High up on the hill above Magnuson Park, there have been too many lows of late.
That’s where the Solid Ground housing development stands, which includes many families transitioned out of homelessness or in need of additional support.
It’s also where Charleena Lyles was shot and killed by Seattle police in a controversial incident. Then two weeks ago, a promoter canceled “Movies at Magnuson," citing a public safety concern. Blame quickly shifted to the housing development.
“I thought that was extremely unfortunate,” said Lhorna Murray, who lives in the same complex at Lyles and saw online claims that neighbor kids were at fault for canceling the summer time tradition. “They (the suspects) were children of color, and there were some people in our broader community that attributed that to our children here.”
But Murray acknowledged something needed to change. She went right to City Hall and told the anonymous online commenters that she was going to try a be a difference.
“We’re the people you’re saying that are doing this, but we’re the only ones down at City Hall asking for funding for security in the park; join, don’t be against us, join us and make this a safe environment.”
She was surprised at what happened next. It was not the Seattle process as usual.
City Councilmember Rob Johnson heard her public testimony and found some extra change in the city coffers. He talked to SDOT about an unused $75,000 and crafted an amendment to reroute it towards extra security and support services at Magnuson. A Council Committee unanimously approved the idea as part of the supplemental budget.
Johnson also says he’s targeted extra money from other departments to pay for additional parks department support, including extra hours at the Magnuson Community Center. There is also extra money for new lighting and space to extend weekend hours for the #62 bus. They are all things that Murray asked for, as a way to keep young people engaged and involved, and away from activities which may get them into trouble. The measures are all expected to be approved by the full council on Monday.
“This is the first time we've seen government really work, and people come together from the outside community and care about people,” said Murray. “A lot of time people don’t ask us what our opinions are, making decision for communities like this."
She added, “(I’m) extremely pleasantly surprised, and grateful. It doesn’t happen a lot.”
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