The Laurelhurst Letter

March 2002

Articles:

A letter to LCC members from the club president Battelle-site owner proposes new alternative
Neighbor Appreciation Day
2002 ceremony biggest and best ever
New board members sought
Garden tour announced Summer programs offered


A letter to LCC members from the club president

Dear Neighbors,

In recent weeks, our trustees have heard from a few neighbors who are unhappy with the club's activities regarding especially the proposed expansion of the University of Washington golf driving range and the Seattle Parks Department's plan to build 15 new athletic fields at Magnuson Park. One said, "It seems as if the community club is for nothing and against everything."

That anyone might think so reflects a failure on our part to communicate clearly where we really stand. The Laurelhurst Community Club supports and has always supported the presence of these fine recreational facilities on our doorstep. Where we are critical is in the scale of the proposed developments, their impacts on traffic and the environment, and the failure to adequately plan to mitigate those impacts.

In the case of the university golf driving range, the community club feels that a 105-foot-tall fence - almost three times the height of the existing fence - is simply out of scale with nearby development, and a rezone could lead to the construction of other, similarly tall structures in the vicinity of University Village. We also feel that the impact on wildlife - particularly migratory birds - and the fragile shoreline has not been properly studied and could prove disastrous.

What we would like to see is renovation of the existing single-story facility, together with replacement of the fence, poles, and lighting at a lower height. The UW is apparently willing to work with us on a compromise.

In the case of Magnuson Park, we recognize the sore lack of playing fields in our city and would like to see additional fields installed at Sand Point. Many of us are sports enthusiasts or have children of our own who play on organized teams.

Where we differ with the Parks Department is in their assertion that 15 new ball fields will have no impact on traffic in the area. Simple math tells us that 15 fields hosting 22 players each, not to mention parents, coaches, spare players, and spectators, yields a total of 330 players on the fields. If each arrives in a separate car and stays an hour - the average length of a game - that's 330 additional cars an hour on our roads.

The community club believes that a much more detailed traffic study - to include not only trips generated by Magnuson Park but by other proposed developments along the Montlake Boulevard/Sandpoint Way corridor - needs to be done. Otherwise, the cumulative effect of all this traffic will soon have us locked in!

We also wonder what will be the impact of the 15 additional ball fields and their lights on park animals. The current plan calls for a wetlands/wildlife habitat to be established immediately adjacent to the fields, with no intervening buffer. Once again, an adequate study has not been done to assess the potential effects of this proximity.

Our position for several years has been that an environmental impact statement (EIS) for the entire Sand Point/Magnuson Park project should be prepared. We have already seen the consequences of piecemeal development at University Village, where staged "renovations" were allowed to proceed with no regard for the overall impact on parking, traffic, and neighbors.

In closing, let me reiterate that the community club favors renovation and development of both the driving range and the ball fields within the constraints of good traffic management and consideration for the environment. We hope one day to have in our neighborhood the finest athletic facilities in the city - without sacrificing the quality of life that brought us here in the first place.

Sincerely,

Jeannie Hale, LCC president


Battelle-site owner proposes new alternative

At the request of the developer, the Department of Design, Construction, and Land Use (DCLU) has agreed to reopen the period for determining what aspects of the proposed Battelle-site redevelopment should be examined in the required environmental impact statement (EIS).

The developer, 4000 Property LLC, had asked that the EIS consider a new proposal to construct single-family housing on the site, as well as the original proposal to build two "institutes for advanced study," one of which would be occupied by the Talaris Research Institute.

The proposed single-family alternative would entail a replat of the property into approximately 75 lots, according to Bob Wicklein of The Seneca Real Estate Group, the project's manager. He said the majority would be 5000-square-foot lots and a small number would be larger.

The existing ponds and wetlands would become part of the site's storm-water system and would remain open space, Wicklein said.

The request was in response to DCLU's determination after the first scoping period, which ended last October, that the EIS should consider an alternative in which the building proposed for Talaris was broken into smaller components, so as to de-emphasize its bulk and scale. This, the developer said, was inconsistent with the very purpose of the development.

