The Laurelhurst Letter

February/March 2005

UW regional biolab: Questions abound

New play area planned

Committee to explore gym needs Event funds vital programs
Neighbors honor neighbors in 8th annual award ceremony Northeast neighborhoods weigh in on SR 520 plan

UW regional biolab: Questions abound

At their February meeting, LCC trustees agreed to withhold community support for the University of Washington’s proposed new high-security “biocontainment” lab until the many questions about its safety are resolved.

In January, area residents learned for the first time that the U.W. had applied some months before for $25 million in federal funding to build a “regional biocontainment laboratory” at the foot of 15th Avenue near Portage Bay.  The lab would be used to conduct research and training using “level-3” biological agents such as anthrax, for which there is a cure but no preventative vaccine.

The news surprised many in the community, and many turned out to voice their concerns at two hastily arranged public meetings.  Among those concerns: safety (What is the likelihood of an accidental release of biological toxins into the community?), community notification (it has been suggested that in the event of such an accident, notification might not be required or even allowed because of national-security rules), and security (the facility could be targeted by either foreign or domestic terrorists, or it could be compromised by the aberrant actions of a single individual).

Critics have also questioned the ease with which the U.W.’s level-3 lab might be converted to a level-4 facility, working with the most dangerous viruses, such as ebola, for which there is no cure.®

Committee to explore gym needs

As the process of gathering public input into the renovation and expansion of Laurelhurst Community Center has proceeded, a substantial number of neighbors have raised the issue of our community’s woefully inadequate gym facilities.  Although a new or renovated gym is not part of the current project, it could be included in some future capital-improvement levy—if people are willing to work for it.

The LCC trustees invite anyone interested to join them in exploring the various options for improving Laurelhurst’s gym facilities, as well as how to pay for it.  This is a long-term project!  Funding for the current renovations was approved by voters in 2000, but only after years of lobbying on the part of committed neighbors.

If you would like to take part in this effort, please contact Mark Trumbauer at 527-8350 or®

Neighbors honor neighbors in 8th annual award ceremony

Approximately 85 of “the nicest people in the neighborhood” (in organizer Coco Sherman’s words) attended the LCC’s eighth annual Neighbor Appreciation Day Celebration at Laurelhurst Community Center Feb. 12.

After a brief period of socializing, the crowd sat down to hear a few words from Mayor Greg Nickels and city Councilmembers Richard Conlin, Jan Drago, and David Della.  Councilmember Tom Rasmussen also attended but did not speak.

Former Department of Neighborhoods chief Jim Diers, under whose watch Neighbor Appreciation Day originated, then shared excerpts from his new book “Neighbor Power: Building Community the Seattle Way.”

After that, the meeting got down to business—the mayor presented Good Neighbor Award certificates to 27 individuals who were nominated by their peers for service to others.  Among those honored were five women—Maribeth Capeloto, Gina Hampson, Nancy O’Blanas, Laura Kvasnosky, and Liz Brennan—who organized the first block party on their street in 30 years.

“These five women did more than just host a ‘block party’—they planted the seeds necessary to create a cohesive neighborhood community where people can work together to increase the level of safety and well-being for all of us,” said the person who nominated them.

Similar sentiments were expressed in the nominating letters of the 22 other award recipients: Christine Barrett; Sarah Biely; Joe Bennett and Susan Bonner; Fritz Friedhoff; Jeff and Jenny Gietzen; Lyle and Barbara Hancock; Marlene Haslam; Hannah Sue Hults; Susan Hutchison; Debbie, Nick, Tori, and Bella Jenner; Ken Jones; Abeba Kisle; Karen Lee; Coco Sherman; Barbara Shikiar; and Bonnie Zinn.

The presentation of the award certificates was followed by a drawing among the award recipients for several special door prizes donated by local businesses.  More socializing and refreshments brought the event to a close.

