In a letter to the Mayor and members of the City Council, members and leaders of neighborhood greenway organizations throughout the city made a list of recommendations as the city heads into budget season. Aside from merely requesting funding for neighborhood greenways, the group explains why a more diversified funding plan makes sense.
The letter (of which I am one of many signatories) also requests more staff time for public outreach in neighborhoods as projects are planned, allowing residents to get involved, learn about neighborhood greenways and help shape the plan.
Though the letter does not mention it, Proposition 1 is vital to accelerating the creation of neighborhood greenways around the city. Without Prop 1, there is no dedicated funding source for these projects, which hold tremendous potential to change the way people get around their neighborhoods and interact with each other.
Ballots are arriving at homes around Seattle. Tell your friends, family and coworkers to vote YES on Prop 1. You can also volunteer for Street For All (sign up online), including this Sunday’s big city-wide canvassing event (11 am – 3 pm, meet at Sierra Club offices at 180 Nickerson St).
Here is the complete letter from Seattle Neighborhood Greenways (sign the letter yourself online):
Dear Mayor McGinn and Seattle City Council members,
We are members of the Seattle Neighborhood Greenways Coalition. As you consider the 2012 budget, we ask you to prioritize Neighborhood Greenways to build healthy, connected communities. The Seattle Neighborhood Greenways Coalition has a number of ambitious but achievable goals:
- We want partnerships developed to fund future Neighborhood Greenway planning and development.
- We want at least 4 miles of Neighborhood Greenways constructed in 2012.
- We want a public involvement plan to guide future Neighborhood Greenway design and construction.
- We want a comprehensive plan to guide Neighborhood Greenways development across the City.
- We want a tool box of ideas and standards the City can use to construct Neighborhood Greenways.
Partnerships. Neighborhood Greenways are linear parks developed within the right of way to promote neighborhood mobility. Fully implemented Greenways have storm water benefits, provide a park-like amenity, promote safe routes to school, increase pedestrian and bicycle safety, and improve public health. As cycling is only one element of a Greenway, we feel the SDOT bicycle budget alone should not have to pay for Greenway implementation in Seattle. We ask Council to find creative ways to create dedicated resource streams for Greenway development with other SDOT funding, as well as Parks, SPU, SDOT, OSE, and other sources. As the benefits of Greenways become apparent, we believe public demand will also open up a variety of public and private funding sources.
4 miles. Fund projects identified by community groups. A number of communities throughout Seattle have been meeting and mapping out Neighborhood Greenways that connect important neighborhood destinations such as schools, business districts, community centers, parks, and light rail stations. We would like to see at least four miles of these Neighborhood Greenways constructed in 2012. In subsequent years we would like to see this annual goal increase to at least 15 miles per year. Portland has been adding 20 miles each year to its Neighborhood Greenway inventory and expects 85% of its population to live within one-half mile of a Greenway by 2015.
Public Involvement Plan. Assign staff to develop a process for equitably engaging people who live, work, send their children to school, and travel along future Neighborhood Greenways. We recommend the Portland Neighborhood Greenway Public Engagement Process: Identify potential Neighborhood Greenway routes; Notify Residents and interested parties by postcard and social media within a defined area; Hold two Open Houses, the first Open House to describe existing conditions and present possible development concepts, the second Open House a year later to present final plans for comment and schedule the date of greenway construction.
Comprehensive Neighborhood Greenway Plan. Fund the development of a prioritized Neighborhood Greenway plan to equitably connect neighborhoods to each other. This plan needs to align with existing transportation plans including freight mobility plans and the movement of public safety vehicles.
Toolbox. Fund professional development for Seattle traffic engineers so they can use and improve the full suite of progressive and innovative traffic calming solutions being developed for streets in livable communities, as well as more traditional stop signs, speed bumps, and maintainers to control speed and prioritize pedestrians and people who bike on residential streets.
As active community members, we are excited by the potential of Neighborhood Greenways to improve our public safety, encourage business and tourism, improve environmental quality and improve our overall quality of life as a community. Neighborhood Greenways benefit cities in so many ways. We are eager for Seattle to become a leader in Neighborhood Greenway development rather than continuing to play catch-up with Portland. Let’s have Seattle set the American standard for Neighborhood Greenways and a livable city. Please consider Neighborhood Greenways as you plan investments in the 2012 budget.