The Laurelhurst Letter

February 2002


Hospital details next stage of development UW request for rezone draws fire from many neighborhood groups
Notion that 15 ballfields won't affect traffic 'defies logic,' says trustee Open house announced
Church presents new music series

Hospital details next stage of development

Officials of Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center attended the LCC trustees' January meeting to explain the next phase of construction in the hospital's 10 - year plan for development.

Administrator Ruth Benfield told the trustees that ground will be broken in July on a new four - story in - patient facility. The facility will be built on the existing turning circle at the end of Helen Lane, where the hospital's main entrance is now. During construction, visitors will enter the hospital from 3 levels of the new parking garage, which is scheduled to be completed by then.

Benfield said the face of the new wing will be stepped back on the northwest and southwest corners, to reduce the apparent bulk and scale of the building, and there will be additional landscaping on the west side where it borders on Laurelon Terrace. She said approximately 20,000 yards of dirt will be removed during construction - far less than the amount removed for the garage.

The new facility will house about 250 beds, of which 200 will be in private rooms. The current in - patient facility has 208 beds, many of them in four - bed rooms. The switch to primarily private rooms is necessary, Benfield said, because nowadays, fewer children are admitted, but those that are, are sicker. More privacy and the ability to have their families present in the room are important aspects of the patients' treatment.

Benfield said the hospital currently averages about 150 in - patients daily; an increase to 170 is projected over the next 10 years.

UW request for rezone draws fire from many neighborhood groups

Three elements of the University of Washington's new 10 - year master plan - transportation management, the policy to pursue closing one side of Campus Parkway, and the request for a rezone of the golf driving range - have attracted widespread comment from community organizations and individuals.

On Feb. 5, the city hearing examiner heard testimony from the Seattle Community Council Federation, the Northeast District Council, the Audubon Society, the organization Save Seattle's Trees, various neighborhood groups, including the Laurelhurst Community Club, and numerous neighbors. By far the most contentious issue was that of the golf driving range.

Although several individual golfers supported the rezone, the majority of those who testified opposed it, primarily for environmental and aesthetic reasons. Increasing the height of the fence from 37 feet to a maximum of 105 feet would prove fatal to migratory birds, many argued. In addition, the impact of nighttime lighting on bird populations has not been measured, they said.

Many also cited the impropriety of placing a 105 - foot - tall fence next to a designated scenic drive. "The UW insists that pedestrians, bikers, and drivers could see through the chicken - wire fence, but in our view, that would be akin to looking through prison bars," said LCC President Jeannie Hale.

Trustee Jean Colley, who represents Laurelhurst on the City University Community Advisory Council, commented that adding 13 or 14 new light poles, 12 to 18 inches in diameter and topped with eight - to 10 - foot banks of lights, would increase the visual clutter of the east campus. "The university has paid insufficient attention to the adverse impact on the view corridor of creating a 'forest' of poles," she said. "When I mention this impact, UW officials ignore it or respond by talking about glare."

Others worried that a rezone could lead to more than just a higher fence. "I question the promise that all other structures would be restricted to the existing 37 - foot limit," said neighbor Kate Hemer. "If the intended effect is to preserve the 37 - foot scale of development, why would the city not simply ask to exempt the poles and net from the height restriction?"

SCCF President Steve Lundgren noted that the existing 37 - foot height of the driving range provides a smooth transition between the 65 - foot height of the commercial area to the north and the 35 - foot height of single - family housing to the east. "The rezone would set a precedent for increased height and density in the vicinity of University Village and on the university property bordering single - family residential housing," he said.

On the issue of closing part of Campus Parkway, University District Community Council President Matthew Fox pointed out that the "enhanced open space" shown in the master plan is actually less than what's there now. Vacating the street creates "little more than a forecourt for large - scale new university development," he said.

Lundgren commented that narrowing Campus Parkway is inconsistent with the University District Neighborhood Plan, a city - sponsored and Šapproved document, and "will likely shift traffic onto other streets."

Lundgren also commented on the university's Transportation Management Plan. He said the institution plans to accommodate another 8,000 to 9,000 students, faculty, and staff during the next 10 years. At the same time, it promises not to increase the number of single - occupancy vehicles traveling to and from campus.

However, the university has "no real strategies for accomplishing this goal, other than to increase the price of parking," Lundgren said. He said the city must ensure the university has a measurable and enforceable TMP.

Upon approval by the city council, the new master plan will guide construction and development at the UW from 2003 to 2012. Unlike the previous plan, which identified specific uses for specific sites, the new master plan identifies only potential development sites, without regard to specific use.

According to this plan, a total of 8.3 million square feet of development is possible, based on the maximum height and assumed building footprint of each identified site. However, the actual amount of development proposed for the next 10 years is only 3 million square feet.

Notion that 15 ballfields won't affect traffic 'defies logic,' says trustee

At a Feb. 4 public hearing, LCC Trustee Kate Lloyd testified against the Seattle Parks Department's plan to build 15 new athletics fields at Sand Point and to light 11 of them until 11 o'clock each night. She said the plan's Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) does not adequately address the negative effects the fields will have on traffic, wildlife, and neighbors' health.

"The DEIS notes that the addition of 15 sports fields will result in major expansion of capacity and use levels, yet the DEIS notes minimal traffic and parking impacts. This defies logic," Lloyd said. She asked that the statement also take into account the cumulative effect on traffic of other development in the Sand Point area besides Magnuson Park.

Lloyd said that in addition to displacing up to 10 acres of habitat, the athletics fields will adversely affect wildlife because of their proximity to the remaining habitat. "It is well established that lighting affects the feeding and breeding behavior of birds and migratory flight patterns," she said. She asked that some sort of buffer be provided between the fields and the wildlife habitat.

Lloyd also said that residents of View Ridge and surrounding communities should not be forced to endure lighted fields until 11 o'clock each night. "Aside from the obvious aesthetic considerations, nighttime lighting has health consequences," she said.

Lastly, Lloyd said that the plan concentrates too much activity in one part of the city. "We do not believe that it is fair to have almost 20 percent of Seattle's (lighted) fields located at Sand Point/Magnuson Park," she said. "It is important that the Parks Department work to restore and improve other athletic fields throughout the city."

The DEIS, issued Jan. 3, examines three alternatives for Magnuson Park: a "proposed - action" alternative, a "lesser - capacity" alternative, and the "no - action" alternative mandated by state law. Major elements of the proposed - action alternative include

Open house announced

The Lifetime Learning Center, which offers a wide variety of noncredit classes for seniors, is having an open house on Thursday, March 14, from 10 a.m. to noon. Many of the teachers will be present to chat about their classes with prospective students over coffee and cookies.

The center is located in the Sand Point Educational Center (formerly Sand Point Elementary School) at 6208 60th Ave. N.E. For further information, call 985 - 3904.

Church presents new music series

Once again, top - quality live music can be enjoyed right here in Laurelhurst, as Music at St. Stephen's presents another season of performances at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, 4805 N.E. 45th St.

On Sunday, April 28, at 4 p.m., St. Stephen's Choir and Orchestra, together with the Northwest Boychoir, will present Missa in augustiis, the "Nelson Mass."

On Tuesday, May 28, at 7:30 p.m., the Rutgers University Women's Choir will perform.

Tickets for the first concert are available by calling the church office at 522 - 7144. The second concert is by donation at the door, with proceeds benefiting Habitat for Humanity.

Music at St. Stephen's was inaugurated in 1994 as a way for St. Stephen's Parish to share its considerable musical resources with the community. After seven successful seasons, the program took a sabbatical year during the 2000 - 2001 season.

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