Thursday, July 28, 2016

A place of their own

City proposes property transfer of Greenwood Senior Center to the PNA:
Public comment requested

by Marty Chakoain

Most of us value security, especially the security of a stable home, and a stable home can be just as important to organizations as it is to families.

Since 1979, the Greenwood Senior Center (GSC) has provided essential services to the community from its home on N 85th Street. Those services were bolstered with financial and volunteer resources when the GSC became a PNA program in 2006. But the GSC facility—the building and the land it sits on—is actually owned by the City of Seattle. The City has allowed the GSC to operate rent free in exchange for the services it provides, and for taking care of the building.

Now the next step in the evolution of the GSC is about to happen: the City has proposed giving the GSC property to the PNA to own and operate permanently. A letter of agreement, jointly signed by the City’s Department of Finance and Administrative Services and the PNA, lays out the conditions: the City would transfer ownership of the property to the PNA at no cost other than the usual expenses that go with any real estate transaction, such as title insurance. In return, the PNA would commit to continuing to use the facility to deliver social and health services through the Greenwood Senior Center, and perhaps someday add new programs that could serve the community.

The City has notified neighbors and GSC participants about the proposed ownership change. (Read the letter.) There is a short period to submit comments either for or against the “sale.” You can comment by emailing or calling 206-684-7154.

Final action, which is not expected until later this year, will depend on a signed agreement between the City and the PNA, and formal approval by the City Council and PNA Board.

Even when that happens, not much will change, at least not right away. The Greenwood Senior Center will continue to do all the important things it does, and the PNA will continue to be responsible for the operation, maintenance, and repair of the building, just as it is today.
But longer term, there are two very important benefits from the title transfer.

First, the Greenwood Senior Center can have the security of knowing that it owns its home, and that no landlord—even a great landlord like the City of Seattle—can ever force it to leave.

Second, the PNA can start thinking about long term investments in the property—adding to, remodeling, or possibly even replacing the building sometime in the future to enable the GSC to better serve its community.

Please show your support for the GSC and PNA and contact the City to provide feedback in this process by emailing or calling 206-684-7154. Thank you!

We also welcome your input and questions about this exciting new development for the PNA--the next phase in growth and evolution for the Greenwood Senior Center! Please contact GSC Director Cecily Kaplan at or 206.297.0875.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Behind the Scenes at Tonnemaker Hill Farm

by Dick  Gillett
Business was brisk last Friday at the Phinney Farmers Market, with Rainier cherries piled high on the table at the Tonnemaker Farm stall. 

Serving the customers were Kayci and Alana, both from Seattle, but both deeply familiar with operations at the 128 acre farm in Eastern Washington. The farm is big on fruit (including several varieties of cherries, with apricots and peaches coming in early to mid-July) and has 60 acres of orchards. A few of the cherry trees are three generations old and still producing. And speaking of generations: four generations of Tonnemaker farmers have farmed in Eastern Washington.

But fruit isn’t the only product you can find at their booth. In season are veggies from most of the rest of their acreage, including summer squash, tomatoes, rhubarb, zucchini and cucumbers. Friday one table featured a variety of packaged organic peppers. “Our crops are rotated annually for soil preservation and also keep pests to a minimum," said Kayci. 

But who actually picks the cherries off the trees and the peppers from the plants? Amazingly, Tonnemakers are involved. Writes a member of the farm team: "Our current harvest crew consists of 2 generations of Tonnemakers, a couple of local long time year-round employees, local high school and college students on summer break, Japanese Agricultural Exchange Trainees and a seasonally variable number of members of 3 Hispanic families, several of which have helped with the short but intense cherry harvest for more than 20 years. Everyone here from the top down is a picker of one crop or another.

"Hand harvesting crops is hard work and everyone here participates - even 80 year old Gene Tonnemaker insisted on donning a picking bag and pitching in.” Whew! 

But  happily for us customers at Phinney Farmers Market, “Life is just a bowl of cherries.”