors, elderly and ADA people who depend on the path.

      I hope the city, SDOT and Lowell are honest that the decision to close the path has not yet been taken.

  6. The last time an article on this path closure appeared, many voiced opposition to solving a problem with drug users near school property by depriving the rest of the public, who aren’t doing anything wrong, of access to a public amenity.

    Recently in West Seattle, some similar decision making led to Metro deciding to remove some bus shelters because some bad actors were abusing them. This would have meant taking needed benches and shelter from the rain away from decent citizens rather than dealing with the jerks causing the problem.

    http://westseattleblog.com/2016/10/followup-metro-says-it-will-hit-pause-on-junction-bus-shelter-removal/

    West Seattleites pushed back against this decision, which like the Lowell path closure decision, was taken without input from most stakeholders. Metro has now tabled these plans.

    Input from the public, no matter how delayed by shady back-room dealings by the Lowell PTA, does matter. Please write roystreet@seattle.gov or attend a meeting.

  7. At the end of the article, one of the ideas mentioned was “closing the path during school hours”.

    Nothing else in the article suggested that there was any problem with the path being open during school hours. Certainly when I lived up that way I often passed through not only during school, but during recess. If that caused any problems, I was certainly not aware of them.

    If one solution is “to encourage more pedestrian use of the path”, then closing the path during school hours seems counter-productive.

  8. I attended this event, and I felt like there was a general overall takeaway from community members and many parents that the problem isn’t the pathway, but part of the larger problem of homelessness and drug use in Seattle. I also felt there was consensus that the neighbors would be OK with locking the gates during school hours if this was determined to make the area safer.

    Many of us neighbors talked afterward, brainstorming ideas to help make the overall area safer for everyone. None of us are “against” student safety, and we were saddened that it was presented that way, including in letters written by the children that were circulated at the meeting.

    The items mentioned were found all around the school, on the playground (inside the fence), and all around it. So the pathway isn’t the only problem, and closing it will not remove all the hazards. What the school needs is an architectural and secuirty review to add in additional safety measures (such as fencing, lighting and more security) while assuring it remains integrated into the neighborhood, one of the densest population areas in the city.

    Personally, I feel the parents’ pain about the whole matter. They have been trying in vain to get something done and been blocked by bureaucracy. So they took it in their own hands and contacted the media. Apparently, that’s what jolted SDOT, the city and the mayor’s office into action. How disappointing that’s the only way to get something done in this day and age.

    To the parents at Lowell, you need to remember that hapless drug users, the homeless and criminals are the problem — not the neighbors. We don’t want these people in this area either, and it’s a problem that we would all like to actively address.

    The pathway was built by a joint effort of neighbors, the city and the school district to solve a previous problem. Soo let’s try to solve what’s happening now together, and not get so focused on the pathway that we all miss the opportunity to make bigger changes together. I think you will be surprised by how much the people in this community want to help.

    • Nicely put. I have lived in this area for nearly 30 years. My kids went to Lowell way back. I’m happy to contribute.

      What’s getting people so irate is that with the general paving over of Seattle, it’s making green space more precious. Someone mentioned putting terraced p-patches along Federal. I’m up for helping with that. Also like the idea of opening the playfield during summer, and getting folks to scrub it before school starts back up.

    • Thank you Kathleen. I was in support of closing the path as a temporary precaution while other options could be figured out. I think closure was a reasonable position given the overall situation at the time. And though the approach by parents was not optimal, I don’t fault them for taking the steps they felt they had to in order to protect their kids. I don’t have kids at Lowell, but I would always put the safety of the kids first and I happily walk around the corner. Now that the “acute” risk is controlled, hopefully everyone can step back rationally to figure out good options – the community meeting being a good step. I encourage everyone to just drop the anger – your attitude is a choice. We all have a mutual interest in having a safe and useful area for the kids, school and community.

  9. My wife just told me that workers are installing what they described as a “permanent” fence and gate at Lowell right now ~11 AM Wed Oct 26.

    • Paul sounds like an entitled Lowell parent, who thinks he should be able to seize public property to because his spawn is taking up space at Lowell Elementary for a couple years. And the future be damned.

      How are Lowell Squatters-Rights parents any better than the homeless that allegedly use that space? Oh yeah: Won’t SOMEONE think of the CHILDREN???

