We forwarded the community meeting invitation to Mayor Mike McGinn. As one neighbor explained, “He ran on a platform of being close to the people of Seattle and environmentally responsible.” This Roadside Raingardens Pilot may seem like a small matter on the city docket, but it is a building block: In City Planning, we expect growth and function will be partnered with community comfort, safety, and beautification–and where that effort may seem tricky, this distinguishes a livable city from Leningrad. What the residents see in this Raingarden pilot is the City focused on function, but somewhere lost its creative edge and common sense.
I have looked at Raingardens in other parts of the country and Europe–still with the same functionality of cleaning up the environment, but also part of long-term strategies that strive to retain the beauty of their community. These Raingardens have attractive landscaping, no glaring “caution” signs, and if there is any standing water, they are in large, open areas (such as parking lots, parks, or along beaches), not in neighborhoods.
I have also travelled to Agra, India. There was pooling water on sides of roads. Malaria pills were required. The government, instead of cleaning up the standing water, posted glaring “caution” signs (seen below), placing the responsibility back on the individual citizens not to get bitten by a mosquito, and in our case in Ballard, also to “keep children and animals from playing in the swales.”
Which will our city emulate? It’s not too late to fix these Raingardens, beautify them, make them safe, and then expand the project. It’s up to Mayor McGinn and Councilmember Mike O’Brien.