Last month Andrew Taylor, Capitol Hill resident and Chair of the East District Council, had a conversation with Marlow Harris, a Capitol Hill realtor and advocate. The two discussed the need for a neighborhood tool library; and they’re not the only ones who agree that this is a community gap to be filled.
Sustainable Capitol Hill, the Hill’s non-profit organization whose mission is to build an eco-friendly neighborhood, started talking Tool Library more than a year ago. The project began with enthusiasm, but has since been at a standstill due to a lack of funding (the result of not enough volunteers), and no suitable location for the tools and workspace.
The idea of keeping the Tool Library in a large storage container was proposed – and still might work – but parking it on a street is expensive, and would require that the container be moved every few weeks.
After learning of the location problem from Emergency Preparedness Specialist Debbie Goetz, Taylor tossed Harris and the City of Seattle the idea of stationing the Capitol Hill Tool Library at Miller Community Center, which also, conveniently, serves as a Red Cross emergency location and an emergency communication hub.
“Many of the tools would be needed for both efforts… The Ron K. Bills Play Fountain at Miller Community Center re-circulates, filters and brominates its 50,000 gallons of water, so we also have ample emergency water supplies. Miller Community Center has ample indoor facilities, and the playfield and grass areas offer a large outdoor area for tents, helicopter landings, etc.” Taylor reasoned, adding that Miller Community Center serves both Capitol Hill and the Central District.
But Mel Bruchett of Sustainable Capitol Hill told The Capitol Hill Times that her group had already made contact with Miller Community Center, and that, at the time, it produced no fruit.
Gina Hicks, also of Sustainable Capitol Hill, said that the idea was well-received, but that the timing was off, since her main contact at Miller Community Center was about to go on maternity leave.
“What we had talked about at that point was the possibility of putting a container in their parking lot so that we could have some kind of combination of doing something inside of the building, but having everything outside of the building, since they don’t have any storage space,” Hicks said. “The gal who I spoke with liked the idea because it would increase what was going on at the facility. They were having some budget issues, and so they could show more use and get more hours, so she was definitely onboard with it.”
So, it’s not a “no.” It’s a “lets keep talking.”
For the conversation to continue, more people within the community need to sign on to the project and contribute, since a container for the tool library will require startup cash, and a steering community needs to be formed for the sake of grants.
Taylor hoped for feedback about the idea’s potential, but, to date, hasn’t received a response from the city departments that he reached out to – the Seattle Department of Energy, the Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation, the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods, and the Mayor’s Office.
He insists, however, that the issue of a Tool Library is timely, since single-family homes in Capitol Hill are declining as fast as townhouses, condos, and high-rises are being developed.
“Many newer townhomes and condos in the area have limited storage area for either tools or emergency supplies,” Taylor said. “Likewise, Capitol Hill Housing manages many affordable apartment units in our area with the same storage issues.”
For more information or to get involved visit sustainablecapitolhill.org.