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Lowell Elementary S Path remains ‘temporarily closed’ as officials weigh options

img_9619A self-imposed deadline for Seattle Department of Transportation officials to sort out a plan with Seattle Public Schools for what happens next to the “S Path,” the curving public sidewalk between Federal and 11th Ave E that has been fenced off since the start of adjacent Lowell Elementary’s school year, has come and gone.

SDOT’s Genesee Adkins, chief of staff for the department, tells CHS that city representative have met with schools officials and heard the district’s requirements for reopening the route to the public right of way:

We met with the school district a little more than a week ago to understand what they want to do going forward. Now we’re working internally at the city to see how quickly we can make some of those options happen on the ground. I know I’m not giving you too much specificity, but we’re still in flux at this moment. We had hoped to have a long-term solution identified by the end of November, and I don’t think we’ll be too far off of that, but I’m afraid we’re not quite there yet today.

CHS reached out to the school district to learn more about its requirements. A SPS spokesperson said district representatives met on Friday to discuss proposals but we haven’t yet heard back on specifics. Clearly, they have bigger issues to sort out.

Lowell Elementary serves children from across Central Seattle and is home to the district’s program for medically fragile students. Parents said they have been cleaning up garbage and dangerous needles from addicts and homeless campers left along the path for months. Adkins said that the situation had reached an “acute” level and the closure to start the school year was the only prudent course of action to take while longer term solutions were addressed.

City officials met with community members and school parents this fall to hear from some their concerns about the path’s dangers and other’s their desire to restore the public route near the school.

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12 thoughts on “Lowell Elementary S Path remains ‘temporarily closed’ as officials weigh options

  1. I think this will get sorted out eventually. But, it’s a shame the way the school has handled it. I think the neighborhood has gone from viewing them as a member of the community to an entity that puts itself above what is good for the community. That opinion will last for awhile.

    • Yeah, screw those kids! Who do they think they are?! They should deal with crackhead needles like the rest of us! Who are they to make me walk a block extra? I hate walking.

    • @jeffrey roberts

      so we should deny an entire neighborhood the use of a public walkway because entitled parents don’t think controlling their off-spring is their job? how about just telling the kids not to go down the path and let adults make up their own minds about where to walk in public?

      or are you saying that children are the one and only concern in this city and that the needs of the rest of the neighborhood should be discounted? because that’s what happened here. a path was closed of because parents and school administrators couldn’t be bothered to instruct children to not interact with a path that was “dangerous”.

      nobody is saying “screw the kids.” what they are saying is that the entire neighborhood needs to be taken into consideration before definitive (permanent?) actions are taken based on the sole input of one vocal minority. of course, you sound like you belong to that vocal minority so you likely can’t hear anything other than your own echo chamber.

    • Yeah, why aren’t those parents controlling their offspring! They should be at their side 24 hours a day, or tell them not to touch things because we all know kids listen to everything we tell them! When one of those kids falls on a needle and gets AIDS we’ll have you go into his hospital room and explain that your walk score was more important.

    • @zeebleoop, It sounds like you’re not familiar with the layout of the school campus and this path.
      The path cuts right through the school grounds; the kids have to cross the path to go between the courtyard and the play field, and they have to walk the length of the path to get to and from their buses, which load on Federal Ave. There’s no such thing as “not interacting” with this path.
      The kids are already instructed not to chase any balls that roll into the bushes, but the danger is not even that far away. One needle was found artfully displayed right in the links of the fence, at about kid head level. Another needle was discarded in the middle of the path, and it’s sheer luck that it was found by a savvy 5th grader — one who had been educated on the dangers and knew to go tell an adult — and not a curious kindergartner.

  2. I hadn’t seen the gate and fence before. It looks like a lot of time and money was spent on it. Time and money that could of gone to, well you know, cleaning and maintaining the pathway.

    • that would make too much sense. why spend money on a solution when you can spend a lot of money over many months on temporary reactionary measures?

      and while we’re at it, how about dragging out a solution that could’ve been solved by getting school and city officials in a single room to make a decision? let’s waste more time, energy and money – we have plenty!

  3. This is and remains ridiculous – the parents and the neighborhood should be together on this – the problem isn’t people who live in the neighborhood who want to walk the path, the problem isn’t the kids, the problem is a few junkies who have been messing the place up for everyone!! We should not be tolerating homeless addicts camping on the grounds of an elementary school -PERIOD-

  4. So, this article says that SDOT has been meeting with school officials to hear their “requirements” for reopening the route. That sounds a lot like the school district is calling the shots on this issue, and that is very presumptuous. I would remind them that the pathway is NOT their land… is owned by the City, and that means by the citizens of Seattle, including neighbors of the school. It is not fair (or even legal?) for the school to be dictating to the City what they think should be done.

    • There may be some precedent for it – up at TT Minor the play area is technically a park, but during school hours it is signed, gated and (I think) locked to other users. This makes sense – they use it for recess and probably gym glass, and during school hours, it’s their domain, but when schools is out there’s no reason other people shouldn’t use it.

      I cannot see why Lowell should or would be different, but permanently gating the path at all hours doesn’t make any sense, it doesn’t benefit the kids or the neighborhood and just makes it more secluded for the campers who are messing it up in the first place, who I am sure have no respect for a chain link fence that’s as easy as that one to climb over.

  5. Yes, it is distressing from the tone of this article, that SDOT is letting SPS call all the shots here, and it is further apparent that SPS doesn’t have the time to deal with the situation.

    The president of Lowell PTA said that *I* was resorting to hyperbole at the public meetings when I insisted that public right-of-way remain public, shortly after declaring that CHILDREN WILL DIE if the path wasn’t kept closed.

    I am still willing to offer my own time and money to help keep the path open, but I don’t think that is part of the Lowell PTA and the Lowell school administrations pre-determined agenda. I now believe they intend to fight for permanent closure, and any “neighborhood input” is a simple result of SDOT community outreach, and not something the PTA and school thought they that would have to accommodate. It is window dressing.

    I was a dues paying member of 4 different Seattle Public Schools over a 14 year period that ended in 2015. Figuratively bulldozing the neighbors was never on the agenda of any other school’s PTAs, and I am dismayed at the back-room secret dealings that Lowell engaged in to sneak this pseudo-temporary closure through, and I am disappointed that SDOT has to this point just rolled over on this.

    Lowell has chosen an adversarial relationship with the neighborhood, and is refusing to budge. It would have been nice if the Lowell PTA President had stayed for the workshops at the 2nd half of the public meetings, instead of simply stating his intractable stance and leaving.