    • kids and their parents did have a say @paul. in fact, they had the only say; hence the reason the path is now closed and for the rest of the neighborhood’s reaction.

      so come down off that cross you’re on and help the rest of the neighborhood come up with a solution that re-opens this path. otherwise your comments come off as YOU (and kids and their parents) being the entitled one.

    • Ditto what @Zeebleoop said.

      It is ironic to throw around words like “Entitled” when insisting that only you should be allowed “the” say in what happens to the path.

      And “TechBros”? Please. I was at that meeting, and aside from my 50yo self, if there were “Techies” there, I would say they were amongst the parents.

      And I am assuming you *weren’t* there @Paul, because if you were, you would have seen *finally* the chance for parents *and* neighbors to discuss this like adults.

      This is a neighborhood, and the path is a neighborhood resource. Nobody should get to have *the* say in what happens.

      If we as a neighborhood let this public Right-of-way go, we will *never* get it back.

  10. Any ideas thrown around about more enforcement – getting police walk thrus, having them actually arrest some drug users in the area? The people breaking the law and causing the problem should be the ones impacted rather than neighborhood people who just want a path to walk along.

    • People suggested this at the meeting (but you can also provide this feedback to roystreet@seattle.gov). Two police officers were in attendance at the early part of the meeting, but left before the end and didn’t play an active part as far as I’m aware.

    • @ Alex, thanks for the info… I think it says a lot that they ‘didn’t play an active part’. A key part of the equation is dissuading crime in the area and it will be hard to do that without the support of the police.

    • I agree although to be fair, the structure of the meeting didn’t give them an opportunity to say anything and they may have been listening and taking notes. In terms of discouraging crime, landscape/lighting/architecture design professionals are also important and were not represented at the meeting. The meeting was more like a Festivus for the school and neighborhood. The structure actually worked quite well given the attendance and time constraints, but it’s definitely not the only way you'[d want to give or receive information.

    • On the Hill,
      The two officers who attended sat at my table and told us they had in fact stepped up regular patrols on 11th and Federal Avenues. They were there mainly to listen to public opinion. One neighbor at my table had helped to set up the P-Patch on E. Thomas and shared her experience that while SPD can’t or won’t generally hurry to move transient people who aren’t endangering themselves or others, they will absolutely prioritize calls to 9-1-1 for people doing inappropriate things on school grounds–loitering, shooting up, drinking, camping, whatever.

      In any case, it sounded to me like the new patrols were too little too late. At the end of the meeting, another neighbor recalled a committee that had been formed by the City, the E. Precinct, and school before the 2015 school year to look at “crime prevention through environmental design.” Unfortunately, the effort petered out. It sounds like SPD would be a willing partner if that sort of effort were resuscitated.

    • Thanks CapiCola and Alex for the info. I hope they continue and step up their efforts and I’ll provide feedback to that effect.

  11. Leave it closed and keep the children safe. People can walk around the school. It really isn’t that far at all to walk around the block to get to Broadway. Sheesh!

    • If we really want to keep the children safe, we could just relocate Lowell to a building in another neighborhood. When they were renovating Stevens Elementary back in 1999-2001, the Stevens students (including my daughter) were located at McDonald Elementary in Wallingford.

      We need to think of the safety of the children after all, and Wallingford is a *way* safer neighborhood…. So close to Broadway is just too dangerous for naive young children, and the extra couple miles should be no problem for the parents… From the Meeting last night, it sounds like many might be coming in from Beacon Hill, so just stay on the freeway another couple stops.

      McDonald is also a contiguous property, so you might not have all the fun of a Land-Grab, but your kids probably won’t notice.

      If safety of the children is paramount, then my vote as a neighbor, is to put them (and their parents) out of harms way. Maybe the PTA can be better neighbors to the people that live there.

      Problem Solved.

      If Seattle needs Lowell for student space, I would rather it became a Middle School. Parents aren’t as uptight at middle schools.

    • As someone noted at the meeting, the pathway is only ADA space around here. The path was designed to be a safe, traffic-free route for the heavy flood of pedestrians in this area, including the elderly of which there are many since there is subsidized elderly housing on this part of the Hill, including a multi-story building on Mercer.

      The sidewalks on both Aloha and Mercer can’t accommodate wheelchairs as they are narrow, not in good shape and very steep, and it’s difficult for older people with walkers to navigate those sidwalks. Aloha is a very busy street with a lot of speeding cars since they repaved it a few years ago.

