[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a Letter to the Editor, written by a Reader. It does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The B-Town Blog nor its staff:]

LETTER: Resident challenges everyone to consider ways to improve community 3Greetings City Council,

I am writing as I was unable to participate in the Monday March 6 public comments at the City Council.

First of all, thank you to council members and community folks who put in the time to make our city better for us all. I too have been unhappy with seeing our community struggle with increasing violence and uncivil behavior. It was good to hear that there are so many citizens doing what they can to make things better, from cleaning up public spaces to engaging with others to try and encourage more civility. No one likes to see or smell garbage. It is also understandable how folks react with fear, especially in the face of real or perceived threats. Unfortunately, more police and enforcement will not resolve the many challenges Burien faces. As Mr. Upthegrove so clearly pointed out, Burien has a limited budget and we can only pay for so much.

With that said, I would challenge everyone, council and citizens alike, to consider other ways we have to improve our community. Burien has folks who make me proud to have moved here 13 years ago from McMicken Heights (SeaTac). I see them quietly, and often without appreciation, doing what they know will help our community. When Town Square development stalled in 2009, unpaid artists and volunteers installed art and gardens on the vacant site in downtown. The alley between 152nd and 153rd has been turned into an open-air art gallery that has helped reduce the gang based graffiti there. For 20 years we had a New Futures operation at the Heights / Alturas. That service was shuttered a few years ago due to lack of funding, but we could bring it back. Those who worked with New Futures, know that their work with children (and their adult family) helped many kids resist the lure of gang and street life. It is a shame that we could not as a community help that work continue at Alturas. There are Para Los Ninos, and other independent groups, that actively try to help our children learn and succeed. We could work with HSD-401 school related programs for youth that are vulnerable, such as the New Start School and the “Shark Garden”. Burien has only one small overnight shelter to serve the homeless. The idea of converting unused publicly owned buildings for social programs has merit, but will require funding. In short, I would say to Mr. Hemp, thanks for getting people to show up. Now, let’s find solutions beyond “More Police”, it won’t be easy.

– Douglas Sykes

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