Parks Board To Hear Impact of Budget Cuts

The Seattle Parks Board of Commissioners monthly meeting will be held at 7:00 pm , Thursday January 13, 2011 Meeting at Seattle Park Headquarters, 100 Dexter Avenue North.

The agenda is below. The agenda includes an overview of the Parks Department’s approved 2011 budget and three Statement of Legislative Intent (SLI): Paid Parking Analysis, Community Center Partnership and Planning Analysis, and Rowing and Sailing Transition Plan.

For more information contact Sandy Brooks, Park Board Coordinator at 206-684-5066, email or by going to the Parks Board website

  • Call to Order 7:00 p.m.
  • Consent Items: Approve Jan 13 Agenda; Oct 18 Retreat and Oct 28 and Dec 9 minutes; and Acknowledgment of Correspondence
  • Superintendent’s Report 7:05
  • Oral Requests and Communication from the Audience 7:30 (for subjects that have not recently had or are not scheduled for a public hearing) NOTE: Speakers will be limited to 2 or 3 minutes each, to be determined by the chair and based upon # of people testifying. A maximum of 10 minutes testimony will be heard during Oral Requests portion of the agenda. Testimony in excess of 10 minutes will be heard prior to “Old/New Business”
  • Briefing: Overview of 2011 Approved Budget 7:40 Presented by Carol Everson, Seattle Parks Finance Director
  • Briefing: City Council Statements of Legislative Intents for 8:10
    • Paid Parking Analysis
    • Community Center Partnership and Planning Analysis
    • Rowing and Sailing Transition Plan Presented by Carol Everson, Seattle Parks Finance Director
  • Old/New Business 9:00
    • Committee Reports
    • 2011 Committee Appointments
  • Adjourn 9:30

The Board of Park Commissioners is:

  • John Barber
  • Terry Holme, Chair
  • Jourdan Keith
  • Diana Kincaid, Vice-chair
  • Donna Kostka
  • Jackie Ramels

Briefing papers are generally available on the Park Board web page the Friday before each meeting at

View Seattle Channel’s tapes of Park Board meetings, from June 12, 2008 through the most current, at

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January Spokespeople Ride: Alki to Kent and Back

The Spokepeople West Seattle January ride is for those Over 50 who are Over worke! The group will meet at the Alki Statue of Liberty 11:00 am Sunday, January 9th.

Over 50 Over worked.

Spokespeople West Seattle will not concede the forgone conclusion that baby boomers will bankrupt Medicare. Baby boomers grew up on two wheels and two wheels will keep them healthy and decrease their healthcare costs.

If you are also determined not to be a tax burden please join us as we pedal our way into a very healthy age. This 38 mile ride goes from Alki to Kent and back with one hill. We will have two levels of moderate pace. We also will have time before the ride to discuss health and dietary issues. Dieticians and medical professionals are encouraged to attend.

Under 50 riders may attend.

To get a view of the ride route, check out this link

Solar Nerd: Community Solar Can Help In Many Ways

by Eric Thomas

No public school or library budget?

Public service retirements in danger?

Community Solar to the Rescue

We already know that solar power can save the world, but in staying with the here (West Seattle) and now (a recession), solar power can help save some of our most treasured community institutions; our schools and libraries. In the following paragraphs I will outline a proposal for these institutions to get FREE solar power systems, lower electric bills, and run on good green power (not to mention the awesome intangible benefits such as a solar curriculum for schools). The community members that support such a project will likely see a nice payback for their efforts. For the motivated community, this could be a huge opportunity. Of course and as always, there are no guarantees that one will recoup their contributions to such a project. I have put together a dynamic spreadsheet (snapshot below) that can help people understand Community Solar systems of various sizes and levels of participation. Just drop a line if you would like to chat sometime!

Ok, let us begin with a community solar overview. The WA State Legislature defines “community solar” as a solar energy system capable of generating up to 75kW of power and located on local government property. City and county owned property, both raw land and facilities, are the only eligible properties. No state, federal, utility, tribal or privately owned lands will work. There are many forms of ownership for community solar projects. Utilities, non-profits, individuals, households, cooperatives, LLCs, corporations and mutual corporations (local governments) can all be owners and applicants in a community solar project. Here is what a 75kW Made in WA system would look like.

In order to keep out the motive of profiteering, the form of ownership for a community solar project that I am proposing here is the cooperative as defined by 23.86 RCW. Cooperatives have been used successfully in many ways to provide for the greater good in a democratic grassroots manner (just look at our very own PCC!).

Sustainability groups, churches, business districts, active PTA groups, “Friends of the Library”, etc are all great catalysts for a community solar coop. A group with cooperative experience is a must. Undertaking a project like this needs strong leadership and involvement.