      I have an eight-month-old and three-year-old and I can attest that using the narrow, uneven sidewalk on Aloha while pushing a stroller and wrangling a toddler with cars whizzing by is not a great solution and impacts my safety and my kid’s safety, too. BTW, I have seen vagrants sleeping on that very sidewalk, too. It’s not just the pathway that’s at issue here.

      My kids may eventually go to Lowell. I’m absolutely happy to help find a solution to keep them safe even though I am not on the PTA.

  12. A lot of the arguments that the parents and teachers were using — for example, presence of needles, problems with dogs, kids doing unpredictable things — apply to the streets surrounding Lowell as well as the path. If you take their arguments to their logical conclusion (i.e. the need for absolute safety for the children), then perhaps the city should also close the streets surrounding Lowell–i.e. 11th between Mercer and Aloha, same with Federal way, and Mercer between Federal and 11th.

    As several commenters said here and at the meeting (yes I was there), it’s not just the path that’s the problem, and closing the path won’t solve the bigger problem of children’s safety.

  13. One additional thought I’d like to add:

    Those advocating “For the Kids” and permanent closure at the meeting, seem to agree that this was a relatively new problem (last few years maybe). I would point out that *any* problem that is new, can (and with school + neighborhood effort *will*) be solved in time.

    But if we lose this neighborhood resource (by vacation (not the fun kind) or quasi-permanent SDOT action) our chances of “getting it back” will be almost non-existent.

    A new status quo will be established that does *not* include our right of way. The teachers and parents, many of whom live outside the neighborhood and are not really stake-holders in the best-interest-of-the-hood, will be extremely reluctant to “give it back”, and the argument will be “but you’ve done without for so long”.

    The *only* way that path exists 20 years from now (perhaps long after our current homelessness crisis is over) is to make sure it continues to exist *today*.

    Green space, once lost, is rarely recovered.

  14. Funny, when CHS does their year end most commented stories that this issue will most likely be one of the top 5. The previous post on this story had just shy of 100 comments. Certainly interesting that so many people find this to be such an important issue… and how much of the viewpoints are as polarized as Trump v. Clinton. I guess that’s life in 2016.

  15. Open the path. As far as I’m concerned if the parents do not live in the neighborhood they should have no say in the matter. They can take their kids somewhere else.

  16. I lived across the street from the path for two years and along Roy St down to 10th you’d find clothing frequently, beer cans and dubious looking loiterers at the bottom of the path.

    It would be interesting to know if since putting up the fence if the rate of incidents changed at all, unfortunately the lowellpath.com website doesnt have a rate at which items were found –it could be an accumulation over a longer period of time since they list only one clean up — or if any were found after the fence went up.

    Also since items were found on the playground, which is fenced off, but accessible via Aloha, are people accessing the yard from there too? In which case just focusing on the path wouldn’t solve the problem.

    • Thanks for mentioning http://lowellpath.com. I hadn’t seen it.
      As you say, the playground is fenced off and locked most of the time. The fact that there are problems there and other places suggests that fences are not a good solution. The new permanent-looking temporary fence (like the old temporary-looking fence) still allows access to anyone willing to hop it, it just prevents access to law abiding citizens. While knowing if there have been incidents since the blockade was erected is interesting, a lack of incidents wouldn’t tell us anything other than the weather got colder and wetter at the same time as the fence went up.

  17. The temporary fence has been replaced with one that looks very much like a permanent one. Way to go, SDOT…..at a time when meetings are being held on this issue, you have sent a message that the outcome has already been determined.

  18. No question the school could have handled it better, and it’s hard to see the wisdom of involving the children in it, but jeezz cut the school some slack, it wouldn’t hurt to see it from their perspective a bit…

    A thankless job, likely hard to fill positions, some of the kids are clearly a handful and overall the school isn’t doing well. The last thing they need is to also worry about safety and the neighborhood pissed at them. Most folks earn at least double a teacher’s salary and if they found a hypodermic needle literally where they’re working, they’d throw a fit like you wouldn’t believe. I know I would.

  19. My daughter unfortunately found a needle with her friend at school, on school grounds. She was in first grade. They told the teacher and she threw it away. I know this happened because she told me before this was an issue, before she knew what a needle was.

    The bigger issue is this. The path intersects the playground. You all sound like people in control of themselves. But unfortunately not all those who use the path are.

