Awesome presentations and discussion last night at the Land Use Academy session on the Roosevelt Reservoir. Alex Chen from Seattle Public Utilities presented a great overview of water management in Seattle, and SPU’s long-term planning approach. While it’s fantastic to see that Seattle’s per-person water usage has dropped considerably over the last 30 years, there are lots of uncertainties in future demand. I certainly do not envy Alex’s job of trying predict water needs for the entire region from now until 2060 and beyond.
A key point that was made clear in the meeting is that SPU has not decided whether to ‘surplus’ the reservoir, and will not do so until around the end of 2016, when their seismic study is completed. The reservoir has been unused for two years, but now that we are aware that the region is more seismically active than previously thought, SPU is trying to determine what reservoir capacity would be needed in ‘worst-case’ scenarios to fight fires and provide sufficient drinking water, particularly if city supplies from the Cedar River / Tolt River sources are impacted. A sobering scenario, but one that I am glad SPU is considering carefully …
At the same time, should the reservoir be kept in service, there is a long-term goal to cover (“lid”) potable water reservoirs in the city for health reasons, which would present a potential opportunity for a park to be built above the reservoir. Chip Nevins, from Seattle Parks and Recreation carefully explained the city’s approaches to acquiring new parks, and informally discussed some of the different scenarios that might happen with the reservoir site in the future. While he believes the parks department will explore all possibilities, it was clear that there are fewer resources available for acquiring new land for parks than in previous years.
Following these presentations, there was a productive discussion of ideas for the site and factors that community members considered important. Jon Sloan presented the “Roosevelt Community Sports Center” proposal for an ice rink, swimming pool, and other facilities to be built on the site. Other proposals included schools, given the shortage of elementary, middle, and high schools in North Seattle. Residents expressed concerns around building heights, parking and traffic, while others expressed support for more affordable housing on the site. There were many other ideas that the LUA committee collected and will be analyzing later.
Many thanks to Jim O’Halloran and the LUA crew for organizing, to Alex Chen and Chip Nevins for informative presentations; to CCA for hosting; and to all from the neighborhood who attended!
You can watch the video of the session and take the survey from the LUA page.