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Entries from April 2010

Ballard Bridge painting to affect pedestrian & bicycle traffic this summer

April 28th, 2010 by Cory Bergman

One of the great things about Queen Anne in the summer is that the location provides a number of captivating and enjoyable routes for walking and cycling to and around town! But if you’re looking forward to taking a stroll over the Ballard Bridge in the coming months, you might have to put your plans on hold. This summer, Seattle Department of Transportation crews will be painting one half of the Ballard Bridge, affecting pedestrian and bicycle traffic.

Rick Sheridan with SDOT tells us that pedestrian access on either the east or west side of the bridge will be shut down entirely during the painting. The other side of the bridge will remain open. No word on when painting will start or which side of the bridge crews will work on first. The side that isn’t painted this year will be painted next year.

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Seattle Center now seeking proposals for redevelopment of remaining Fun Forest area

April 27th, 2010 by Thea

[Editor's note: This story has been edited since it was originally posted in order to clarify a few points concerning the various Seattle Center RFPs.]

Back in December Seattle Center cleared away the rides in the north section of the Fun Forest, now known as Center Square, to make way for an array of project proposals for “interesting installations and activities to carry the space through to 2012, when Seattle Center will make use of the space to house activities related to the 50th anniversary celebration,” wrote Director of Communications Deborah Daoust. Center Square is intended to be used as public space, and according to Daoust, it will maintain this role after the 50th anniversary celebrations conclude.

Center representatives hoped to fill the space by testing a range of one-time events as well as longer installations, but admitted being “disappointed” by the lack of variety in the proposals they received. According to Daoust, though the Cente rwidely promoted the call for RFPs, only eight proposals were submitted.

This search for RFPs happened to coincide with another large and widely debated proposal for a 44,000 square foot glass house on the Center campus that would include, among other amenities, a Dale Chihuly exhibit. But Daoust says this project is not t0 be confused with the open and public Center Square space.

The proposal for the Chihuly Exhibition was first presented to Seattle Center in the summer of 2009.  After the Mayor’s Office and City Council gave Seattle Center the go ahead to pursue the proposal, Seattle Center worked with the Wright family on an agreement for a long-term lease (5 years, with 3 5-year options) of the space.  As the proposal became public, it received some opposition, and so Seattle Center decided to expand the public process and issue the RFP to allow others to come forward with their proposals. These proposals must be fully funded (no city contribution), and they can provide revenue and public benefits in varying degrees.

(Photo from the Seattle Center website).

Just last week the Center continued its effort to find a number of suitable bids for the space, issuing a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the redevelopment of “all or some portion of the 1 ½ acre Fun Forest south area” on Friday, April 23. According to the Center, the rides still remaining in the area south of the Seattle Center Monorail station, including 21,600 square-foot open space and concrete brick arcade building located southeast of Center House, will be removed by the end of September 2010 to accommodate new exhibits. Here’s a little information on what the Center is looking for:

Seattle Center, a City of Seattle department, will consider a broad range of proposals for temporary, long-term use (up to 20 years) of the area in keeping with the vision and mission of the department and the aspirations of the Seattle Center Century 21 Master Plan.

Seattle Center will accept proposals for revenue generating activities as well as those that return substantial public benefits. Selection criteria include a proponent’s demonstrated ability to fully fund, implement and operate the proposal.

The RFP states the preference for public use of the space to commence no later than summer 2011. The desire is to have a completed attraction in place by the six-month celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair in 2012.

Proposals are due by June 4, 2010. For more information on the RFP process and how to submit, check the project page or contact Neal Erickson at Neal.Erickson@seattle.gov.

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Man sets fire to Ride the Ducks building

April 27th, 2010 by Thea

Police are investigating a strange arson that occurred early this morning, Tuesday, April 27 at the Ride the Ducks of Seattle building, located in the 500 block of Broad St. just across from Seattle Center and the EMP in Lower Queen Anne.

(Photo courtesy of KING5, reposted with permission).

