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Overcoming Challenges & Building Opportunities Together

Mayor Bruce Harrell at Duwamish Alive

2021 Duwamish Valley Program Update & Progress Report 

By Alberto J. Rodríguez (OSE) & David W. Goldberg (OPCD) 

It is no secret the last couple of years have been extremely challenging. But, due to the incredible grit, perseverance, and community leadership, we have overcome many challenges and built opportunities — togetherIn this update we describe some the Duwamish Valley Program’s highlights from 2021.

Throughout the years, the South Park and Georgetown communities have identified priorities and developed plans in collaboration with volunteers, universities, non-profits, philanthropic entities, and government agencies, many of which are led by communities of color and low-income communities and thus ensure that racial and social justice are front and center. None of these efforts would be successful without the many community members who contributed countless hours of volunteer time and labor to improve their neighborhoods and help deliver projects and programs. To all of you, THANK YOU! 

Since 2016, the City of Seattle’s Duwamish Valley Program and Duwamish Valley Action Team (DAT) have worked to create positive change in the Duwamish Valley and build a more just and equitable city. Despite encountering many obstacles and delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the DAT continued to work collaboratively to break silos, use an intersectional approach, and build partnerships with community, other agencies, and philanthropic organizations to deliver on the actions included in the  Duwamish Valley Action Plan.

We would like to share some highlights from 2021:  

2022 Duwamish Valley Package of Investments

The City’s 2022 budget included one of the largest packages of investments since the release of the Action Plan in 2018 (approximately $9 million). These investments will expand youth leadership and capacity building, fund essential improvements to community gathering spaces, improve mobility and access to greenspace and the Duwamish River, improve air and environmental quality, and support local businesses and workforce development. Many of these were supported by and will be aligned with Seattle’s Green New Deal.

COVID-19 Relief & Response

Photo Credit: Rosario-Maria Medina

The Office of Sustainability & Environment (OSE) supported 12 women- and BIPOC-owned small businesses in Georgetown and South Park with technical assistance and/or four rounds of protective supplies and gear. Additionally, in partnership with community-based organizations, we supported more than 100 South Park and Georgetown families and individuals with rental assistance, utility payments, emergency grocery vouchers, and healthcare costs. 

Reconnect West Seattle:

The unexpected closure of the West Seattle Bridge dramatically impacted the Duwamish Valley communities. In 2021, Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) and Department of Neighborhoods (DON) worked with South Park and Georgetown community members to identify, design, and implement traffic calming and pedestrian safety projects to mitigate for the bridge closure. Among other things, together we planted 100 street trees each in South Park and Georgetown; established Home Zones in both neighborhoods; built a new sidewalk and finished the Duwamish Longhouse & Cultural Center interim crossing signal to provide safer access to those visiting the Longhouse and people walking and biking on the Duwamish Trail; and many other things.  

Duwamish Valley Resilience District:  

OSE, the Office of Planning & Community Development (OPCD), and Seattle Public Utilities (SPU), launched, paused, and re-launched our efforts to establish a Resilience District in the Duwamish Valley. While delayed, we made progress last year, including hiring Equitable Future to lead community engagement efforts and Environmental Works as the landscape architecture firm to support the design and implementation of two pilot projects (i.e., Unity Electric site planning in South Park and improvements to 8th Ave. S in Georgetown). In the next few weeks, we will begin broad community engagement. Stay tuned for more information.   

And there’s even more!

We also want to celebrate progress on all seven priority areas in the Action Plan, including:  

Healthy Environment:

Photo Credit: Hannah Letinich

Parks & Open Spaces:

  • Duwamish Waterway Park. Seattle Parks & Recreation (SPR) has been making improvements to the park. Construction is nearing completion and work is underway with the Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology) to define final environmental remediation actions. 
  • South Park Community Center. SPR finalized design, is currently working on corrections, and anticipates bidding this summer with construction starting in the fall of 2022. 
  • South Park Plaza. SPR has been leading this work. The project is nearing completion of construction documents and permits have been submitted to King County for their review and approval.  
  • Unity Electric. SPR purchased a 1-acre site on the Duwamish River (Unity Electric site), next to Duwamish Waterway Park to support community interests in open space, increasing access to the river, habitat restoration, and developing community-supportive nonprofit spaces. 
  • Georgetown Flume Off-Leash Area. SCL transferred part of the property SPR to develop a new off-leash area and pedestrian thoroughfare in the Georgetown neighborhood. After meeting with Ecology, SPR learned that the project is now required to submit an Interim Action Work Plan (IAWP) that Ecology must approve. Consequently, construction must be delayed until summer of 2023, contingent upon Ecology’s approval of the IAWP. 
  • 8th Ave. S and Gateway Park North. SDOT continues working with community, SPR, and the Port of Seattle on plans to improve the 8th Ave. S Street End/Gateway Park North in Georgetown, and to develop an environmental testing and remediation strategy.  

Community Capacity:

Seattle Human Services Department and OSE supported the Duwamish Valley Youth Corps and Georgetown Youth Council; OPCD and Finance & Administrative Services continued supporting tenants with developing long-term plans for managing and improving the South Park Neighborhood Center; DON, OSE, and OPCD funded community-based organizations  via the Food Equity Fund, the Duwamish River Opportunity Fund, the Environmental Justice Fund, and the Equitable Development Implementation Fund; and OPCD and SPR launched community engagement for site planning for the Unity Electric property

Mobility & Transportation:

SDOT secured funding for the construction of the Georgetown to South Park Connection/Trail (including the intersection at 16th Ave. S and E Marginal Way S) and SPU and SDOT began a project to improve chronic flooding and drainage issues in South Park. 

Economic Opportunity & Jobs:

Several departments increased local access to contracting and jobs and the Office of Economic Development and OSE provided support to small businesses via COVID-19 relief funds and Neighborhood Recovery Funds.   

Affordable Housing:

The Office of Housing entered into a purchase and sale agreement on two adjacent properties in South Park. They expect to complete the acquisition in the first half of 2022. 

Public Safety:

SDOT implemented pedestrian safety and traffic calming projects as part of Reconnect West Seattle and supported improvements to the Duwamish Bikeway/8th Ave. S Trail in South Park 

In 2022 and 2023, many of these projects will go from planning and design to construction, so you will be seeing on-the-ground improvements.  

We look forward to continuing working with you to advance environmental justice, equitable development, and climate and community resilience in the Duwamish Valley. 

Thanks for your ongoing support! 

Alberto & David