The Laurelhurst Letter

July 2001

Articles:

Group wants moratorium on airport expansion Guests cover a variety of topics at annual meeting
History book to be sold at neighborhood stores Mayoral hopefuls to meet
Proposed funding guidelines disqualify many communities City okays postering on community kiosks
Despite fire, master gardeners continue to offer knowledgeable advice Trans-Lake Project details too vague, says federation
Construction worker dies after tree falls on crane

Group wants moratorium on airport expansion

LCC trustees have unanimously endorsed a resolution calling for a moratorium on SeaTac Airport expansion until the issue of aircraft noise over neighborhoods is addressed and a plan for noise reduction developed.

The resolution, drafted by the Seattle Council on Airport Affairs, states that aircraft noise has reached an unacceptable level in many Seattle communities. It calls upon the Federal Aviation Administration to allow maximum use of the Duwamish/Elliott Bay Noise Abatement Corridor for arriving and departing aircraft and charges that the FAA "has failed to adequately consider the impact of its policies on the residents of Seattle."

It further recommends that the curfew on departing aircraft, currently in effect from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., be extended to cover the hours of 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. "to minimize sleep disturbance to residents, especially children."

Lastly, it asks that a commission be set up to determine a location for a new regional airport and that nothing more be done to increase the capacity of SeaTac until the commission has completed its study.


Guests cover a variety of topics at annual meeting

As usual, a standing-room-only crowd attended the June 5 annual meeting of the Laurelhurst Community Club. Guests from the State Department of Transportation, the University of Washington, Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center, and the Talaris Research Institute briefed the audience on the Trans–Lake Washington Project, the Union Bay Natural Area Wetlands Restoration Project, the hospital's current expansion project, and plans for the redevelopment of the former Battelle site.

Thank-you, Neighbor! Awards were presented to Jean Amick, Karen Anderson-Bittenbender, Chris Barrett, Emilie Cobb, Jean Colley, Doug Jennings, Cheryl Kitchin, Paul Klemond, Liz Ogden, Lilla O'Grady, Stan Sorscher, Bill Talley, Maggie Weissman, and Karl Weyrauch.

Casey Corr, Han Kim, Stan Sorscher, and Susan Torrance were elected trustees, and Kate Lloyd, Heather Newman, Barb Ragee, and Karl Weyrauch were reelected trustees, each for a two-year term.

The trustees thank Great Harvest Bread Co. for providing refreshments.


Mayoral hopefuls to meet

The LCC will be cosponsoring with several other northeast Seattle community groups a preprimary mayoral candidates night on Wednesday, Sept. 5, time and place to be announced. KOMO TV 4 newsperson Emilie Langley has agreed to moderate the event.


History book to be sold at neighborhood stores

The latest reprinting of Christine Barrett's A History of Laurelhurst, published by the Laurelhurst Community Club, is now available for purchase at four neighborhood commercial outlets: Great Harvest Bread Co., 5408 Sand Point Way N.E.; Capriccio Flowers, 3713 N.E. 45th St.; Varlamos Pizzeria, 3617 N.E. 45th St.; and Miller-Pollard Interiors, 2575 N.E. University Village. An excellent gift for friends or relatives, the book costs $18, including tax. All proceeds go to support community club projects.


City okays postering on community kiosks

Seven years after it banned posters from telephone poles, public buildings, and other public property, the city council has passed an amendment to the land-use code to allow installation of community kiosks. The kiosks are intended to be used for posting notices for community-meetings, yard sales, lost pets, and the like.


Despite fire, master gardeners continue to offer knowledgeable advice

The Center for Urban Horticulture's Master Gardeners Clinic is down but not out. While the center is undergoing repairs to the damage caused by May's arson fire, the clinic will be held on Mondays, from 4 to 8 p.m., at Ravenna Gardens in the University Village Shopping Center. Master gardeners will staff a table on the plaza outside the store to dispense all manner of free garden advice.

The popular clinic - one of several master gardener clinics in the Seattle area - specializes in diagnosing pest and disease problems in plants. "We have a twenty-seven-year history of plant, weed, and insect identification," said volunteer Peg Pearson. She said anyone with a sick plant should bring with them a six- to 12-inch-long specimen, preferably one that includes a transition between sick and healthy tissue. Alternatively, a specimen of each - sick and healthy - will do, Pearson said.