According to the SPD Blotter, officers responded to an assist request from the Seattle Fire Department at the building at approximately 12:39 a.m., when firefighters reported that a Ride the Ducks employee had let them into the building and informed them of the exact location of the fire. When officers contacted the 50-year-old man, he admitted to setting the fire–but even stranger still, was the story behind it. From the Blotter:

He claimed that he set the building on fire because he was being chased by two unknown men from his apartment several blocks away. The suspect stated that he ran to the business where he works in an attempt to get away from the men. He further claimed that after he entered the building and locked the door and set the alarm, the unknown men began breaking the windows of the building in an attempt to reach him. The suspect stated that one of the men then went onto the roof of the building and cut the telephone lines, thus preventing him from calling 911. The suspect stated that he then went to a second floor office and intentionally set a fire. He stated that he hoped the fire would set off the smoke alarms that would alert the Fire Department who would then call the police and he could get the help he needed. The suspect stated that plan wasn’t working fast enough, so he jumped out the second story window and ran to the 200 Block of 5th Avenue North where he called 911.

The man then reportedly returned to the building after calling police. According to the SPD report, “there was no indication that the phone lines had been cut or that any windows had been broken.”

The suspect was arrested and booked into King County Jail for Investigation of Arson. “Drugs may be a factor in this case,” wrote SPD in the incident report, adding that detectives will continue to investigate.

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Queen Anne’s Swedish Women’s Chorus to host annual spring concert & auction Friday

April 27th, 2010 by Thea

Ballard may have Scandinavian pride in troves, but here in Queen Anne we have the Swedish Women’s Chorus! The Chorus, a staple of Swedish heritage in Seattle since 1951, is having its annual spring concert and auction this Friday, April 30 at the Swedish Cultural Center, located at 1920 Dexter Ave N–just in time to kick off Sweden Week at the Seattle Center (May 2 to 9).

Doors open at 6 p.m. and the concert will begin at 7 p.m. Drinks, hors d’oeuvres, and gift baskets (part of the silent auction) will be available for purchase. All proceeds will be benefit the Chorus.

Anyone interested in joining the Chorus is welcome to drop in on one of the group’s weekly meetings, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. every Tuesday from September through May.

No Swedish nor an audition is necessary to join, just a love for singing with a bunch of great ladies!  For more information, please contact Judy Womack Judy317317@msn.com or 206-937-3285.

(Thanks to Annika Dragovich for the photo!)

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Lane closures on Ballard Bridge this week

April 26th, 2010 by Thea

Heading to north Seattle in the next couple of days? You might want to reroute your commute to bypass Ballard, or plan for extra traffic time–SDOT will be closing lanes over the Ballard Bridge this week for repairs. On Tuesday, April 27 the right northbound lane will be closed from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and on Wednesday, April 28 the right southbound lane will be closed during the same hours. SDOT says motorists should expect delays.

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PPQA to unveil completed Green Gateways project at community celebration Saturday

April 26th, 2010 by Thea

Picture Perfect Queen Anne has been working to beautify the entrances of the Upper Queen Anne business district along Queen Anne Ave N at Galer and McGraw through the Green Gateways program. Beginning with the construction of curb bulbs last year, the group has been busy raising money and organizing volunteers to help “green” these intersections and make them more friendly for pedestrians and passersby.

(Photo courtesy of PPQA).

Last week PPQA reached its fundraising goal of $16,000 to complete the Green Gateways project and cover landscaping and maintenance for the 2,200 square feet of garden space for the next two years, a feat PPQA Treasurer Elaine Talbot attributes to “the overwhelming generosity of our neighborhood residents, organizations, and business people,” alongside support from the Office of Economic Development and SDOT.

To commemorate the completion of the project, PPQA has planned a community celebration at the Galer gateway (meet at the foot of the Galer Stairs, at the intersection of Queen Anne Ave N and Galer) this Saturday, May 1 at 12:30 p.m., where they will unveil the paving stones and fully landscaped curb bulbs.

“We couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome of the Green Gateways Project,” said PPQA founder Kathy King in a press release last week. “Queen Anne is one of Seattle’s most walkable neighborhoods. Pedestrian safety and a family friendly environment are important to our neighborhood and the city. Not only will we have welcoming spaces, we will, with the engraved paving stone walkway, have a historic reminder of the people who made our neighborhood what it is today.”