"This institute's purpose for being is (to facilitate) close relationships between disciplines that are usually located in entirely separate laboratories and often separate buildings," 4000 Property LLC President Charles Hill told DCLU. " It is ... crucial that the full range of disciplines is housed in a single building...."

Hill said that if the project could not go ahead as planned, "then there appears to be no other development alternative for this property other than single-family housing."

Single-family housing is consistent with the underlying SF-5000 zoning of the site and is permitted outright by the city land-use code; an institute for advanced study, on the other hand, is a conditional use and is governed not only by the land-use code but also by a 1991 agreement between the city, the property owner, the LCC, and another neighbors' group.

A public hearing on the matter will be held sometime in late April or early May, but the date, time, and place have yet to be fixed.


Neighbor Appreciation Day
2002 ceremony biggest and best ever

Council President Sullivan and Mayor Nickels share a laugh with award winners Sasha Connelly (l) and Samantha Simon (r). award winners
The Neighbor Appreciation Day celebration at Laurelhurst Community Center this year was the biggest and best ever. More than 100 guests attended, 22 neighbors were honored, the mayor and county council president officiated, and the event attracted nine corporate sponsors!

For five years in a row, the Laurelhurst Community Club has presented Good Neighbor Awards to the people who make a difference in this community - not by big splashy acts but by small kindnesses such as picking up kids from school when parents are late, hosting neighborhood events to welcome newcomers, taking food to a housebound neighbor after surgery, and providing "doggie daycare." The recipients are chosen by the people they help; at least one letter of recommendation was received for each of this year's nominees.

They were: Barbara Asmervig and Mike Thanem, Bill Baker, Jim Bray, Sasha Connelly, Vickie and Rob Edmonds, Connie and Gil Edwards, Gerry Gettel, Rita Gill, Irma Johnson, Betty Jones, Nancy Lazara, Alice Meyers, Carrie Minns, Janet Newell, Tina Regan, Samantha Simon, Grey Snyder, and Fred and Pat Wright.

Two of the nominees - Sasha Connelly and Samantha Simon, first graders at Laurelhurst Elementary School - were the youngest ever to win the award. They were honored for picking up trash in the neighborhood. In addition to their Good Neighbor Awards, the two girls each received a copy of Encarta 2000, donated by Microsoft, a $25 gift certificate from University Village, and a bag of candy from The Confectionary.

Again this year, County Council President Cynthia Sullivan provided leather frames for the awards, and she and Mayor Greg Nickels signed them and personally presented them to the recipients. There was also a drawing for two $50 gift certificates from University Village, a beautiful crystal vase from Miller Pollard, a set of martini glasses from Mrs. Cooks, and half the price of a wireless keyboard from Microsoft.

Great Harvest Bread Company, Noah's Bagels, and QFC provided wonderful treats, all of which were gratefully consumed.

Organizer Coco Sherman was presented with a copy of the city's 2002 Neighbor Appreciation Day card, designed by a local elementary school student and beautifully framed by the University Frame Shop.

Also present at the ceremony were Seattle City Councilmember Richard Conlin, Andrew Schmid from Council President Sullivan's office, Brent Crook and Karen Ko from the Department of Neighborhoods, David Yim and Maureen O'Neill from the Parks Department, and Sarah Ericksen from Children's Hospital.


New board members sought

If you would like to serve on the LCC Board of Trustees, please contact Nominations Committee Chair Shahina Piyarali at 526-8005. The election of new trustees will take place in May.


Garden tour announced

The second annual Laurelhurst Garden Tour, to benefit Laurelhurst Elementary School, will take place on Saturday, May 18, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Eight private gardens will be featured, as well as guided tours of the Children's Hospital grounds.

Tickets are $25 per person. To reserve a place, please mail a check to: Friends of Laurelhurst School Foundation, 4603 NE University Village #406, Seattle, WA 98105.

For further information contact Stephanie Dassel-Barden at 526-8604.


Summer programs offered

Villa Academy is now enrolling children ages 5-14 for Villa Ventures day camp, MidWay MidSummer Adventures (for middle schoolers), technology courses for children and adults, and Skyhawks summer sports programs. Call 524-8885, ext. 316, for a brochure, or visit www.thevilla.org and click on Summer Programs 2002.


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