Breaking Down the Walls

Some Discontent Remains, But Others Pleased

But that doesn't mean local residents were happy to see the Seahawks returning. Angry citizens formed a group called Neighborhoods Enduring Seahawk Impacts, which reviewed environmental impact statements, and met regularly with city, Seahawk and UW officials to make sure their neighborhoods didn't take the brunt of the impact of the NFL team's temporary new home.

The Seahawks at Husky Stadium in 1994

The Seahawks—and about 71,000 fans—will be in Husky Stadium this year and in 2001 while their new stadium is built in downtown Seattle. Above is a photo taken in 1994, when the Seahawks played five games in Montlake. Photo by Corky Trewin.

Ironically, while those in Montlake cringe at the prospect of the Seahawks coming, just a mile to the north, others see Seahawk games at Husky Stadium as a glorious opportunity. "What we need to do is find a way to get those 71,000 fans up to the "U" District to shop," says Hart, the La Tienda shop owner and next year's president of the Greater University District Chamber of Commerce. "We need to take advantage of this opportunity to have 70,000 more potential shoppers on our door step."

While things overall are improving, there are still hard feelings about the University. "I have lived here all my life, I went to the UW, but the "U" is not a good neighbor," declares Judy Foss, '69, who lives in Laurelhurst just down the waterfront from Husky Stadium. "There are huge problems with the University building baseball fields, soccer fields and this proposed indoor practice facility on landfill in Portage Bay. That used to be a garbage dump. An earthquake could be a real problem. The Urban Horticulture Center is built on a peat bog dump. What if an earthquake hits?"

"And the University is first and foremost a university. Why would it even consider having the Seahawks play in Husky Stadium? That is going to make our neighborhood a nightmare. The "U" is supposed to be dignified and not have an emphasis on making money off pro sports."

But the UW's role as a neighbor has been appreciated more and more. Ave activists cheered the relocation of KUOW's offices into the old JC Penney Building on the Ave because of the stability and prestige it brings. When 11th Avenue N.E. was torn up last summer for construction, the UW allowed Metro to park its buses in campus parking lots. The UW College of Architecture and Urban Planning will be involved in a facelift and redesign of the beloved University Heights Center for the Community's grounds. And when Chris Curtis, '73, started up the University District Farmers Market back in 1993, she benefited from the help of students in the public relations and marketing program at the UW School of Communications. Her farmers market is now the state's largest.

"While some people have felt the University couldn't be trusted," says Patty Whisler, who heads up The Ave Planning Group, an organization devoted to improving the area adjacent to campus, "there's a lot more understanding of the University as a benefit to the community, and to our lives."

"In the past," adds Chandler, "neighborhoods were afraid of us as the 800-pound gorilla that was going to expand beyond our boundaries. But now we talk about being partners, of understanding each other, and creating situations where we both win."

Jon Marmor, '94, is associate editor of Columns.

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