Ballard High School loses beloved history teacher John Nygaard

Ballard High School teacher John Nygaard passed away yesterday, leaving the high school devastated at his untimely death. Nygaard, a history teacher and former basketball coach, was a 1987 graduate and had been teaching at BHS for eight years. BHS Principal Keven Wynkoop says the students and teachers are shell-shocked; Nygaard is the third staff member they’ve lost in the last nine months.

“Nobody knows for sure why he died,” Wynkoop said this afternoon. “He had been out sick this week with a mild case of pneumonia. He was here Wednesday afternoon and said he was feeling better. He thought he could come back on Monday,” Wynkoop explained.

Last night, a vigil of about 150 placed flowers, candles and notecards outside the school gym. Tonight is the first home basketball game, and Wynkoop says there will be a moment of silence before the game to remember Nygaard. While he didn’t coach this year, Wynkoop says he was well-connected and loved by the players, who have been hit the hardest by the news.

Nygaard, who was born and raised here, is survived by his wife Michelle, and young son, Jakob. A bank account has been set up at the Bank of America to help support his family. It’s called the John Nygaard Memorial Fund, Account # 138101517759.

Principal Wynkoop says Nygaard was someone kids could always go to. “No matter how bad they were doing, they could confide in them. This is leaving a big hole in the heart of the school.”

Thaiku finds new home on Phinney Ridge

The popular Thai restaurant Thaiku will be reincarnated early next year, and they’re planning to open on Phinney Ridge. Thaiku closed their Ballard Ave location almost a year ago. The exact location of the new restaurant will be announced closer to the opening, which will be in early 2013.

“We thank our regular customers of nearly 20 years for their suggestions and continued support on the reincarnation of Thaiku. It has been an overwhelming response with a seemingly endless number of possibilities for new locations,” Jon Alberts, proprietor and jazz musician, said in a statement. “We’re looking forward to a new beginning in the new year.”

According to a release, many of the favorite dishes will be offered, including a, “more specific genre of authentic Thai cuisine based on original family recipes.” They’ll also have their signature herb-infused cocktails created by Fu Kun Wu.
We’ll update as soon as we hear of their new location.

Tony’s Coffee hosting ‘Literary Housewarming’ party

Tony’s Coffee (7001 3rd Ave NW) is hosting a grand opening party tonight, which they’re called a “Literary Housewarming.”

They’ve invited a few Ballard authors to do some readings tonight, and will provide free espressos and Italianos (small American0s) until noon today.

The party tonight is from 7 to 8 p.m. and they’ll have snacks, refreshments, and coffee. Authors Robert Kaye, Len Kuntz, Patrick McKay and Ross McMeekin will, “break your heart and tickle your funny bone,” according to the event invite.

Revised application for land under The Viking

A revised land-use application has been filed for the block that houses the decades-old Viking Tavern at NW 64th St and 24th Ave NW. The application, published today by the Department of Planning and Development, now calls for underground parking for 55 vehicles, as opposed to the 17 originally proposed. The application still proposes a six-story building with 54 residential units and 3,635 sq. ft. of retail at ground level.

Developer Bill Parks purchased the land earlier this year, and caused a stir when it was announced the Viking might not be reincarnated in the new development. Parks purchased the building in May, and in July, met with the owners of The Viking several times. He said he’s open to the idea of the pub remaining on the property after the development is complete, but wants the building to improve the appearance of the area.

According to the Land Use Information Bulletin, approvals still needed include Design Review, SEPA Environmental Determination, a Building Permit and Demolition Permit. Comments on this project will be accepted until Dec. 12. To comment, click here.

Local authors explore Seattle one stair at a time

A couple local authors have put together an urban hiking book that explores Seattle’s best stairway walks, and Golden Gardens is one of the featured hikes. The book is called “Seattle Stairway Walks: An Up-and-Down Guide to City Neighborhoods,” and it was written by Jake and Cathy Jaramillo of West Seattle.

Golden Gardens, photo courtesy Jake Jaramillo

The hiking book, which was just published by Mountaineer Books, details 25 routes all over Seattle. In addition to the Golden Gardens hike, the authors explore nearby Fremont Peak Park, which leads hikers along the canal and up to the park, which they describe as, “a very cool pocket park with a mythological theme and big views to the west.”

“Stairs are like scenic byways into the neighborhoods,” Jake Jaramillo, told our news partners, The Seattle Times. “You get great views and small moments of serendipity. You get a pocket park or a work of art that is done by somebody in the neighborhood. You learn about their stories.”

The authors have a website that details all the routes in the book, and they’ve even broken them down by Seattle regions. (Here’s the link to the North Seattle hikes.) “Each neighborhood exploration includes background on the scenery, history, architecture and lore to be encountered along the way. The routes cover a broad range of distances, many are kid-friendly, and interesting local hangouts for a snack, a coffee or a pint are pointed out too,” Jaramillo writes.

RapidRide buses not so rapid in Ballard

The new RapidRide service in Ballard isn’t living up to its name, as buses have been routinely delayed 10 to 15 minutes during the afternoon commute, according to our news partners The Seattle Times. The problem is made worse by traffic signals that haven’t yet been re-timed by King County Metro Transit and the city of Seattle, according to the Times. The D Line buses are only one minute faster than the previous local bus it replaced in September, Metro acknowledges.

The RapidRide C Line buses to West Seattle have shortened the commute-time significantly, but unpredictable traffic and areas of bottlenecks present a challenge for the D Line to Ballard. RapidRide has fewer stops than a normal bus, and should run every seven to 10 minutes during peak hours. However, the buses are sometimes 20 minutes apart.

One key issue is that the D Line was prematurely launched, according to the Times. Metro General Manager Kevin Desmond told the Times that with the D Line, it was tougher than expected to solve technical issues, such as reprogramming traffic-signal cabinets or coordinating utility-work schedules. The problem was, delaying it would also have delayed the West Seattle route, because they use the same buses, says the Times.

To read more of the Times’ report on RapidRide, click here.

Public storage building approved for lot next to Ballard Bridge

The lot that is home to the Dirt Exchange (1515 NW Leary Way) has been approved for a public storage building. The Seattle Department of Planning and Development approved the land-use application will allow for a five-story structure with 83,682 sq. ft. of warehouse space, an office and small retail space. There will be enough parking for 41 vehicles below and at-grade.

The public has until Dec. 10 to appeal the decision. Click here for more information.