Elders show up in force at City Hall to "Defend the Central"
The steps of Seattle City Hall were packed with elders who came out to show their support of Council Member Sawant's "Defend the Central" campaign in which Sawant is pressuring Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan to proceed with the process of handing over the Central Area Senior Center (The Central) and Byrd Barr Place to community non-profit organizations. This was to occur last month and since the deadline has passed, many community members have become anxious as to the fate of these two institutions due to the rampant rate of gentrification in the Central District.
Sawant and various other speakers including Africatown's own K. Wyking Garrett as well as Diane Ferguson of Central Area Senior Center and Rev. Harriett Walden of Mothers For Police Accountability all expressed their concerns about to the future of both structures. Garrett also mentioned the old Fire Station 6 on 23rd and Yesler that as well is slated to Africatown but is yet to occur.
The feisty group of seniors, many with canes and a few in wheelchairs, were holding protest signs that read "Defend the Central" and "Save Byrd Barr Place". As the press conference was ending the elders joined in a chant of "no more delays" with the hopes that Mayor Durkan would hear their voices echoing throughout the City Hall lobby.
The press conference was followed by a meeting in the council chambers in which community members were given a minute to make public remarks on the issue and as well to seek guidance as to how best move the transfer process forward to ensure that the Central Area Senior Center and Byrd Barr Place stay in the community's hands for perpetuity.
We have reached out to Mayor Durkan's office for comment and have yet to receive any feedback.