Meeting notes: Warnings of Walmart in Interbay; Greenways on the way; 2013 Ballard road improvements

Notes from May 8 Ballard District Council

At the May 8 Ballard District Council, residents got together to talk about the gnitty gritty details of projects that could have a big effect on the Ballard area. Those projects include the Interbay (and soon Ballard) land use study, the Ballard Greenways and a list of road improvement projects that the Seattle Department of Transportation will be working on.

Envisioning Interbay

Though not in Ballard, the Interbay land use study is significant for a couple of reasons: 1) The 15th Ave corridor is used by trucks from Ballard industrial companies, and 2) A similar land use study, which will look at zoning in Ballard's light industrial area, will be coming in the fall, likely starting in November.

At an open house meeting, the Department of Planning and Development discovered that Interbay residents and stakeholders had concerns over traffic, living wage jobs from the industrial sector and having nearby retail, which there is little of at the moment.

DPD's Patrice Carroll said that transit, environmental concerns and development prospects would all factor into what to do with zoning. With RapidRide D and any possible future transit improvements, it may be easier for people to come to Interbay. At the same time, however, there are a lot of steep slopes, poor soils and other potential environmental hazards. There has also been some, though not necessarily a lot, of recent development, including some office space, apartment buildings that add about 350 units to the area and some renovation.

Carroll said right now DPD's preliminary recommendation was to soften up zoning a bit around the Dravus St intersection, creating a "local production district." This would allow for bigger restaurants, office space, retail and more residential use. At the same time, it would not be to the scale of an urban village, and preserving small manufacturing would still be a goal.

In addition, the National Guard Armory is nearing the end of its useful life, Carroll said, meaning that something will eventually need to happen with the space. At the moment, she said DPD is keeping their hands off of it and allowing the owners of the armory to propose an idea.

For more info on the "Envisioning Interbay" project, visit http://www.seattle.gov/dpd/Planning/EnvisioningInterbay/Overview/

Walmart in Interbay?

There was some concern in the room over whether zoning changes -- which are still just preliminary -- would bring big box stores into the area. Particularly, with the armory site being so big, there was concern over whether a Walmart might look to move into the area.

Steve Marquardt from UFCW 21, the biggest union representing grocery store workers in the United States, said that Walmart was looking -- and has already tried -- to move into the city of Seattle. though still early on, he said that the armory space seemed like the kind of space Walmart would eye for a possible supercenter location.

Marquardt warned that introducing a big box store could severely reduce the wages and benefits of local workers, and could subtract from how much money is put into the local economy.

He said that it was best to catch this as far upstream as possible, by preventing land use zoning from making a Walmart move-in possible. Otherwise, he said, residents have few tools to prevent a tenant from moving in.

Ballard Greenways

There is little new to report on the Ballard Greenways -- which will make NW 58th St safer for pedestrians and bicyclists -- except that construction is going to be underway. Representatives of the Ballard Greenways project talked a little bit about the Ballard Box idea, which would provide a network of greenways in the Ballard neighborhood, with north-south routes connecting downtown Ballard with the Loyal Heights and Crown Hill areas.

Here's a refresher on the changes coming from the greenway:

  • Directional signs, neighborhood greenway signs, 20 mph speed limit signs and bicycle pavement markings
  • New stop signs to control traffic crossing the greenway at certain intersections
  • Wider sidewalk on Seaview Avenue NW
  • Rectangular Rapid Flash Beacons at 24th Avenue NW and NW 58th Street
  • Partial diverter for eastbound traffic at 15th Avenue NW and NW 58th Street (at St. Alphonsus School)
  • ADA ramps, speed humps, crosswalks and crossbikes
  • Bicycle parking at destinations along the route
  • Concrete panel and spot pavement repair

For our definitive article on the debate, from April's open house, click here.

For more info from the Seattle Department of transportation, click here.

SDOT Road Improvement Projects

Art Brochet from the Seattle Department of Transportation had plenty to say about road improvements coming to Ballard in 2013. Here's a list of them:

General:

  • New curb bulb at SE corner of NW Market St at Tallman Ave NW -- Currently this is a wide intersection, a curb bulb will make it safer for pedestrians
  • Mid block crosswalk improvements – 24th Ave NW (between NW 77th & 80th Sts)
  • New crosswalk – Seaview Ave NW near NW 70th St. – no curb ramps until 2014
  • Ped walkway improvements – 17th ave NW (NW 89th to 90th Sts)

South Ballard Ave corridor improvements:

  • Pavement patches on NW 45th St. west of 11th Ave NW (Fred Meyer)
  • Advisory bike lanes on NW 45th St. between 11th and 15th Aves NW -- It was noted that these were not sharrows
  • Revised striping on Shilshole Ave NW from 15th ave NW (around bridge piers) to 46th Ave NW
  • Painted island at intersection of Shilshole Ave NW and NW 46th St -- It was noted that painted islands allowed for semi trucks to drive over and at the same time were much cheaper than actual traffic islands)
  • Repair of shoulder on Shilshole Ave NW between 17th Ave NW and the 2300 block
  • Curb ramp on Shilshole Ave NW at 24th Ave NW (SE corner) -- this will allow bicyclists to jump off the road entirely and hop onto the sidewalk, as it can be a dangerous road due to trucks
  • Painted island at Ballard Ave NW and 17th Ave NW (SW corner near Canvas Supply) -- It was noted that this was a dangerous intersection for bicyclists and that the painted island helped define the area more
  • Painted T-intersection where NW 48th meets Ballard Ave

Future paving projects in Ballard:

2014:

  • Holman Rd, NW 87th to Greenwood Ave N - mill and overlay, 30 percent design

Not funded, no date:

  • NW Market
  • NW 54th to 24th Ave NW
  • 24th Ave NW to 15th Ave NW
  • 15th Ave NW to 9th Ave NW

Zachariah Bryan can be reached at zachb@robinsonnews.com

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