Chamber clarifies position on Burke-Gilman Trail
Recently there have been reports that the Ballard Chamber of Commerce is against the Burke-Gilman Trail because we have signed on as an appellant to the SEPA Notice of Appeal. This is NOT the case.
The Chamber has appealed the determination of non-significance (DNS) because it has concerns about the impacts of the trail on the broader business community. These have been conveyed to both Mayor (Greg Nickels) during a visit last on May 10, 2008 and to Kirk Jones, Burke Gilman Trail project manager, in writing and in a meeting hosted by the Chamber’s Issues Committee last Oct. 7, 2008.
Our concerns have not been adequately addressed and the appeal process is the only tool at the Chamber’s disposal to demand further consideration.
The Chamber is not opposed to change and has been supportive of efforts to develop and encourage alternative modes of transportation, including cycling. In partnership with King County Metro, Sustainable Ballard and Groundswell NW, the Chamber devoted countless hours to promoting and managing the Ballard in Motion program in 2006.
However, the Chamber’s mission is to promote, support and protect the Ballard’s business interests. Our organization does not oppose the trail, but is challenging the recent DNS issued by the Seattle Department of Transportation. The economic impacts of building this section of the trail are real and the environmental assessment does not adequately address mitigation of these impacts.
The impacts we are concerned about are not just those of our co-appellants, but the broader business community as well.
One example of the Chamber’s concerns is a significant loss of parking. This is an issue that greatly concerns local businesses, whether or not they are industrial businesses or Chamber members. The current plans for the trail require the removal of approximately 140 parking spots, primarily along Shilshole Avenue. These spaces are not metered and offer “long-term” parking.
Their adjacency to the Ballard Avenue Landmark District is noteworthy. This commercial section, because of its historic status, is exempt from normal parking requirements. Building owners, residents, employees, restaurant and club owners, and other merchants and service providers rely heavily on these parking spaces, as do patrons of the Sunday Farmers’ Market and Market Street businesses. In an area with diminishing parking lots and on-street parking, the removal of this many parking spots is a serious concern. The Chamber has asked for mitigation, but has been told that none will be provided. (This concern is addressed in 4:10 of the Notice of Appeal, under Section 4: DNS Inadequacies.)
The Chamber is not opposed to the bike trail, but is seeking a more equitable resolution with appropriate mitigation. The Burke-Gilman trail is a great asset for the region. The Chamber is simply asking that in exchange for the use of this commercial roadway through Ballard, to the benefit of residents of the region, that the City provide mitigation for our business community and those who do business here.
Ballard Chamber of Commerce