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 walkandbike@seattle.gov 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 www.HomesiteFurniture.com, “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 lukemcguff@yahoo.com.

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.

Tonight: Ballard greenways open house

Tonight, there will be a public open house to educate the community about the upcoming Ballard greenways installation on NW 58th St. The meeting is from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Adams Elementary School cafeteria (6110 28th Ave NW). The meeting will be an opportunity for the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) to share the design plans for the incoming greenway, and to get feedback from residents.

Jennifer Litowski from the Ballard Greenways community group says that if you support this project, but can’t make it to the meeting, you can send SDOT a quick message to tell them (684-Road@seattle.gov). “Public feedback means a lot!” Litowski writes.

Salmon Bay Park chosen for water conservation project

If you’ve been to Salmon Bay Park recently, you may have seen a small sign near the entrance. It says “2012 Water Reduction Pilot Site.” The popular central Ballard park (map here) has been designated as part of a pilot program for water conservation, to the dismay of some Ballard residents.

The lush park is one of nearly 150 parks in the city where Seattle Parks and Recreation has chosen to reduce watering frequency. There are currently about 300 parks in the city that are irrigated each summer, and Karen Galt from Seattle Parks says the site is part of a pilot program to update their water-shortage contingency plan. The city doesn’t currently have a water shortage, but Galt says that’s a good reason to do it now because it allows them to be flexible with how much they irrigate.

Galt says in planning this pilot, they combed through the city’s water usage in parks and found areas where they could cut back, but could still tolerate the reduction. Salmon Bay was chosen, Galt says, because of its natural dense canopy of trees that helps prevent the grass from drying out.

Leslie Miller has lived a block away from the park for 21 years, helped pay for the play structures, and worked hard to get the irrigation system put in at Salmon Bay Park about three years ago. When she came across the sign at the park the other day, she called Galt for more information. She learned that depending on the weather, the park is watered roughly four times a week, for up to 50 minutes at a time. That equates to about $1,600 to $3,000 a year. Galt says the plan is to water about one day less per week to see how the grass responds. She says the last thing they want to do is adversely affect the park, so there is regular monitoring to keep tabs on the experiment. The areas that will be watered less will likely be around the perimeter of the park, or in heavily shaded areas.

Miller is disappointed that Seattle Parks has designated Salmon Bay for the project, and is working with Galt to determine where the park could afford to go a little brown. “It’s unique, it’s nice and cool, there are lots of kids,” says Miller.”I don’t understand why they can’t spend an extra $1,000 to keep it beautiful.”

Galt and Seattle Parks welcomes community feedback on the pilot program. For comments or questions about the program, email karen.galt@seattle.gov or pks_info@seattle.gov.

(Full disclosure: Leslie Miller is a sponsor of My Ballard)

‘Starving’ cat found near 12th Ave NW and NW 73rd St.

One of our readers, Marie, sent us this note about a cat they found last weekend:

Cat Found on 7/22 in the vicinity of 12th Ave NW and NW 73rd. Tame but  starving. No chip. No collar. A total sweetheart who is recovering in a safe place until the owner can be found or is strong enough to surrender to the Seattle Animal Shelter for adoption.

Marie says they’ve posted it on Craigslist and have scanned lost pet ads with no luck. “This cat is super friendly, but looks like it’s been lost for awhile – literally skin and bones.”

If this is your cat, or if you know whose cat it is, email us at tips@myballard.com.

Ballard’s Art in the Garden Festival happening soon

Get ready to sip a cold one amongst the flowers: the 12th annual Art in the Garden Festival is coming up soon at the Ballard P-Patch (8527 25th Ave. NW). On Saturday, August 4 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., the free event will feature music, local artists’ work, and food and drinks. All funds raised will go to support improvement projects throughout the year, including container beds and crushed gravel pathways in the P-Patch.

Photo from a previous year’s festival

From the organizers:

Enjoy a day strolling through gardens filled with colorful blooming flowers, vegetables at their peak, while listening to live acoustic music and discovering creations by 24 local artists. Relax at the patio beer garden for lunch, dinner, or both.  Indulge in homemade desserts at the bake sale and pie auction.  Family friendly and free, there is something for all ages at Art in the Garden.

The Ballard P-Patch was founded in 1976, making it one of the oldest in the city. It has over 90 plots, and four of the largest plots are dedicated to growing produce for the Ballard Food Bank. To learn more info about the P-Patch or festival, visit this website or contact Lindy Sheehan at info@ballardppatch.org.