Thanks to Jeff Lindstrom for writing the following for us after discovering that writing for Wallyhood can be like not just getting Jesse, but being Jesse:
Neighbors. Love them or not we all have them. Some are life-giving to our neighborhoods, like Paul down my street whose parking strip is always so beautifully planted, or the neighbors who occasionally repaint the huge ladybug in the intersection of 49th and Burke. Others well, let’s just say we relish the day when the For Sale sign goes up. However, some neighbors won’t ever move, like the Post Office.
I’d been driving by for several years, noticing the Wallingford Post Office’s growing jungle of a parking lot and sidewalks. However, I didn’t pay that much attention until I actually moved our business into a small building on Stone Way, directly across the street. The piles of debris, leaves, un-mowed parking strips, and graffiti (almost every single sign is tagged) defined the relatively large Post Office property. I thought one day soon I’d see some landscaping company cleaning up. But, nobody came. Asking some of our neighbors, we learned that nobody EVER came. There hadn’t been any cleanup for at least the past three years.
The surrounding neighbors were talking about the disorder, but I discovered nobody I spoke with knew if anyone had said anything to the Post Office. I was finally able to track down and speak with the local Station Manger, Connie. Connie was surprised I was asking about their landscaping, and didn’t understand what the problem might be. She was gracious enough to humor me with a walk around their property and was also shocked to see how bad it was. She said she always parked in their underground lot, and hadn’t actually walked their property in “years”.
I politely pointed out that by City of Seattle ordinance, property owners/landlords are required to maintain the sidewalks and parking strips in front of their home or business. And, didn’t she want to be a good neighbor? Connie was very apologetic, and explained the problem to me. The Post Office has no landscaping budget, zero. The Union who does their maintenance purports to only be responsible for the INSIDE of the facilities, nothing outside. I checked back in with Connie often. Finally, she received permission for a “one time” cleanup. For the first time in several years, it looked great. Then, winter came, the leaves again started falling and piling up. Those are some HUGE trees they have! The sidewalks became dangerous, and I went back to Connie again and again. However, she indicated there would be no cleanup this time; she did not have permission for any further landscape expenditures. It got so bad, I hired at our company expense, clean up of the piles of leaves from their Northern sidewalks all Fall, for the safely of our employees and clients. Even the homeless guy Boggie living in the motorhome on 48th started raking leaves!
I pleaded with Connie for a permanent solution that would keep our neighborhood looking well kept, sidewalks safe, and comply with City requirements. Each time she said she was working on it, but nothing happened. I eventually reached out to Seattle Postmaster General, Trent McNeal, via email, but have yet to receive a response from him or his office. In desperation, I reached out to Eric at Wallyhood.org thinking he might want to do a story. He suggested I reach out to the Seattle Post Office Media contact Ernie Swanson for comment, which I did. (Thanks Eric!) Ernie immediately emailed me to let me know a cleanup would happen soon, and that an employee would also be working on it. Ernie also mentioned that Connie will be having an employee keeping the grounds clean, and be brining in an outside vendor to keep the trees, shrubs, and bushes looking good. So much for no landscaping budget.
When asked to comment on the dispute with the Union workers not doing landscaping, Ernie’s only response was “There is nothing more to add”.
It’s disappointing to have a neighbor not maintain their property, let alone the Post Office, a pseudo-governmental organization which I would expect to comply with City ordinances. But, thanks to Wallyhood.org and a little perseverance, I’m hopeful they will now get their act together. And, if we are lucky, the internal dispute at our Post Office will no longer continue to blight the surrounding Wallingford community. For now, their property and sidewalks look good after the second cleanup in three years, and I can stop spending my time standing in line to speak with the Station Manager. That is, unless the grass again gets long, and the leaves start to fall…………