The Laurelhurst Letter

September/October 2002


Public invited to discuss 6-lane 'preferred alternative' for expanding SR-520 Babysitters available
Auction includes many garden-related items Project funding unlikely
Program unites city, neighborhood efforts to combat speeding Group to push iron lung
Ballfield upsets daylighting plan Event features Bach

Public invited to discuss 6-lane 'preferred alternative' for expanding SR-520

On Sept. 5, the Trans-Lake Washington Project executive committee chose a six-lane plan as the preliminary preferred alternative for expanding the capacity of State Route 520. The plan adds one combined high-occupancy vehicle/bus rapid transit (HOV/BRT) lane to the highway in each direction. It also provides for future high-capacity transit by increasing the width of the Evergreen Point floating bridge pontoons beyond the 145 feet required for six lanes of traffic.

Two other alternatives are also being evaluated:

Two public open houses will be held to provide information and answer questions regarding the selection of the preliminary preferred alternative and to discuss the next steps in the environmental review and design processes. The first is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 21, at Medina Elementary School, 8001 N.E. 8th St., Medina. The second is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 28, at the Museum of History and Industry, 2700 24th Ave. E., Seattle. Both will take place from 5 to 8 p.m.

Babysitters available

The Laurelhurst Community Club Babysitting Network is up and running, with seven sitters currently listed. Neighbors can access the sitters' names, ages, qualifications, references, and contact numbers by logging on to and following the appropriate links.

Sitters who wish to be added to the list can download an application form from the same web site.

The Babysitting Network is maintained as a service to neighbors, and inclusion on the list does not constitute an endorsement by the LCC. Parents should check references and conduct personal interviews before hiring a babysitter.

Auction includes many garden-related items

An auction to benefit Seattle Youth Garden Works will be held Sunday, Nov. 10, from 5 to 8 p.m., at the Center for Urban Horticulture, 3501 N.E. 41st St. Tickets are $35 per person, which includes dinner.

The auction will feature a number of unique items, many with a garden theme. For example, a private tour for 10 of world-renown Heronswood Nursery on Bainbridge Island is one of the lots on offer. Another is a signed copy of one of well-known Northwest garden writer Ann Lovejoy's works.

The special guest for the evening will be KIRO Radio garden-show host Ciscoe Morris.

Seattle Youth Garden Works is an organic market-gardening job-training program for homeless and at-risk youth, ages 14 to 22. For seven years the Center for Urban Horticulture has provided greenhouse and outdoor growing space to support the work of these future entrepreneurs.

To buy tickets, volunteer to help, or donate an item, call 525-1213, ext. 4132. Or email For more information about Seattle Youth Garden Works, visit their web site at

Project funding unlikely

One Laurelhurst project is high on the list of those eligible for funding in this year's Neighborhood Street Fund grants; however, because the amount of money available is so small this year, it seems very unlikely the project will actually be funded.

The project, to build a traffic circle at the intersection of 50th Avenue Northeast and Northeast 52nd Street, was ranked six out of 19 by the Northeast District Council. The cost of the project is $15,000, of which $3,000 in cash has already been pledged as a community match.

Program unites city, neighborhood efforts to combat speeding

An item in the July issue about speeding on Northeast 41st Street touched a raw nerve in many readers. "Our street is just as bad," one said. "It's not if, but when, someone gets hurt!"

The problem is especially acute on neighborhood arterials-vehicles on Northeast 45 Street, 47th Avenue Northeast, and 50th Avenue Northeast are regularly clocked traveling 40 and even 50 mph.

It's clear that here in Laurelhurst, the majority of the offenders are neighborhood residents, not "outsiders" passing through. If everyone took a moment to consider how their driving affects those around them, the problem might disappear. If not, there is now something neighbors can do to solve it.

The Seattle Department of Transportation operates a program called Neighborhood Speed Watch. Divided into three phases, it combines the efforts of SDOT, the Seattle Police Department, and local residents to discourage speeding on neighborhood streets.

