Neighborhood Council connects the North End
For the North End Neighborhood Council, keeping residents connected and informed is the council’s highest priority. The issues that the board strives to address and in which it engages are certainly important, but without a network of communication with those directly affected by these issues, the impact of the board would be hampered by the lack of involvement. of the very people who live there.
“All the problems come and go, but the connectivity will always be there and it’s by far the most important thing we do for the neighborhood,” said Kyle Price, chairman of the North End Ward Council. “When everyone’s connected, we can navigate all kinds of things together and at least know what’s going on.
While average citizens can sometimes find themselves having to work through layers of municipal government to meet their needs, the Northern Council is there as a bridge. Price said the council’s relationship with city staff and leaders is excellent, another aspect of the council’s value to North End residents.
“It looks like a big city sometimes, but Tacoma is not really a big city and the neighborhood councils help to make that point. We give people a voice. It’s quite empowering as a citizen to know. that your voice is part of the process that is happening in the area where you live.
The North End is generally defined as being east of Orchard Street, north of 6e Avenue, and west of the Stadium business district. This also includes the Proctor Quarter and the Old Town, the city’s birthplace.
Due to the pandemic, the council had to meet virtually on Zoom and some of its projects were blocked but not forgotten. One of them is the Cushman-Adams electrical substation on North 21st Street. Tacoma’s utilities no longer require the use of the historic mid-1920s building or the grand yard it sits on, so North End Council is considering the property’s future use as a community center and park space called “Cushman Commons”.
“It’s an amazing building with a really cool history,” Price said. “We would love to have a community center in the North End because the only ones we have are at the University of Puget Sound and it’s a private campus. There is no public meeting space in the North End. that is inside.
Before the pandemic, the council held a block party at the substation that benefited a large number of people in attendance, and TPU arranged for a consultant to do feasibility studies and talk to neighborhood residents about this. that they would like to see done with the property. However, everything was put on hold once COVID hit and TPU had to resume using the property to meet pandemic distancing requirements.
“We were going to have meetings and disseminate information and that’s when the pandemic started. We couldn’t have public meetings to communicate with people and see what they wished to have in this space, so it’s on hold, ”Price said, noting that it will pick up as things return to a more normal state.
Another issue the council is monitoring is the city’s Home in Tacoma project which seeks to change Tacoma’s housing growth strategy, policies and programs to increase housing supply and affordability. The project is not without causing controversy and concern among residents of the city.
“We’re worried they’ll change the zoning, which will give developers quarters and you won’t achieve any of the political goals you’re hoping for,” Price said. “The zoning tool the city uses to achieve this, other cities have used this tool and haven’t met any of the goals of getting better and more affordable housing. You could get more housing but not more housing. affordable housing and this ends up being problematic for neighborhoods This has been true in other cities where similar zoning has occurred.
Price said the council had tried to encourage small pilot programs to help the city understand what policies might work instead of embarking on massive zoning changes without a real plan on how those changes will actually help the city.
“We tried to move the ball in a positive direction because the only policy we have right now to get there is hope and hope is terrible policy.”
Despite the pandemic roadblocks, the North End Neighborhood Council has continued to focus on being a communication hub for the North End and also for people who do not live there but want to keep abreast of it. happening in their city in general. To date, the council has a mailing list of approximately 1,500 people and its Facebook page (Facebook.com/NENCTacoma) has approximately 2,500 subscribers.
“Our dissemination of information is more immediate and more extensive than what the city is going to provide,” said Price. “The best place for people to log in and start familiarizing themselves with what’s going on is to go to our website (NENC.org), follow us on Facebook and subscribe to our mailing list.
The council meets almost every first Monday of the month at 6 p.m. Visit their Facebook page to participate and learn more.