    This is not the same as what happens on the streets, in the real world. In the real world kids are with their grownups. At school they are the responsibility of the teachers and supervisors. It is so difficult to insure their safety when the public is walking through. Not you all, but so many that are struggling with other issues.

    I myself have witnessed individuals walking through who were aggressive, intoxicated and barely managing to cling onto reality. I don’t see how walking right through the children playing can be avoided. With our city more populated than ever, I don’t see the numbers of suffering with mental illness and other problems diminishing. In fact it may get worse.

    Now seems the time to act to prevent something really bad from happening.

    Unfortunately Lowell’s playground, and the often congested with children area of it where it intersects near the building with the public path, is not a one-on-one supervision situation, like it would be perhaps outside school hours for children and families, and it leaves room for so many horrible variables.

    Maybe you didn’t know but Lowell is the area school for all the medically fragile young children; hence the wide hallways, special education rooms, wheelchairs, protective head ware, mobility and communication devices you see when walking by.

    We also are the only elementary school in Seattle that your child would attend if he or she was vision impaired or blind.

    So you can imagine the things that the Lowell community must be aware of and trained to deal with on a daily basis with these special kids needs, including gran-mal seizures and many other important safety protocols.

    I have seen animated pedestrians that have walked through that have needed to be de-escalated before being around children. This seems so unsafe and more than any amazing teachers or dedicated neighborhood volunteers should or could solve.

    Maybe this will help you understand the problem a little bit better.

    I would appreciate a response to this from someone who is for the path staying open.

    Thanks.

    • Hi @Kate,

      I don’t doubt that needles will occasionally be found in areas open to the public. But I would like to address a couple things in your post, because frankly, there seems to be there seems to be two unrelated points you are trying to make: the presence of needles, and the presence of aggressive people while students are present.

      We neighbors have been asking for actual data on the needle problem. How often, where, and how do the needle appearances fluctuate with time of year. So far it has not been forthcoming. If a bunch of needles show up after a long, warm, summer of an abandoned play area, that is one thing easily addressed by a work party (looking for volunteers? Try reaching out to us). It is also a problem that every other Seattle school is dealing with, for the same reason. Are needles being found in the actual play area, or just the path? If the play area, I would argue this is not a problem that will be solved with path closure. As we all know, access to the play area is available via the long stretch of Federal and along the North where the often overgrown parking lot is (another work party target?). If this is strictly a “Path” issue, then the benefit of the doubt should be solutions that keep the *children* out of the Public space, not the Public out of the Public space. This is a heavily used public resource, and you can count on a long fight if your only solution is taking what is not yours to take. Especially in the fashion done so far.

      Is there really a problem with aggressive people approaching the children? I am way more skeptical about this, and would also expect verifiable documentation in the form of police reports etc. I know as a long time SPS parent, that school lockdowns *do* occur. I believe they happened at Stevens, Washington Middle School and Garfield while I was a parent of students there. Are these lockdowns more common at Lowell? Any hard data to back up your concerns? Any proof that the S-Path is the lone “Approach Vector” for threatening people?

      My fear, and my hunch, is that Lowell wants the ROW to extend and solidify its borders, and this is the strategy they have chosen. Because who is going to defend exposing children to danger? However, all of the suggestions to improve the situation *short* of path closure have come from the neighbors, who have been called Entitled, Millennial, Tech-Bros, and by extension, people who don’t care about the safety of children.

      Work with us. We have been here before you were a Lowell Parent, and will be here long after your kid moves on to Washington MS, SASS, SGS or the NW School. You are proposing a permanent change to address what really may be a temporary problem, and you won’t be around to care what it does to *our* neighborhood.

      As long as closure is the only solution you are willing to entertain, you will be opposed by the majority of your neighbors. If you succeed in getting permanent closure, you will seriously damage your relationship with your neighbors. As a Stevens Elementary parent, I can assure you that neighbors can be a lucrative fundraising resource, as long as you are on good terms. Work *with* us to preserve this valued neighborhood resource, and we will be good neighbors in return.

  20. Lots of people seem to be missing the facts about what was found during one cleanup or has been deposited and then found throughout the day. They are also missing some of the other events that have contributed to this such as the request for something to be done having been going on for a year and verbal abuse of children. Here are some facts about what has been found and stories about other events that have occurred.

    http://lowellpath.com/