FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For further information, contact:
Wendi Dunlap-Simpson or Jason Simpson
NEW BEACON HILL LIBRARY COULD DESTROY FIVE HOMES, DISPLACE FAMILIES
Seattle, 21 February 2000—-Five homes and a business are in danger of being destroyed to build the new Beacon Hill branch of the Seattle Public Library, against ongoing neighborhood opposition.
The half-block site at S. Stevens Street and 17th Avenue S., known as the "17th and Stevens" or "Chin Auto" site, is one of three finalist sites in the branch library siting process. The site contains five homes built between 1908 and 1920, and an auto repair business. The other sites under consideration are the current library site at 2519 15th Avenue S. in conjunction with adjacent properties, and the Wells Fargo Bank property at South Forest Street and Beacon Avenue. The Seattle Public Library Board of Trustees will make their site decision at a special meeting on Tuesday, February 29.
The 17th and Stevens site is home to 15-20 residents in five well-kept homes, including a family who purchased and moved into their home just this October—without knowing their new home was endangered. More than 40 site residents, property owners, and neighbors have signed a petition opposing the destruction of homes on the site. The North Beacon Hill Council has sponsored a resolution against any destruction of residential housing to build the library, and City Council–members Nick Licata and Richard Conlin, as well as State Representatives Kip Tokuda and Sharon Tomiko Santos, have written the library board opposing the selection of the 17th and Stevens site.
Despite opposition from the community, the library board has continued to consider the 17th and Stevens site. Some site residents feel that they are being railroaded, and that the interests of businesses such as the Wells Fargo Bank are being given priority over the interests of the neighborhood’s residents.
According to site resident and homeowner Jason Simpson, the 17th and Stevens site "violates the library’s own site selection criteria. It’s inconsistent with the neighborhood plan, it would place a library and a 20,000 foot parking lot right into a residentially-zoned block, and there would be potentially high legal costs and community conflict."
The library board appears to be willing to use eminent domain to condemn the property, a fact that worries Simpson greatly. "It would be impossible to relocate all of us into a location with the same or even similar history, design, amenities, or community, especially not one that is still affordable with the skyrocketing housing prices in the Seattle area." His wife Wendi Dunlap-Simpson adds, "We are terrified of losing the home we love. No one should have to go through this."
For more information, please contact Jason Simpson (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Wendi Dunlap-Simpson (email@example.com). A web page about the Simpson house on the 17th and Stevens site can be found at http://slumberland.org/ourhouse.html.