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Wallingford Community Center focus groups wrap up

July 28, 2009

The Northlake Community Wharf project wrapped up the last of the Wallingford Community Center focus groups last night. For the past couple of months the good folks at Delridge Neighborhood Development Association have let us tag along as they lead focus groups of Wallingford Neighbors through a visioning exercise on what a community center might look like in Wallingford. It usually similar themes: a swimming pool, a place where the neighborhood can feel centered, a place that is welcoming and multi-generational. Right now they are just at the point where the neighborhood is imagining what it might want if resources become available.

For the last 15 minutes or so of these meeting I’ve been able to explain who we are, and detail the rough concept of what the NCW could be: Active small boat programs and access to the water, an interpretive shipyard for heritage vessels, and a space to serve community needs. I then ask a different question: “Given that The Center for Wooden Boats is pursuing this waterfront property in your neighborhood, how would you use it?”

What I’ve learned from this exercise is that because of the limited access to the water, people in Wallingford ( and to a large extent Fremont too) don’t think of Lake Union as being part of their neighborhood. Once the people in these groups started thinking about the possibilities then the ideas and excitement started flowing: What about a fishing pier? Off-boat fish sales? Kayak Storage? Boat rentals? Sailing lessons? Ice cream stand? Water taxi to South Lake Union? BYOB happy hour? It’s been great to see people’s excitement about the possibility of tapping into a neighborhood resource (the lake) that has been there all along but with no real way to access it. Thanks to the Wallingford Community Center planners for letting us play along and we look forward to further collaborations in the future.

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