For more information on this, and other, master gardener clinics, log on to http://gardening.wsu.edu. Also, although the center's Elizabeth C. Miller Library is closed, its website (www.millerlibrary.org) is operational and contains links to many other useful and interesting sites.


Proposed funding guidelines disqualify many communities

Noting that many communities will be ineligible to receive funding, the LCC has objected to a set of criteria proposed for dispensing $10 million set aside under the 2000 Pro Parks Levy for community-initiated parks acquisition and development projects.

In a letter to the levy Oversight Committee, which was responsible for drafting the criteria, LCC President Jeannie Hale called them "arbitrary" and "inconsistent with the measure passed by the voters." She particularly objected to a criterion that limits funding to projects located in or serving an "urban village" or "neighborhood revitalization area."

Hale pointed out that the measure passed in November 2000 gave highest priority to projects located in "underserved areas" as defined by the 2000 Parks Comprehensive Plan. The next highest priority was for "areas experiencing population growth."

"There may be areas experiencing population growth that are not in urban centers or revitalization areas," Hale said. "Groups from these areas should be allowed to submit an application."

She also objected to a criterion that states that projects already funded by the levy cannot apply for additional funds. "Some neighborhoods received only partial funding for their projects with the expectation that they could apply … for additional dollars to complete the project," Hale said.

Other concerns included the placing of limits on the amounts to be awarded to any one project, the 4 to 1 funding ratio for acquisition as opposed to development projects, and the appearance that the whole process is being stage-managed by bureaucrats.

"The … process should be grassroots in nature, with project ideas coming directly from community groups, rather than being dictated by the Parks Department," Hale said.


Trans-Lake Project details too vague, says federation

The Seattle Community Council Federation has asked state officials to delay issuing a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Trans–Lake Washington Project.

"The lead agencies are not ready to issue a draft EIS ... and the public would lack the definitive information it needs in order to comment," federation president Stephen Lundgren told Governor Gary Locke in a June 28 letter.

The letter charged that the project's engineers have so far presented only "sketchy drawings," rather than actual data. The location of bridges and/or tunnels; the layout of major interchanges, such as that with Interstate 5; the connections to lesser thoroughfares, such as Montlake and Lake Washington Boulevards, are all subject to change. Questions about "lidding" portions of the freeway, about replacing land taken from the arboretum, about the effects on wetlands and wildlife, as well as neighborhood streets, all go unanswered.

"It would be far wiser," the letter stated, "to take the additional time now to collect the needed information than to repeat the debacle of Sound Transit of rushing a project along on insufficient knowledge and then stumbling later due to haste."

The Trans–Lake Washington Project began in May 1998, after an earlier attempt to expand State Route 520 by having private industry build a second Evergreen Point floating bridge, financed by tolls, was defeated. Instead, a study was commissioned to find new ways to move people across and around the lake. The study's scope encompassed Interstate 90, Interstate 405, and State Route 522, as well as SR-520, and other ideas, such as building a third crossing, were also considered.

Gradually, however, the project came full circle, and today, the focus is again primarily on expanding SR-520 and the Evergreen Point floating bridge. In June, project managers came up with a list of eight possible options:

The most ambitious proposal would add one general-purpose and one HOV lane in each direction, plus two fixed-rail rapid-transit guideways, a pedestrian and bicycle lane, and shoulders, making the bridge 190 feet wide overall (the existing four-lane bridge is 58 feet wide). At the June 5 annual meeting, project manager Les Rubstello told LCC members that this option would cost upward of $10 billion.

Rubstello said that any new bridge would have to be sited 100 to 200 feet north of the existing bridge so the latter could remain open during construction. He said construction could begin as early as 2004, if funding is obtained and no one files a lawsuit.

The project's executive committee was originally scheduled to decide this month which of the eight proposals should be studied in the EIS, but that decision has now been postponed until October.


Construction worker dies after tree falls on crane

Crane operator Chuck Brown was killed June 27 on the grounds of Children's Hospital when a tree he was lifting slipped and crushed the cab of his machine.

The 80-foot elm was being transplanted from the site of the new parking garage during a heavy downpour.

Neighbors speculated that the additional weight of the rain in the tree's branches may have contributed to the accident.

Afterward, many neighbors left flowers in the fence surrounding the site.


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