Here is an outline of how the process works:

After forming the coop, members then begin to choose their contribution levels, budgets, target institutions, and begin developing a project plan. Once a general target has been identified, a local school or library system, a solar expert is used to determine the particular buildings that are best suited for solar. After some himmin’ and hawin’ amongst members, and a good ol’ fashioned site evaluation, the perfect site is chosen for installation. There are many factors involved in choosing a site. An important caveat to remember is that you MUST have a champion on the inside; a principle, science teacher, board member, legislator, Union, PTA, someone or some group to lobby for the project to the site stakeholders, from the inside.

Now let us look a little deeper at an example project. In this example we will be using Made in Washington solar panels and inverters. The WA Dept. of Revenue’s community solar rules state that a community solar installation using Made in WA equipment qualifies each member of the coop to be paid $1.08/kWh for their percentage of interest in the project (until the year 2020!). WOW! That’s bananas! Do you realize that electricity costs an average of about $0.08/kWh, and you’ll be paid $1.08! See the image below for an overview of community solar financial factors.

Ok, Ok, but what does a project like this really look like? How much time and energy is needed to start the coop and administer it? How big does the site have to be? What are the risks? The payback? System maintenance? There are a million questions to be answered. There is a reason that only a handful of these projects have been completed. But West Seattle is home to some of the brightest and boldest that Seattle has to offer (at 20% of Seattle’s population we have to be). If anyone could collaborate to make this happen, we could.

Again, feel free to drop a line. Solar Epiphany is happy to put together an informal idea session at our space sometime in the New Year.

Until next time…

PS:  Want to really shake things up? Imagine the Union of a local government warehouse (wink, wink, Port of Seattle;) investing in a community solar system for their building. Not only would the taxpayers be benefiting from lower overhead, but the Union members could enjoy a decent return on investment (better than the stock market)…and maintain the equipment themselves (learning new skills!). Holy Moly.

Eric Thomas is the proprietor of Solar Epiphany, a West Seattle business specializing in Solar Education, Installation and Advocacy. Find Solar Epiphany online at and at 6016 B California Ave SW, in the Morgan Junction area.

Legislative Workshop for Environmental Issues @ SPU

Interested in making a difference with the Legislature?

Fortunately, the 2011 Legislative Session is near and as we prepare for the upcoming session, the Environmental Priorities Coalition invites you to join them for the annual Environmental Priorities Coalition Legislative Workshop. The workshop is a fun way to come learn about the 2011 Environmental Priorities and how you can take action to help get them passed.

Here’s the details:

  • Environmental Priorities Coalition Legislative Workshop
  • When: Saturday, January 8th, 9:30 AM – 2:30 PM
  • Where: Seattle Pacific University, Gwinn Room
  • Cost: $20 with lunch, $10 without lunch, and $10 for students with lunch
  • environment

Experts will be on hand and a panel of our state legislators will be able to answer your questions about this year’s Environmental Priorities. There will also be break-out sessions on how to use social media to get your voice heard and be your own citizen lobbyist. Also, new this year, there will be a session on Activism 2.0, for folks who are ready to take their activism to the next level to help build the environmental movement.

Space is limited and already beginning to fill up. Register online today.

For more information contact Craig M. Benjamin, Communications Director, Environmental Priorities Coalition.

The Environmental Priorities Coalition consists of the following organizations:

  • American Rivers
  • Climate Solutions
  • Conservation NW
  • Earth Ministry
  • Environment Washington
  • Fuse
  • Futurewise
  • Heart of America Northwest
  • The Lands Council
  • League of Women Voters of Washington
  • Lutheran Public Policy Office
  • National Wildlife Federation
  • NW Energy Coalition
  • People for Puget Sound
  • Sierra Club Cascade Chapter
  • Surfrider Foundation
  • Transportation Choices Coalition
  • Washington Conservation Voters
  • Washington Environmental Council
  • Washington State Audubon
  • Washington Toxics Coalition
  • Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition
  • Zero Waste Washington
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SWS Stormwater Group Meets Tonight @ Uptown

This is a reminder that the next meeting of the Sustainable West Seattle Stormwater/Permaculture Project team will be this Wednesday, January 5th, 7:30 pm to 00:00 9 pm at Uptown Espresso at the triangle corner of SW Edmunds St., Erskine Way SW and California Avenue SW, at the south end of the Alaska Junction.

A draft stormwater presentation has been completed and uploaded to BaseCamp for project members.  If members of the project have any time, please take a look at it.

Copies of teh presentation will be available at tonight’s meeting and we’ll discuss it and how to improve it and how to get it out into the community.

Half the meeting will be devoted to the presentation, and the other half we’ll hear from Bill Reiswig about the Pathfinder permaculture project.

Parks Looking for New Advisory Team Members

Seattle Parks and Recreation is looking for community members for a new advisory team.  As a result of challenging budgets, Seattle Parks and Recreation has been asked by the City Council to re-think how community centers are operated. This process will include public meetings and the creation of a Community Center Advisory Team. Seattle Parks and Recreation is looking for community members to participate on the Advisory Team.