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Dine Out in Queen Anne Thursday, Help Fight AIDS

April 26th, 2010 by Thea

The 17th Annual Dine Out For Life event is this Thursday, April 29, when 150 restaurants throughout Western Washington will donate 30 percent of each diner’s bill all day to support social services for those with HIV and AIDS. The proceeds will benefit the Lifelong AIDS Alliance, a non-profit organization committed to preventing the spread of HIV and providing advocacy and life support services, including the delivery of fresh meals and groceries to the hungry, for those in the community whose lives are affected by HIV.

Dining Out For Life is a great way to support the community and have fun, doing something we do everyday. Everyone dines out, so why not dine out and have your meal make a positive difference?” said Lifelong spokesman Trevor DeWitt in a press release last week.

Participating restaurants in Queen Anne include Caffe Vita, Eat Local, Hilltop Ale House, McMenamins, Pasta Bella, Ponti Seafood Grill and Portage. See a full list of participating restaurants citywide here.

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The Lights & Unnatural Helpers celebrate record releases at Easy Street Tuesday

April 26th, 2010 by Thea

Easy Street Records is hosting a joint record release party for both Unnatural Helpers and The Lights tomorrow, Tuesday, April 27. Swing by at 6 p.m. to party with the bands as they celebrate their respective albums–the Unnatural Helpers’ Cracked Love and Other Drugs and The Lights vinyl release Failed Graves.

(As always, thanks to Easy Street for the photos).

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Update on Aurora Bridge suicide fence

April 26th, 2010 by Doug Alder

We’ve gotten word that construction of the suicide prevention fence across the Aurora Bridge won’t happen tonight or tomorrow night. An equipment problem has caused a delay in the project. WSDOT tells us there’s a chance work could start later this week.

WSDOT conducted a test last week to gauge the noise level of the drilling equipment (pictured above). Greg Phipps from WSDOT tells us those tests provided some good news – things may not be quite as noisy as first thought.

My first impression was that the drills (there is one for concrete and one for steel) were much smaller than I expected. My second impression is that the drilling was much quieter than I expected. The drilling will be noisy, but not extremely noisy as the stories on this blog have suggested. At about 60-75 feet away the drilling was not audible. The true test, of course, will be at night when there is less traffic noise, and when the work is over water where the sound carries more. The grain of salt is that this was my impression and not a scientific judgment, and I expect there will be some skepticism as this is coming from a WSDOT communications guy, so I encourage you to see and hear for yourself when construction starts.

Of course, nearby residents in Queen Anne, Wallingford and Fremont will be the ultimate judges. The 24-hour noise hotline is 206-390-5697. Track the project here.

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Community considers prevalence of graffiti in Queen Anne, how best to handle future vandalism

April 26th, 2010 by Thea

[Editor’s note: For the sake of reporting on graffiti in Queen Anne we have included some photos of vandalism in the neighborhood. However, in an effort to not endorse or encourage vandalism, we have chosen photos that are blurred or show only part of a tag).

Two months ago Queen Anne residents woke up to find graffiti 15 feet tall sprawled across both walls of Counterbalance Park, at the corner of Queen Anne Ave N and Roy St. The next day Alex Braun, the manager of both buildings adjacent to the park’s walls–The Willis condominiums and the Barclay Court retail building–set to work to wash the paint away.

The first eleven feet of the wall had been sealed, and so the paint easily lifted off the concrete. However, the concrete above the 11-foot mark was unprotected, causing the paint to soak in. It took several weeks before the clean-up was complete and the tag entirely removed.

Although graffiti in any urban environment is not uncommon, the size and nature of this particular incident sparked discussion in the Queen Anne community. Some residents claimed vandalism had increased in recent years, while others said graffiti always had been and always would be part of the neighborhood landscape.

Braun has personally cleaned graffiti off the walls and buildings near Counterbalance Park “countless times” in the 11 years he’s been living and working next to this Lower Queen Anne corner. “It’s always been the same at my building,” he said.

