A higher than usual amount of residents attended the March 19 Magnolia Community Council meeting to hear about the Port of Seattle's proposed changes to Terminal 91.

Port of Seattle director of economics Dave McFadden led the presentation and discussed the new developments coming to the terminal, which is under and next to the Magnolia Bridge.

The proposal is to eventually build 700,000 square feet of new maritime industrial building space in Terminal 91’s Uplands area.

“This was part of a much larger reinvestment plan,” McFadden said. “It's part of our 2019-20 capital improvement plan.”

The Port of Seattle Commission approved $4.3 million to begin the planning phase of the project on Feb. 26.

Since then McFadden and his employees created a Terminal 91 Uplands infrastructure study, which broke down the proposed project into three phases.

Phase 1 will cost the port around $700,000 and include an off-site connection to Seattle's sanitary sewer, a new port electrical transformer and communications pedestals, and a minor natural gas relocation.

Phase 2 will cost the port an estimated $5 million and include a new sanitary sewer main sized for a full 1 million square feet of development, a regional stormwater treatment facility and port electrical transformer.

Phase 3 is the big-ticket item, estimated to cost $28.3 million. This will include the construction of a central arterial access road and associated utility corridor, a replacement of a 42-foot storm drain main pipe and additional cooling fans to two existing electrical substations to increase site power capacity.

The Port of Seattle is working with the city to receive a Major Planned Development permit for up to 15 years of construction.  The port is also in the beginning phases of an environmental impact study, which is why it is attending community meetings to take comments and answer questions about the project. The port is currently planning for the first two phases, and expects construction to begin in 2021. 

McFadden said a project like this has been a long time coming.

“We've tried to develop the uplands on several occasions but we couldn't for a few good reasons,” he said.

One of the biggest questions the MCC had for McFadden was in regard to the Magnolia Bridge. Many trustees noted that more development would mean more traffic and use of the bridge, which is in need of replacement.

“Can the port side with us or embrace the idea of a one-to-one replacement of the bridge?” asked Magnolia Chamber of Commerce president Pat Craft.

McFadden did not entirely embrace the idea of supporting the council's plan for a bridge replacement, but said the port will bring up the idea and more during discussions with SDOT, Sound Transit and WSDOT. The port is working with Sound Transit on plans for the new light rail extension through West Seattle and Ballard.

“We are a part of that conversation,” McFadden said. “We will make sure the bridge and streets are well analyzed.”

McFadden also emphasized the ports plans to make sure the area is used to bring more well paying jobs to Terminal 91 through the construction of industrial space.

“We don't want to sell this land,” he said. “This is working, blue-collar waterfront. We will build an employment base.”


DON talks communications


Seattle Department of Neighborhoods director Andres Mantilla discussed ways he is trying to create more connections and dialogue between the city and Seattle’s communities and councils during last Tuesday’s meeting.

“I felt in conversation with the mayor that the idea was to get leadership out of city hall into the neighborhoods,” Mantilla said. “There are over 200 neighborhood associations. It's important to me for you to have a face of the Department of Neighborhoods that you can have a conversation with. Even if that is in a space of disagreement, agreement or good, inspired debate.”

Mantilla first started working for the City of Seattle as a part of a community outreach team in 2008. He started working in the Office of Economic Development in 2011. He worked in the private sector before Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan rehired him to work on another community outreach team.

In his new role as DON director, Mantilla has been trying to make inner-city changes, so more residents feel heard.

“How do we offer more efficient service to the community and elevate the community voice, and how do we do it not always at the implementation phase? How do we do it at the planning phase? How do we leverage relationships to the policymaking table?” Mantilla said. “We haven't been supporting our community engagement coordinators as we needed too.”

Mantilla said the department is creating a new "Significant Issuance Team" within the city, which will help organize residents' comments and make sure they are being delivered to the right person in the city instead of ending up in a “black hole.”

“There is lots of stuff happening in Magnolia right now,” Mantilla said. "Fort Lawton, homelessness and work around Interbay, the Magnolia Bridge, transit being delivered here, and what will happen with industrial and commercial lands ... Affordability, displacement and gentrification are at the core of what the city is debating now. It's in every community, and questions around affordability and questions around who and how we are preserving and growing neighborhoods. I am not afraid of having tough discussions or conversations. What we need to do as a department is meet that need for outreach and engagement.”

Residents in attendance and trustees had a lot to say to Mantilla about the lack of communication between neighborhood chambers, councils and residents.

“The outreach has been abysmal,” said MCC Trustee Libby Stevenson. “We were totally shut out.”

“We had a discussion a while ago, when you first came on, about what it has meant to the community when the district councils were dissolved,” said MCC Trustee Janis Traven”I was hopeful there would be some action. Since that connection was broken, we no longer get updated. You have to go to the city website for updates and it's really hard to find anything that is going on. It used to be the city would come into our district meetings and would update us.”

Mantilla explained that during the creation of the 2014-15 city budget, Mayor Ed Murray took away funding for the past neighborhood councils and decreased the number of staff in the Department of Neighborhoods. Since then there has been little employee growth or budget increases.

“The department is 60 people, and the City of Seattle has over 11,000 employees,” Mantilla said. “Even if we had 200 people, we can't own all the outreach. It's slow and frustrating, but I hear what you are saying and it's on us and the city to do better."

Ballard District Council director Angie Gerrald attended the MCC meeting and said Ballard residents have many of the same concerns.

“There never seems to be any quarterly or annual updates,” Gerrald said. “We never see when and where we've grown. Who is looking out for us? Is that a role of yours?”

Mantilla said he is trying to coordinate with his staff and Mayor Jenny Durkan to create quarterly or annual growth reports and have community or neighborhood-specific round tables to answer questions.


In other news


At the top of the council meeting, MCC president Lynn Hoagan announced trustee Tom Tanner resigned from the council.

“He is traveling more than he is here, and he regrets he can't attend meetings,” Hoagan said. “I have accepted his resignation and I am waiting for our legal representation to consult about appointing someone new.”