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2023 Neighborhood Grants Program Results

For the second consecutive year, the City of Burien accepted applications for the Neighborhood Grants Program to support community-led improvement projects. The City offered to pay up to $5,000 per project and community members were required to match the City’s contribution with local resources of volunteer labor, donated materials, donated professional services, or funds.

City staff looked for projects that fostered a sense of community and created local improvements in an equitable manner. Project applications were evaluated on the quality of the project, neighborhood participation, visibility, and benefit to the public. Projects were required to be freely accessible for all.

Three projects were selected to receive funding. Two of the community projects involved planting trees and native plant species across four Burien parks. The third project supports sustainability improvements at New Start Community Garden (“Shark Garden”).

Newly planted oak tree in Chelsea Park.

A New Oak Tree for the Playground at Chelsea Park

A group of Burien residents applied for funding to plant an oak tree in Chelsea Park. They collaborated with City staff on the design, tree selection, and planting location. This involved preparing the site by cutting and removing sod, amending the soil with compost, and planting the tree. Volunteers will continue to maintain and water this tree to ensure it has a good chance at survival.

Project neighborhood liaison Caitlin Moorleghen shared, “The Burien Neighborhood Grants Program is a great way to get involved in the community and realize improvements here and now. Planting a tree at the Chelsea Park playground will bring shade to the area for years to come. The neighbors who helped plant the tree can all take pride in knowing that individuals can make positive impacts to the community.”

More Than 100 New Plants for Arbor Lake, Dottie Harper, and Salmon Creek Parks

The Burien Forest Stewards applied for funding for replanting projects in three Burien parks. The project proposed planting native trees and shrubs in areas previously cleared of non-native weeds. In 2023, volunteers contributed 130 hours of labor, planting 104 shrubs and trees historically found in the region, including western redcedar (Thuja plicata), Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus), mockorange (Philadelphus lewisii), vine maple (Acer circinatum), and sword fern (Polystichum munitum). Check out the new plantings in Arbor Lake, Dottie Harper, and Salmon Creek parks!

“The event went great, and we beat the rain!  I had 5 adult volunteers and a child (cute kid, age 2), plus Maya. Together we got all 33 plants in the ground, mulched, and the site cleaned up before anyone got really wet. All my volunteers voiced the opinion that it felt good to do something positive for the community and/or the park, and for nature. Also, that they will look forward to watching “their” plants grow.” – Beth McCasland

“At our November community planting event, our small but mighty group included the Green Burien Partnership Coordinator, a park neighbor, a neighborhood cat, a school counselor, and Robel, a student from Tyee High School. This was Robel’s first volunteer experience since moving to Seattle, but he was a pro with the shovel and helped us plant over 50 trees and bushes in a newly weeded area that we purchased with the 2024 Neighborhood Grant program. He said he missed working with the earth, since leaving his garden back home in Ethiopia, and was excited to join future events and opportunities to plant and restore our parks in the city. His enthusiasm was contagious, and our small but mighty crew had a great event.” – Anna Helland

Renewable Energy for the Shark Garden

The New Start Community Garden (Shark Garden) is a nonprofit school, community, and botanical garden in Burien. Shark Garden members partner with volunteers and at-risk youth to grow organic produce for the White Center Food Bank, donating over 2,000 pounds each year. Additionally, Shark Garden offers both learning and work opportunities to participating Highline School District students, eighty-five percent of whom are Black, Indigenous, and other youth of color and have also faced court involvement and other challenges.

Key Tech Labs, on behalf of Shark Garden, applied for $5,000 in funding to create a second off-grid solar system to showcase renewable energy, power garden events, and increase food production. These microgrids will be used to power the garden, community events, an outdoor kitchen area with cooking demonstrations, lighting, security cameras, and a future incinerating toilet.

Shark Garden’s off-grid system is also supported by funding from the Port of Seattle and King Conservation District, totaling $41,000. The Neighborhood Grants Program award will fund the purchase of batteries for the off-grid system, as well as educational outreach and future events for the community about renewable energy and food production.

The project is expected to be completed during the spring of 2024.

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