“Last week alone I had–and you have to understand that I also clean up the traffic signs and parking signs that are right outside my building–so those included, last Tuesday I had two big graffities on the building–big like three feet long and a foot wide–and two on signs. So that’s a total of four on Tuesday. And then on Friday morning I had three more, so that’s seven just last week,” he said.

According to Braun, this incident was the second largest he’d ever encountered. The first was back in the early 2000s, and resembled a similar pattern, however this time the lettering was eight feet high and spanned across the entirety of just one of the walls. And though tags of this kind are infrequent, he says in his experience graffiti around the neighborhood has always been prevalent.

“Over the years, quite frankly I’ve lost track of it,” he said. “I only keep track of the really big ones.”

We called Seattle Public Utilities, the department responsible for cleaning up vandalism on public property, to find out if the number of reported incidences had in fact gone up in recent years. After weeks of back and forth, we discovered that SPU does not keep records of the numbers of incidences reported at a given address, in a specific neighborhood or citywide.

“We can give you the last date a report was called in at a specific address,” a SPU representative said. “But that’s it.”

The frequency of incidents citywide means SPU resources are often spread thin, and it is frequently left to the residents–like Braun–to decide how to handle vandalism on both public and private property. Two weekends ago the Uptown Alliance sponsored a graffiti clean-up at Counterbalance Park. Volunteers spent the day painting the top half of the wall, above the 11-foot mark, with primer and another coat of paint to better protect it against a repeat attack.

“The Parks Department could not spend the money to have the wall repainted. So the Parks Department provided us with paint and primer, and then the Uptown Alliance organized a community effort to have those walls painted from the 11-feet up to the very top,” Braun said.

Still, many in the neighborhood disagree over what the best course of action should be. Some suggest the city should hire artists to paint murals over large public walls to deter tagging.

“Personally I think they should open up those walls and allow people to actually put up awesome art. When some of those graffiti guys get time they can make big intricate pieces that would look more unique and interesting than any other city park, especially at night when they were lit up by those lights,” reader Macrus wrote.

However these projects are often targets for even more vandalism, as was the mural at Dexter underpass last year.

“I would not even dignify that aberration by calling it a tag or it’s creator a tagger. He is a petty vandal, through and through,” Rodstewart wrote of the Counterbalance graffiti. “Let’s not kid ourselves here. Real tagging requires planning, skill, technique, and patience.”

After the vandalism of Counterbalance Park, we decided to put the question of how to handle graffiti to the community. Here are some of the responses we got:

Nate wrote,

I frequently take my child to the various parks on top of Queen Anne and am a Queen Anne resident. The playground equipment is nearly always covered in graffiti, sometime vulgar. Stop signs, news paperboxes etc… often have graffiti on them as well. Something needs to be done to clean up the streets, remove this graffiti as soon as it appears and arrest those responsible. Seems we are tolerating it and should not be.

Carol E. wrote,

I am from Chicago, and when I moved to lower Queen Anne I was shocked at the amount of graffiti. In my Chicago neighborhood it gets removed ASAP. The Chicago city council outlawed the sale of spray paint within city limits, which I always thought was ridiculous since they could buy it in the suburbs. But maybe it did make a difference.

Amyalayne wrote,

How about increase funding to the Seattle PD so we can have more patrols in the area? I agree with Carol in that when I lived in CA, graffiti was removed right away and the city just doesn’t seem to care here. In a lot of cases the business owners should also be responsible for cleaning up or coordinating w/the city for removal too. The graffiti has been horrible in the three years I’ve been in lower QA. I think there also needs to be more street lights. There are many dark areas of lower QA (and upper for that matter) that just don’t make it that safe to walk around in anymore. Another idea would be to grow some ivy that covers those walls. If it’s happened once it will happen again I am sure.

Although Braun agrees that this will not be the last time graffiti is seen at Counterbalance Park, he still believes the best way to tackle the tags is to continue to clean or cover them as soon as possible.

