Clash starts over Monorail stops
Seattle Times staff reporter
The latest route scenario for the monorail's Green Line would ditch one of two Interbay stations that were part of the pre-election plan, and the Seattle Popular Monorail Authority is taking some heat.
"It appears to be a bait-and-switch," said Jeffrey Hummel, an architect who wants a monorail stop restored at 15th Avenue Northwest near the Magnolia Bridge. His clients, South Point Seattle Investments, own 12 acres there and several old buildings.
Some neighborhood groups have complained about the latest proposal, which would leave only a single Interbay-Magnolia station, at West Dravus Street.
Last fall, monorail leaders Joel Horn and Tom Weeks portrayed the area as a highlight of the 19-station corridor. The trains would serve not only new businesses to be developed someday on nearby underused Port of Seattle and National Guard land, but also potential low-income housing at the Northwest Center for the Retarded, they said.
But in a recent preliminary proposal, staff members of the Seattle Popular Monorail Authority (SPMA) moved the proposed station a mile south to West Republican Street, near existing high-rises and offices. Spokesman Paul Bergman emphasized a final decision would not be made for eight months, after more meetings in the neighborhoods.
"What's most fascinating about this process is how much people want these stations," Horn said. "People really understand the value of these stations. They're putting a lot of pressure into getting stations, and we're excited about that."
He predicted the Magnolia Bridge station would be a future stop.
That would add a 20th station, and each stop adds 40 to 60 seconds to travel time.
Dick Falkenbury, who founded the city monorail movement, said the West Republican Street station should be dumped because a Seattle Center station is nearby. He also thinks only one Interbay station is needed.
Falkenbury criticized a newly proposed station in Belltown at Fifth Avenue and Bell Street — added when one of three Seattle Center stations was dropped from the plans. Falkenbury suggests limiting the stations to 18 or fewer, saying that with more, the ride will start to become as slow as a bus.
"We've got to be more careful about who the SPMA promises new stations to, because it's going to slow down everyone's ride. ... You're killing this thing with kindness."
In other developments:
• Talks are under way about whether to raze the south grandstands of Memorial Stadium at Seattle Center to allow a more direct monorail path toward the Experience Music Project.
• Wallingford resident Geof Logan has filed a complaint with the state Auditor's Office regarding SPMA personnel. Logan says Horn was hired as executive director without a broader search for other job candidates; that Horn's annual salary of $172,000 exceeds a $115,000 estimate in earlier planning documents; that new board member Nick Hanauer's primary home is in Shoreline, not Seattle; and that a conflict of interest exists because new board member Richard Stevenson is employed by the SPMA's landlord, Clise Properties, which owns the Securities Building downtown.
Bergman, the SPMA spokesman, said the auditor's staff plans to discuss those issues with monorail officials during a routine audit visit in April or May.
• A hearing is scheduled Friday by King County Records and Elections to consider whether Hanauer may legally serve on the SPMA board. Tim Hatley, an organizer of the anti-monorail campaign last year, challenged Hanauer's status. Hanauer, a millionaire entrepreneur whose primary home is in Shoreline, changed his voter-registration address to a family-owned condo in Seattle while being recruited for a board seat. The City Council unanimously confirmed Hanauer last week.
• The Seattle Community Council Federation last week asked the state Public Disclosure Commission to investigate whether a recent mass e-mail by the SPMA, promoting legislative fixes to help the monorail's credit rating, violates rules against using public funds for "grass-roots" political campaigning.
Mike Lindblom: 206-515-5631 or email@example.com