MCC: join the club

I like to think of Magnolia as the closest far-away suburb of Seattle. We have the benefits of living near a great downtown, but once here, it seems like living in a distant, wonderful small town.

But the price of that quality of life - as with freedom - is eternal vigilance. For example, there are discount airlines, Bellevue developers, branches of the United States government and some public officials who don't share our priorities for the future of Magnolia.

And so it's been the main mission of the board and members of the Magnolia Community Club (MCC) to focus on that future, and protect it from outsiders' indifference. So far it's been a pretty good year.

The best news is that we won a big one at Boeing Field. On the morning of our well-publicized on Oct. 11 special meeting to protest Southwest Airlines' move to Boeing Field, King County Executive Ron Sims announced his decision to deny the airline access to Boeing Field for regularly scheduled flights.

The details have been all over the media, but the MCC deserves credit for being part of the full court press - including Sound Air Alliance - that succeeded in convincing pubic officials about the negative impacts the move would have for neighborhoods under the new flight paths.

Special thanks go to Robert Bismuth, an aviation expert who sits on the MCC Board. Robert was tireless, imaginative and articulate in leading us to victory.

Of course, we also want to thank Sims for studying all the factors carefully and coming to the right conclusion in favor of the neighborhoods. We will continue to press for planes approaching King County International Airport from the north to do so over water - not over the schools and homes in Magnolia.

The first questions at our next general meeting on Nov. 10 will be directed to senior staff of the Parks Department, and will be about the Magnolia Boulevard Vegetation Plan. I assume that most residents of Magnolia consider the boulevard an extension of their neighborhood, and would like to see the overgrowth controlled.

Parks has a plan, but it has not been fully implemented and needs to be re-thought. The concept is simple: when we walk or drive along the boulevard, the only things blocking our view of Puget Sound should be the madrona trees for which Magnolia was named, albeit mistakenly. All other growth should be kept very low. If we want to see volunteer maples, we can go to Discovery Park.

Of course, any vegetation plan near a slope has to be done carefully, but the tourist buses shouldn't have to be double-deckers for everyone to have views of the water. We must protect the most scenic walk north of La Jolla.

In regards to Discovery Park, the MCC has been instrumental in getting the city to commit to buying the Capehart/Navy Housing and turning it into park land again, as well as helping the city acquire the lighthouse at West Point. Two huge bonuses for Seattle.

MCC also has been involved in the planning process for two new parks at the Magnolia Elementary site, and Ursula Judkins Viewpoint at the top of the bridge.

I don't want to overstate our resources. MCC does not claim ownership of all problems and issues in perpetuity. We are most effective when acting as a catalyst to get local neighbors to step up and take over the ongoing solutions.

Two examples of this were the clean up of the Thorndyke meridian, and the landscaping of the traffic island at 34th and McGraw. MCC has been involved in joining local groups in opposing the cluster housing by a Bellevue developer at Briarcliff school site, and in changing the zoning so that private investment can makeover the blight in the area around 15th and Dravus.

Our MCC general meetings are audience-friendly and a lot like town hall meetings in New England. We have addressed such topics as parks, crime, North Bay development and various candidates forums. (MCC makes no endorsements on candidates or ballot issues.) Our February, 2006, meeting will address disaster preparedness, an appropriate issue for a peninsula that can turn into an island in the blink of a bad event.

So if you are not now a member of MCC, please consider it for the benefit of your family and neighborhood. The annual dues are only $25 per household. The more members, the more clout MCC has at City Hall and in Olympia.

And if you are the type of individual who would rather get involved in finding solutions to problems, as opposed to just complaining about them over a beer at the local tavern, please consider joining our activist board. We have a couple of openings for 2006. To find us, just Google "Magnolia Community Club."

Vic Barry serves as president of the Magnolia Community Club.[[In-content Ad]]