Spruce Park Organizes Newest Neighborhood Group
They started as a group of four, annoyed at having to compete with Seattle University students and Harborview Medical Center employees for street parking spaces.
Now they've organized as the city's newest neighborhood association, and their 20 members are taking up issues such as outpatient drug treatment centers, youth offender programs and street corner drug dealing - issues that have worried residents of the Central Area neighborhood they call Spruce Park.
Already home to a work-release facility, a juvenile detention center and several social service programs serving the homeless and poor, the neighborhood is taking a closer look at similar programs that want to move in.
The neighborhood has ``a history of being pretty tolerant, but we feel it's time to . . . be more concerned about what's coming in,'' said Liane Christianson, president of the Spruce Park Neighborhood Association.
A year ago, residents of the neighborhood would not have known about the plans for a new residential home for juveniles who've been in trouble with the law or about a center for pregnant women with drug and alcohol addictions, Christianson said.
They hope that by organizing they can be brought into the loop of decision-making while there is still time to make a difference. They've already seen some results.
Residents worked with operators of the youth home, which is to open this week, and won several concessions, including improved lighting in the area.
Several of those who got involved in the neighborhood group because of the parking problems have served during the past six months on the board that screens inmates for the work-release facility.
And meetings are beginning between the association and the several agencies sponsoring the center for pregnant women.
Although progress on their first issue, parking, has been slow, Christianson said she believed improvement would be apparent soon. A residential parking zone plan is to go to the City Council for approval next month.
Christianson said the group, which registered with the city and made its transformation to formal association last month, plans to work closely with the larger neighborhood groups surrounding it but felt there were concerns specific enough to their smaller area to justify a separate association.
``We'd like to see the rebuilding of this neighborhood so the residents can take pride again in where they live,'' Christianson said. It doesn't have to be at the expense of the social service programs, she added. ``We're very supportive of what's here,'' Christianson said. ``We're not trying to run anyone out.''
For more information about the association, contact Christianson at 622-7783.
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