Ima Norwegian

Funny guys Tim Hunter and Frank Shiers bring a little Scandihoovian humor to MyBallard in a weekly cartoon called Ima Norwegian.

Ima Norwegian is a life-time Ballard resident who lives in a modest home with her husband Lars. Both are Ballard High School graduates (Go Beavers) but you’ll have to really dig to figure out which year they graduated. Ima won’t willingly offer her age, but will admit that it rhymes with ‘nifty-something’. Ima said she would only appear in the cartoon if we featured her in her traditional Norwegian bunad. And remember, she only needs her glasses for reading. Her two kids are out on their own, in the area and close enough that they occasionally stop by. Ima believes it’s because they miss their mother and they just happened to also need to do their laundry.

Ballard in third place in Walk Bike Ride Challenge

Ballard is pretty close to defending our title in the city’s Walk Bike Ride Challenge. Earlier this summer, we told you about the challenge, in which the city is encouraging people to walk, bike or ride the bus more often. The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) asks participants to switch at least two car trips to more environmentally friendly modes of transit, and the contest last through July and August. And, so far, Ballard is in third place in the challenge.

Here are some stats on Ballard so far in the competition (from SDOT):

  • #3 in trips switched to walking, biking, or riding
  • #1 in number of participants signed up
  • #1 in miles of driving saved so far
  • 2,285 total miles saved so far

There’s also an individual competition in which the winner takes home the following loot:

  • Zipcar 1-year membership & 5+ hours of driving credit
  • $100 REI gift card

There are still five weeks left in the competition. To learn more, click here.

Ballard greenway presentation draws mixed reactions

By Andrew Gospe, UW News Lab

Community members met with representatives from the Seattle Department of Transportation(SDOT) last night, July 26, to discuss a proposed greenway that will run along NW 58thStreet between 32nd Avenue NW and 4th Avenue NW. Some attendees, however, were not pleased with how SDOT organized the meeting, which was held at Adams Elementary School.

After SDOT reps gave a 30-minute presentation outlining the specifics of the project, there was to be a 45-minute “open house.” Community members could then ask questions to individual SDOT representatives about greenways, which are bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly routes onstreets with low traffic.

City traffic engineer Dongho Chang fields questions from Ballard community members during the open-house portion of an SDOT-led meeting last night at Adams Elementary School. Photo credit Andrew Gospe

But when the presentation ended, several audience members requested that their questions be fielded in front of the whole group, which comprised around 100 people. However, following about 10 minutes of public questions, the open house went on as scheduled when SDOT cut off group questioning and directed attendees to representatives stationed around the room. Paper forms for written comments were also made available.

The meeting’s format upset some audience members. Ballard resident Cindy Christy Robertson said she isn’t necessarily opposed to the greenway, but that the city’s tactics seemed like a way to “spread out dissent.”

“When you come to a meeting, you usually have an open mic,” she said. “Someone might go up and ask a question, maybe that might prompt somebody else to ask a similar follow-up question. For me, the way this was done was a divide and conquer.”

Douglas Cox, an associate transportation planner at SDOT who gave the presentation, said that although work on the greenway is set to begin this fall, the discussion is far from over.

“This is the beginning of the conversation, and we want to hear back from people,” he said. “We want to have faith that this is what the community really wants. Nothing is ever really done until it’s built.”

According to SDOT, the greenway project includes pavement markings to alert drivers of cyclists, median islands to prevent drivers from cutting through residential streets, and stop signs for traffic crossing the greenway. The estimated cost of the project is $320,000, funded through a 2006 local transportation levy called Bridging the Gap.

Jennifer Litowski of the Ballard Greenways community group, said the project was first proposed to SDOT at the end of last year. Litowski was motivated to advocate safer routes forbicyclists and pedestrians after finding it difficult to travel with her young son once he left his stroller.

“We realized we couldn’t stand next to him holding his hand with people going past on Market Street at sometimes 30 or 40 miles per hour. But then we tried to walk on some of the quieter neighborhood streets, and we were blocked,” she said. “It was the same thing a year later when I bought a trailer bike. It was really difficult to go to the places that we do on a weekly basis.”

Litowski said the project’s final design will be modified to accommodate community feedback, and she encourages Ballard residents to voice their opinions.

“I would encourage everyone to write comments and contact us,” she said. “We want to make it as good of a neighborhood and as good of a design as possible.”

Contact SDOT by email at or by phone at 206-684-7583. The BallardGreenways community group can be reached on their website.

Andrew Gospe is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communication News Laboratory.

Huge Crown Hill garage sale tomorrow

Tomorrow is the big neighborhood-wide garage sale on Crown Hill. The sales will be on from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., with lemonade stands scattered around the ‘hood.

Click on the map for a link to the most current version

From the Crown Hill Neighborhood Association:

Whether you’re looking to outfit a “man-cave” with a free 5 piece sectional couch (pink), or looking for treasures on a budget (“nothing over a dollar”), or browse the (in)famous West Crown Hill 16th Ave sales, there is something for you!  Harbor Church and Literacy Council of Seattle are participating with proceeds to their charitable works.  Lots of lemonade and refreshment stands are there (see the yellow dots on the map).

The organizers will continue to update the map until 5:30 tonight. To view the current version and to see descriptions of each sale, click here.

Homesite Furniture is closing its doors

Homesite Furniture, which has been open for eight years in Ballard, will be closing up shop soon. The store, at 4818 14th Ave NW, is selling everything at half price.

In a press release, owner Peter Scheetz says, “Given that our lease will be expiring in a few months, we have decided that this is an appropriate time to close the store and focus our efforts solely on our growing wholesale business, Palu LTD.” Cally Rhine, a salesperson, says sales have been “abysmal,” and with a difficult location, coupled with the economy, it just didn’t make sense to stay open.

From Homesite:

For fans worrying they won’t be able to get their hands on Palu products any longer, Scheetz says they can still find their high quality furniture at, “We’ll continue our on-line Homesite presence carrying both Palu products as well as some special order accessories.  We’re still working on going completely e-commerce, but until then, customers can call or email us to place an order.”

“We want to thank everyone for their years of patronage and support. While none of us at Homesite will miss working weekends and holidays, we will miss our customers. We hope they will come into the store during the remaining time we’re open and allow us the opportunity to thank them in person.”

North Beach Park restoration work party on Saturday

On Saturday, July 28, there will be a work party at the North Beach Park (map here) from 9 a.m. to noon. “Join us in cleaning up the weeds and trash from this little gem of a park and help improve the water quality of Puget Sound,” writes Luke McGuff.

Luke McGuff (on far left) and a group of volunteers from a work party last year. Photo by Kelsie Mhoon.

He asks that participants wear weather-appropriate clothes and sturdy shoes you can get dirty. They’ll provide gloves, tools, guidance, and fun, writes McGuff. All ages are welcome, but the work will be physical.

To learn more, email McGuff at

Loyal Heights Community Center to host Ice Cream Social and concert tonight

What’s better than ice cream in the park at the height of summer? We’re all in luck: the Loyal Heights Community Center (2101 NW 77th St.) will be hosting an Ice Cream Social this evening. They’ll have live music from the Silverbacks, bouncy castles for the kids, and ice cream for just $1. Grab your blanket or lawn chairs and join them from 6 to 8 p.m. Take a look at their Facebook page for more info about upcoming events.