Advisory Team meetings will occur twice a month from January to May. The team will be exploring innovative ideas for operating the City’s community centers. Team members will consider the way the centers currently operate, review what other cities are doing, consider alternative operating models, evaluate public input, and assess options for partnerships.

Ultimately the Advisory Team will review and provide advice on the report that Parks will submit to City Council by June 1, 2010. In addition to representatives from the general community, members of the Advisory Team will include representatives from the Board of Park Commissioners, representatives of employee unions, employees, the Associated Recreation Council, and City Council and City Budget Office staff.

Seattle Parks and Recreation is currently seeking community applicants for the team. Those interested in serving on the Community Center Advisory Team are invited to apply. Parks is especially interested in those with past involvement with a community center, and those who are able to work in concert with others for the greater good. Please submit a statement (no more than 1,000 words total) addressing the following questions:

  • How and where have you been involved with a community center?
  • Please give an example of your most recent involvement.
  • What will you bring to the table?

Please submit your statement via e-mail to Susan Golub at The deadline is Monday, January 10 at 5 p.m.

Parks operates 26 community centers throughout the City that welcome nearly 700,000 participants a year. In conjunction with our non-profit partner, the Associated Recreation Council, Seattle’s community centers collectively operate the largest childcare program in the region. Most community centers are co-located with other facilities and services, such as schools, libraries, pools, playgrounds and playfields.

Federal Transportation Update this Friday

Transportation Choices Coalition‘s January Friday Forum will be an update on Federal Transportation policy and grants.

As transit agencies, local governments and transportation advocates are looking for solutions to the challenges ahead, TCC thought a federal transportation update would be timely.

Please join TCC, Ron Posthuma, Assistant Director of the Office of Regional Transportation Planning at King County Metro, and Mary McBride, HUD Region 10 Administrator, for a quick update on what is going on in Congress and an in-depth look at local impacts of the sustainable communities’ partnership between HUD and DOT.

  • What: Federal Transportation Update
  • When: Friday January 7th, 12:00 noon to 1:30 pm
  • Where: Seattle-King County Public Health – Chinook Building, Room 121, 401 Fifth Ave.
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Looking for Most Efficient Electronic Gifts or Devices

Here’s some seasonal tips for the energy efficient holiday shopper.

City Light’s Orange ENERGY FORWARD labels highlight the most efficient electronics

With the holiday shopping season in full swing, here’s news to help you make the most energy efficient purchases of TV’s, computers and monitors for family and friends on your shopping list.

Seattle City Light has teamed up with the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) to identify the most energy efficient units with bright orange ENERGY FORWARD labels. These labels will help consumers make smart choices when purchasing certain electronic items. The labels are easily identified on items at a variety of electronics retailers such as Costco, Sears and Kmart.

For a complete list of energy-efficient consumer electronics and participating retailers, please click the following link to the program site:

Tool of the Week: Jack plane

By Micah Summers

This week at The West Seattle Tool Library, I unearth one of carpentry’s oldest (and most useful) modern tools, the jack plane, which is a general-purpose bench plane. This particular plane, the Stanley No. 5 ¼, predates World War II but has been fully refurbished and cleaned for use. The term jack refers to the ‘jack of all trades’ saying, in that this plane can perform the duties of both smoothing and jointing planes.

Smoothing refers to a means of finishing a flat wood surface by shaving off thin slices. Done to perfection, this method can actually produce a finished surface of higher quality than any created by sandpaper. Jointing, on the other hand, is the process of straightening an edge of a piece of wood, usually with the intent of jointing it to another equally straightened piece. As you might imagine, a smoothing plane is actually the best plane for smoothing and a jointer plane, or try plane, is the best for jointing. The jack plane, however, is the workhouse, and often the most used plane in a woodworker’s collection.

Much of the traditional work of these hand planes has been replaced today with various sorts of power planes and sanders, which are often a little easier to use and produce a rather similar result in a fraction of the time. Hand planes are certainly still is use, though, since these old tools last forever, if properly maintained. In fact, to this day, you’re probably bound to see a set of planes in any decent woodworker’s shop around Seattle, either stored on the shelf or busy shaving off a bit of yellow cedar.

The jack plane is just one of over 1,000 tools available now at the West Seattle Tool Library, which is free to use and run primarily on user donations. If you or someone you know you would like to be involved in The Tool Library, please consider attending one of our bi-weekly meetups or becoming a member. Our next meetup is scheduled for December 22nd, 7pm, at Uptown Espresso in Alaska Junction.

And if you’re looking for a unique gift-idea, Tool Library Gift Memberships are now available online!

Follow The West Seattle Tool Library on:
Twitter (@wstoollibrary),
Facebook, (!/pages/West-Seattle-Tool-Library/132474963463223)
and Meetup (