“If they tag us again, which I know they will, we’ll just paint over it,” Braun said. “The best thing is to paint over it or remove it, and yes they will come back, but you know, they’re only going to come back two or three times and then that’s it. In my case, with my  building, I noticed that when I first started there we had a lot of graffiti from a lot of famous taggers. And I was right on top of it and just had it removed the day after, as soon as I was able to,”  Braun said.

And as summer approaches, Braun says vandalism will only increase with the warmer weather, when paint sticks more easily. “If you have a rainy cold day, there’s very few taggers out there because they know the paint doesn’t stick very well on a wet surface,” he said.

Still, in the hopes of deterring potential vandals, Braun advises community members continue to remove graffiti as quickly as possible.

“Yes they’re going to come back, but once they see that you’ve removed it, they realize that you’re on top of things and they’re not going to go there anymore because they know that you’ll just erase it–you make their soup sour, which is what they don’t like. It’s been working for me in my building, and I’m going to continue taking them off as soon as they come up,” he said.

A community group called “Neighbors Working Together for a Clean and Safe Queen Anne” has taken a Block Watch approach to deterring vandalism, posting fliers around the neighborhood warning that the area is patrolled by Graffiti Watch Volunteers.

To report vandalism to Seattle Public Utilities, call the graffiti line at 206-684-7587. Get tips on how to prevent and remove graffiti here.

Graffiti – Gauging the impact of a costly public nuisance

This story is part of a special collaborative project between this site, The Seattle Times and its local news partners:

Neighborhood views: From Redmond to West Seattle, several local sites take a closer look at graffiti in their neighborhoods.

Help map the trouble spots: Know of a place were graffiti is out of control? Send the info to The Times and a photo for our map.

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WA Department of Ecology: Hydraulic fluid spilled into Elliott Bay Friday now contained

April 24th, 2010 by Thea

Yesterday morning, Friday, April 23, a Shred-it truck spilled hydraulic fluid at 401 Elliott Ave. W. near Myrtle Edwards Park, some of which made it into a nearby storm drain and the bay itself. According to a report by the Washington Department of Ecology, the truck, which held up to 160 gallons of hydraulic fluid, called NRC Environmental Services (a cleanup contractor) at 10:50 a.m. on Frida when a broken hydraulic line spilled fluid all over the ground. From the Washington Department of Ecology:

NRC was able to collect some of the fluid from the ground, but the majority of the spill apparently had already made it to the storm drain.

Ecology wasn’t notified until about 2 p.m. By then, a 300-foot-long patchy, silvery sheen was seen on the water along the shoreline at Myrtle Edwards Park near the grain terminal.

Ecology and NRC put oil containment and absorbent boom around the outfall and a nearby fish pen. NRC monitored the area and maintained the boom overnight.

The Suquamish tribe and Muckleshoot Indian tribe operate the fish pen, and according to Ecology, checked the pens Friday and reported that they appeared to be unharmed by the spill.

Ecology ran dye tests to time the flow from two storm drains in the area to the outfall. The dye took 20 to 40 minutes to reach the water.

All oil spills cause environmental damage, regardless of size. Oil is toxic to the environment and the damage starts as soon as the oil hits water. A single quart of oil has the potential to foul more than 100,000 gallons of water.

Hydraulic fluid spreads out and evaporates more slowly than diesel fuel or gasoline, and it remains in the environment longer.

Ecology believes that some of the hydraulic oil from the spill could still be in a nearby building’s stormwater detention system and plans to talk to engineers about this. However, they believes that most of the fluid from the spill drained directly into the bay, dissipating before responders were notified.

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Watch your speed on Elliott Ave West

April 24th, 2010 by Gladys

The Seattle Police Department has started photo speed enforcement on Elliott Ave West.  This is part of a pilot project authorized during the 2009 state legislative session.  Using the same photo radar van employed in school zones, SPD will deploy the van to selected arterial locations, including Elliott Ave West, four days per week to determine the impact on speeding.

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The enforcement started this week with a three-week warning phase.  Speeders will start viagra overnight getting tickets on May 10 and it will cost you.  Depending on how fast you are going, the citations will run between $124 and $247.

The future of the arterial speed pilot will be determined by the State Legislature and Governor after they receive a report on project results from Seattle and Tacoma early in 2011.

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