[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a Letter to the Editor, submitted by a verified resident. It does not necessarily reflect the opinions of South King Media, nor its staff:]
Dear Burien Councilmembers,
A man named Omar Jamaludin lost his life due to a hit and run fatality on Des Moines Memorial Drive South (DMMDS) across the street from my home last week, near S. 124th St.
I didn’t know Mr. Jamaludin, but my heart goes to his friends and family. This is a shocking loss.
News outlets reported the location of this crime as being at S. 120th and Roseberg Ave S., but I know this was on my street because I had to duck under police tape when I left my home for a walk that day. On a recent morning, as I paid my respects and placed a small bronze bell on the sidewalk memorial that was created for him, I could see that this was the site featured in the Fox 13 report on the crime.
DMMDS has bronze stars embedded in its sidewalks for a couple of miles because it’s a Living Road of Remembrance to King County casualties of WWI. Unfortunately, like much of this road, the stretch between S. 120th and S. 124th Streets is unsafe and in a blighted condition with speeding vehicles, inadequate traffic control, litter everywhere, and trees falling from ivy and other invasive weeds.
Aside from the crosswalks, often ignored, there is little here to slow cars on this section of the road.
Within the last year, a truck swerved at me at top speed as I walked on the sidewalk here, the passenger reaching out and hitting me in the back with his hand. More recently, a passenger (or driver) of a different car threw a small liquor bottle at me, hitting me. Just 2 blocks further north is where the fatal police shooting of a man brandishing a gun occurred a couple of months ago. Gunfire is not uncommon on this road. I hear it from my apartment.
The ravine along the sidewalk on DMMDS near where Mr. Jamaludin was hit – and where I often walk – is littered with couches and other furniture as well as soda cans, candy wrappers, road debris, and so on, all sliding toward the creek. It appears to be a dumping site. Since I moved here 2 years ago, out-of-control ivy has turned the trees growing on these slopes into giant fragile windsails, causing several to crash into the ravine. More than once, I’ve stepped over tree branches large enough to seriously hurt pedestrians that had landed on the sidewalk. If the invasive weeds are not controlled here, all the trees will likely be lost and pedestrians will remain in danger.
Japanese knotweed – according to a recent BBC article, “The World’s Most Invasive Weed” – infests the creek bed below, vying for control with the ivy and blackberry. This is the creek that leads eventually to Tub Lake bog, a rare jewel in North SeaTac Park, an important aquifer recharge resource for our area, and one of the last true bogs left in the Seattle area. Fragments of this weed could travel into the park from this site and establish new stands.
Across the street from the falling trees, large rocks have recently tumbled out of stone retaining walls, that in some areas are taller than I am, suggesting that the wall may now be unstable.
The unsafe conditions and environmental devastation here feels like abandonment – of the community, of the pedestrians, of those huddled in sleep on the sidewalks near stores at S. 120th Street.
I recently wrote to Burien City’s Councilmembers, asking them consider actions to make this stretch of road safer and less desolate. What comes to mind for me:
- Putting more speed limit signs on the road with surveillance cameras and strong enforcement.
- Bringing in traffic safety experts to figure out how to slow the traffic – perhaps with guardrails on the sidewalks and speed humps or road-narrowing structures installed.
- Investing in work crews and equipment to pull the couches and other litter and furniture out of the creek.
- Having restoration crews remove / manage the ivy, blackberry, and Japanese knotweed that are killing the trees. and menacing our local waterways and bog.
- Planting new trees and creek-cooling native plants.
- Installing public trash cans on the road.
- Posting no littering / dumping signs.
- Enforcing the littering/dumping laws – perhaps using the same cameras monitoring the speed limit.
- Sending litter pickup crews here regularly.
Perhaps funding for restoration of the road as a memorial could be sought. After all, there is this Corridor Management Plan that the city is part of: Des Moines Memorial Drive Corridor Management Plan. Maybe there are federal and county funds. Maybe funds related to the Boulevard Park community plan could be used here. There are also likely to be considerable funds for addressing tree health/ tree loss for jurisdictions that apply for them, including potentially funds from the the King County Conservation Futures program, the HEAL Act, the Climate Commitment Act, the recently passed House Bill 1216 to “protect Washington’s urban forests.”
Surely, we can improve this road. By doing so, we may very well save lives in the future.
– Noemie Maxwell
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