In the first phase of the program, SDOT lends a radar unit to one responsible individual and trains him or her in its use. That person, together with a partner, records information about speeding vehicles over a period of three days. SDOT then sends a letter to the registered owners of these vehicles, informing them that their cars were seen on a specific street at a specific time exceeding the legal speed limit.

Phase One is particularly effective where the driver of an offending vehicle is not the owner, but perhaps the son or daughter of the owner, says SPD crime prevention officer Kathy Kolarsick. In any case, Kolarsick says, the embarrassment factor alone often makes a difference.

Phase Two comes into play whenever Phase One turns up a significant number of offenders. In Phase Two, a trailer equipped with a radar display board is set up on a neighborhood street. The display board flashes the speeds of vehicles so drivers can see how fast they're traveling. At the same time, an SPD officer is assigned to the area to ticket speeders and enforce all other traffic regulations.

Phase Three steps up the level of law enforcement on a specific street and is dependent on police observations in Phase Two. Meanwhile, if residents are interested, SDOT will provide traffic-safety flyers for distribution in the problem area.

Group to push iron lung

The international service organization Rotary has a branch that meets right here in Laurelhurst. The University Sunrise Rotary Club has about 35 members and gets together every Thursday morning at 7:15 a.m. for breakfast at the Aljoya Conference Center, 3920 N.E. 41st St.

The group is currently participating in the parent organization's campaign to completely eradicate polio from the face of the earth by 2005, the hundredth anniversary of Rotary's founding. Its members plan to raise money by pushing an iron lung on city streets.

Ballfield upsets daylighting plan

By trying to fit too many activities into one small area, the Seattle Park Department's plan for developing the lower meadow of Ravenna Park will end up satisfying no one, LCC president Jeannie Hale predicted at the Sept. 12 Board of Parks Commissioners meeting.

Hale was testifying in support of the Ravenna Creek Alliance's plan for the lower meadow, which involves daylighting Ravenna Creek along a meandering path from its existing outlet in the middle of the park to a new outlet near the park entrance at Northeast 55th Street. The plan also calls for creation of a wetland around the old outlet and a largish pond adjacent to the new outlet.

However, to accommodate the meandering stream and pond, the existing baseball field would have to go. The alliance's plan calls for shrinking the field to soccer-field size and reorienting it in a north-south direction in the northwest corner of the meadow.

So far, the Parks Department refuses to consider the alliance's plan, maintaining that retention of a full-size baseball field is mandatory. The department has proposed its own plan, in which a new full-size field is tucked under retaining walls dug into the southeast corner of the park and the creek is daylighted along a narrow channel to the west. The plan also involves removing approximately 20 mature trees from the site.

Creek advocates, however, are not happy with this plan.

"We do not want a ditch as recommended by the Parks Department," Hale told the commissioners. "We want the creek daylighted to the maximum extent possible."

She reminded the commissioners that the LCC and other community groups have been working on the daylighting project for more than 10 years.

"We successfully worked in cooperation with many others to ensure that funding for this project would be included in the 2000 ProParks Levy," she said. "Our neighbors have participated in workshops, attended Ravenna Creek festivals, and helped out with work parties to remove invasive plants and restore the park."

Hale said the department should make arrangements to provide a full-size baseball field somewhere else in the neighborhood.

"You can't move a creek, but you can locate ballfields elsewhere," she said.

Event features Bach

Both familiar and less frequently heard music by Johann Sebastian Bach will be performed in Back-to-Back Bach: A Festival of Baroque Music at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, 4805 N.E. 45th St., on Friday, Oct. 18, at 7:30 p.m.

The program features talented singers and instrumentalists from St. Stephen's Parish and around Puget Sound and will include selections from Bach's organ works, cantatas, his B Minor Mass, St. Matthew Passion, and Easter Oratorio. (The complete program is accessible on the Internet at

The audience also will have an opportunity to join in singing along with the festival ensemble.

The event will celebrate the completion of a new columbarium at St. Stephen's. Admission is by donation, and all proceeds will benefit the columbarium fund.

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