Highland Park Improvement Club goes over crime, neighbors network and infrastructure
By Gwen Davis
On Wednesday evening, the Highland Park Improvement Club (HPIC) convened for its quarterly meeting. Around 15 people showed up.
Lieutenant Ron Smith said that by and large, crime is trending in a positive direction.
“Overall the crime projection compared to last year is a 60 percent reduction which is pretty good,” Smith said. "We really went hard against the car prowls – we’re looking pretty good regards to that.”
However, he said domestic violence is up 18 percent compared to last year.
Additionally, some areas in West Seattle have seen gang-related violence.
"Between White Center and South Park and Burien there is a gang rival,” Smith said. "We have a task force addressing it.”
But the area has enjoyed a 58 percent reduction in robberies.
“One of the things we’ve seen are incidences of harassment based on race and sexual identity,” one participant said. Another voiced that her yard was trashed due to her inclusivity sign.
Smith replied that he’s the department’s been especially targeting biased crime with "safe space” stickers, an initiative that’s been underway in Seattle for a few years.
Westside Neighbors Network
Judy Messier, founding member of the new Westside Neighbors Network, introduced attendees to the network.
“Westside Neighbors Network is a member-driven organization for seniors,” she said. “It enables people to age in place in their community.”
Members meet up with each other for day activities, share referrals for service providers, offer each other rides to appointments, and support one another.
"This has expanded all over the U.S., and this network is the fourth one in Seattle,” Messier said. “We started in 2014 when some people got together and were like, ‘gee whiz, this is something we want to do.'”
The network officially formalized this past summer, Messier explained. “We decided we needed to reach out to the community and see if anyone else wanted to have it.”
The group was well received. After initiating an outreach campaign and collecting more than 100 surveys, Messier decided to make it official.
"We concluded that yes, the interest was there,” she said. "We incorporated officially as a nonprofit in Washington State in February. Now we’ve been doing a founding member campaign, and we’re having our very first event — wine tasting party soon. Everyone is invited.”
Messier explained how the network works.
“We came up with two types of membership: one is a social membership for folks who want to participant in activities, then we have a full membership where people can ask for support and receive it,” she said.
Social memberships are $200 per individual, and allow for participation in social and educational events and activities that build and support connectedness and friendships. Full memberships are $400 per individual, and also allow members to able to request and receive help from other members. People will be able to contact each other from a database.
Full members will additionally be able to refer service providers, and use a co-living resource that will enable members to form intentional households to either own or rent together.
“Let’s say you have someone living in an big house all by themselves,” but who want the safety and companionship of living with others, Messier said. As full members, they’d be able to connect with other members — who are already vetted — to form new households.
"This provides an intermediary step between living by yourself and being in dire straights and being warehoused somewhere,” she said.
No one will be turned away due to inability to pay membership — the network is willing to work with people to find alternative payment plans.
The network is still looking recruiting members at this time.
“People are there to help you when you are sick,” she said. “Along with having others do to activities with.”
Infrastructure improvement update
The neighborhood will most likely have enough money to create a roundabout in the Highland Park Way SW and SW Holden St. intersection. West Seattle’s city council member Lisa Herbold was instrumental in securing support for the project.
“As most of you know we got $200,000 through the budget, and shortly after that we got another $300,000 from a levy,” an attendee updated the group. “We have $500,000 for the project. It’s looking really, really good. I think we got close to 400 signatures from the community. We had all our city council members sign a letter of support. When I contacted Councilmember Gonzales' office, he got all the other council members to sign it. We even got King County Councilmember Joe McDermott to sign a litter of support.”
In all, the neighborhood will have around $1.7 million to redo the intersection, which is enough.
“Getting this far has been very exciting,” a participant said. "One of the things folks ask is why this project so expensive… this project is 70 years behind,” he said.