The Laurelhurst Community Club would like to thank Great Harvest Bread Co., Mrs. Cook’s, Quality Food Centers, the University Frame Shop, and University Village Shopping Center, as well as the city Departments of Parks and Recreation and Neighborhoods for their enthusiastic and generous support of this event.  We would also like to thank King County Councilmember Bob Ferguson for providing the certificate folders.®

New play area planned

Area mothers will soon have a fine new destination to take toddlers for some fresh air and activity.

Friends of Ravenna Park has been working since November 2003 to refurbish the park’s decaying play area with new playground equipment, paths, picnic amenities, artwork, and landscaping.  They also hope to renovate the nearby wading pool, tennis courts, playfield, and other park features.

The group has already received one Neighborhood Matching Grant, which paid for a professional design plan, and they held a very successful dance auction that raised $18,000.  They are currently applying for a second grant and have sought support from other community groups.

The Laurelhurst Community Club heartily endorses this project and has sent a letter to the Parks Department expressing strong support.®

Event funds vital programs

“Every Child a Star!” is the theme of this year’s Laurelhurst Elementary School auction, which will be held on Friday, April 1, from 5:30 to 11 p.m., at Sandpoint Education Center, 6208 60th Ave. N.E.

Proceeds from the auction support vital programs that the Seattle Public School District no longer can provide. Your support allows our students to receive a better education by allowing our school to offer a well-rounded and well-supported curriculum.

Come join the fun at this annual community event.  Tickets are $30 each ($50 to help underwrite the costs of the event).  For tickets or more information call 252-5400.®

Northeast neighborhoods weigh in on SR 520 plan

“Livability” was the watchword as an estimated 250 northeast Seattle neighbors tried to convince city officials to play a more decisive role in plans to renovate and expand state Route 520 across Lake Washington.

At a March 1 public meeting organized by six different community groups, speaker after speaker urged Deputy Mayor Tim Ceis and the seven of nine city councilmembers attending not to allow the livability of Seattle neighborhoods to be sacrificed for increased mobility on the freeways.

“The current plan for 520 isn’t going to improve anyone’s quality of life, save perhaps for an arguably quicker commute,” said LCC trustee Joe Herrin.  “How can we be seriously considering nine lanes of concrete across Union Bay?  How can we be seriously considering a swath of pavement 300 feet wide through Montlake?  How can we be seriously considering doubling the swath of pavement over one of the last remaining urban wetlands in the U.S.?”

Aside from the disastrous environmental aspects of the plan, Herrin said that Laurelhurst’s main concern is with the worsening traffic on Montlake Boulevard, which will only be exacerbated by an expanded 520, as well as by planned developments at the University of Washington, the University Village Shopping Center, Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center, and Magnuson Park. 

“The city and state appear to have their collective heads in the sand regarding traffic in our neighborhoods,” Herrin said.  “The Department of Planning and Development keeps approving the endless expansion of U. Village, the city council drops the U.W. lease lid, the state proposes a detrimental freeway expansion—all of this without any consideration for the only connecting street we have with our neighbors to the south.”

A secondary concern for Laurelhurst is noise, Herrin said.  A new Evergreen Point floating bridge will be 200 feet closer to Laurelhurst’s shore, yet the plan proposes to erect sound barriers only on the Madison Park side of the structure.  “We feel our neighborhood deserves the same consideration,” he said.

Herrin also criticized the plan for failing to integrate the various kinds of mass transit that will be available.  For example, there is no connection planned between the proposed Metro Flier bus stop and Sound Transit’s Link light-rail line, “even though the light-rail tunnel passes almost directly below the Flier stop.”

He called for planners to go back to the drawing board and look at all the issues, not just those pertaining to moving a greater volume of traffic across the lake.

“The Laurelhurst Community Club opposes the current proposal for the expansion of 520 and will oppose any further proposal that does not effectively address the big picture for both our neighborhood and our region,” Herrin said.®

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