July 7, 2009 Opportunities for planters in Ballard/Crown Hill

Updated Action Item Status 7/31/09

Attendees:
Rob Mattson (DON), Catherine Wheatbrook (Crown Hill Business Assn), Shannon Dunn (East Ballard Community Assn),  Dawn Hemminger (East Ballard Community Assn)

Presenter:
Darren Morgan – Field Operations Manager, SDOT Urban Forestry
206-684-0485   darren.morgan@seattle.gov

Planter specifications:

  • 30 planters available. Recently installed on 3rd Ave downtown
  • Planters weigh 125 lbs
  • Composite material on the interior with a concrete outer coating.
  • One hole in the center on the bottom for drainage

Identified Opportunities for planters:

  • Medians along 14th Ave NW between NW 65th and Market St (approx 20-22 planters)
  • Existing traffic circles that currently have no landscaping
  • Crown Hill School/Park
  • Possibly use planters as chicanes for traffic slowdown? Unsure if this is feasible.

The realities of maintaining planters in the city:

  • Planters require A LOT of watering, requiring approx 14-16 weeks of watering a year, during the dry months. The logistics of watering include:
    • where is the water going to come from?
    • who will pay for the water?
    • who will do the watering?
    • how do you ensure safety of the person doing the watering in/near the right of way?
    • how do you ensure that the watering will get done?
  • Planters require continuous maintenance. The logistics of maintenance are similar to watering:
    • who will maintain the planters, i.e. ensure plants and planters are in good condition
    • who will replace plants when needed?
    • how do you ensure safety of the person doing the maintenance in/near the right of way?

To Do – EBCA:

  • Provide a site plan along 14th Ave NW between Market and NW 65th for proposed location of planters
    (Erin and Shannon are putting together the site plan. Should be complete by Aug 7th).
  • Begin discussions with local businesses who have offered plant material and services to identify plant selection, maintenance requirements, and timeline.
  • Expore the creation of a planter steward group and include training (possibly from our donors) on care and maintenance.
  • Identify what will be needed to ensure a successful planter installation and maintenance program. Based on our needs, determine what we believe the city’s involvement would need to be (what would we need city to be responsible for?)
  • Provide Darren with copy of EBCA by-laws and contingency plan for planter maintenance in case of dissolution of EBCA or EBCA is unable to supervise maintenance.

To Do – Darren:

  • Provide EBCA with a map of 14th Ave NW between Market St and NW 65th that shows the dimensions and layout of the medians for EBCA to use to create site plan
    (Darren provided electronic images to Dawn)
  • Provide specifications for the planters (Darren send specifications to Dawn)
  • Investigate the cost of the watering service used by the city and determine if the medians could be added to the service at the city’s rate, but EBCA would pay for the service separately.
    (Darren has a call in to Vinson Bros, price estimate should be in next week for weekly watering. Three Companies that provide watering services that the city uses include: the Conservation Corps, Vinson Brothers, and NW Center contact: (Steve Crutcher General Manager, Landscape & Facilities Cell: (206) 963-3949 Fax: (206) 301-0527 scrutcher@nwcenter.org))
  • Provide requirements/regulations for landscaping in traffic circles so we can determine if these planters could be installed within traffic circles.
    (This is from the ROW improvement manual at http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/rowmanual/manual/4_25.asp “Note: the use of above grade planters is encouraged only where below grade conditions or other constraints right-of-way tree pits.” (I think that sentence is a little botched, but you get the idea…). Traffic Operations would not allow these in traffic circles. Any above ground structure in the right of way would have to be approved by the City Traffic Engineer, and Street Use would have to sign off with an issued annual permit. Physical obstructions are not allowed because emergency vehicles need to be able to navigate the intersection at higher speeds and may run through part of the circle. The curbs of TC’s are actually designed to be “mountable” for this reason. Visibility is also an issue, hence the 24″ limit on plant material within 30′ of an intersection. I have been unable to locate the source of these requirements in either the ROWIM or SMC – Jane said she would send me the links to them. As it stands now: Plant material within 30′ of an intersection must not mature more than 24″. Rocks, boulders, posts, bricks, fences, political signs or other obstructions are not allowed in traffic circles. Anything growing above this height or placed in the traffic circle without authorization may be cut back or removed).
  • Find out if the City expects Ballard to take all of the planters or nothing, i.e. could Ballard only take 22 of the 30 if homes cannot be found for all of them. 
    (It would be no problem to utilize less than 30 for the project. It has come to my knowledge that SDOT does have a use for a few of the planters, and it may no longer be possible to use 30 in Ballard).
  • Talk to Patti Quirk about the permitting options for planters in the median along 14th Ave NW. EBCA has received tentative approval from Traffic Operations to install planters in the medians. It would be helpful to consolidate the permitting and minimize the costs by addressing the medians that will have planters installed from Market to 65th as one entity.
    (The permit would be for the project collectively, and would not be written until the MOA is signed and agreed upon. Permit would be renewable annually and would require proof of $1 Million liability insurance, listing CoS as additionally insured. Cost of permit is TBD.)
  • Provide a draft agreement/maintenance contract based on past experience to ensure a successful and sustainable project.
    (Draft is in progress, which will attempt to cover all eventualities dealing with maintenance such as watering, plant replacement, vandalism, graffiti, etc. There will be language describing bond requirements which would cover the cost of removing the planters from the right of way. There may also be some language about safe work practices).
  • Find out if the city is supposed to be maintaining the medians along 14th (not including the median at 58th Ave NW). If so, then there are high weeds growing at the ends of the medians north of NW 58th that are blocking visibility for vehicles and pedestrians approaching the intersections.
    (SDOT Urban Forestry section maintains two of the landscaped medians on 14th Ave NW between Market and NW 65th st. The medians that are not landscaped (gravel) are essentially unmaintained. SDOT Street Maintenance section was called about the weedy sightline obstruction and quickly resolved with the issue).

Rough Time Line

  • July/August – EBCA work with donors to develop plant list and logisitics
  • August/Sep – Work with city on permitting and maintenance/stewardship contracts
  • October 17th – EBCA has an Adopt A Street Cleanup scheduled for this day We’d like to use this day for the community to assist in the planting.

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