Friday, July 30, 2010

You can never have too many banks

The story hit the streets yesterday that Key Bank will soon be arriving in the Park, becoming the fourth national bank to have a Madison Park presence. Rumor has it that the bank will be taking the space at 4105 E. Madison Street being vacated at the end of this week by Ropa Bella, as well as the contiguous spaces occupied by Dermaradiance and the recently-departed Sun Precautions. Unfortunately, this is a story which remains unverified at this point, since Key Bank is unable to confirm or deny it and the building’s owner is unwilling.

Key Bank reported that it couldn’t confirm the story because its branch-expansion manager is out of the office until next week. In the case of building owner Sander Properties, however, it appears there is some reluctance to talk to the Madison Park Blogger on the subject. One area merchant had warned me “Oh, Bob will never talk to you!” And this certainly seems to be the case. Although I’ve called several times (and actually walked over to Bob Sander’s office and left my card on one occasion), I haven’t managed to drum up any real response from him. I did get a cryptic “it seems to be the rumor alright” when I called Sander’s office today to ask if the story about Key Bank is true. But that was it.

So, atypically, we are doing a posting based on a rumor—but one that has a lot of people talking. That fact alone makes it newsworthy.

The idea of a big national retail bank moving into space previously occupied by a local merchant is controversial. On one side are those who feel Madison Park should limit itself to local businesses and seek to retain a kind of small-town ambiance. On the other side, presumably, are those more hard-headed realists who believe that the market will determine what is needed in the Park. Key Bank, if and when it arrives on the scene, will be successful—or not—based on whether people want to have the Bank here. That’s how the free-enterprise system works.

But allowing a local building owner to rent to whomever he pleases does not sit well with certain people in Madison Park. One member of the Madison Park Business Association, for example, told me she feels that landlords here (of which she is one) should be concerned about the character of the business district and take an altruistic view. Effectively, no McDonalds, no Subways, and no big national banks should defile the pristine village character of our business district. Some believe that the Park should be zoned exclusively for small establishments, and only local (or, at minimum, regional) retailers should be allowed to grace our fine community. If property owners must accept lower rents from less-well-healed tenants as a consequence, then so be it.

That’s one opinion. But if Bob Sander were talking to us, he probably would present an alternative view. I suspect that just because he lives in Madison Park and owns commercial property here, he doesn’t necessarily agree that he shouldn’t get the highest amount of income off of his property investment that he possibly can. He might point out that a national retailer willing to sign a long-term lease (in this case, rumored to be for 20 years) is a better tenant prospect than a potentially struggling local merchant would be.

One area merchant who has a good feel for both sides of the equation is Lola McKee, owner of Madison Park Hardware. “I understand what he (Sanders) did,” she told me, “but I wonder if it’s going to be good for the neighborhood.” She noted that she had no objection to a bank coming in, if that’s what’s going to happen, but worries about the impact of bank customers on neighborhood parking, for one thing. She told me she’s also concerned about the feel of the neighborhood with a fourth bank on a two-and-a-half block stretch of Madison. She admits she would rather see a local merchant in the space. “I take my money from the neighborhood,” she said, “and I think that I should give back to the neighborhood. But I’m old fashioned.” She notes, however, that she well understands Sander’s situation. “When you own a building you need to be sure it’s rented.”

If Key Bank is on the way to the Park it will arrive to find plenty of competition already in place. Onetime local banks Wells Fargo (formerly, Pacific Bank, later First Interstate), JP Morgan Chase (formerly Washington Mutual), and Bank of America (formerly Seafirst) are longtime players on the Madison Park scene. Apparently (and it’s still just a rumor) another national bank now thinks that Madison Park is where the money is.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

McGilvra’s ‘Field of Dreams’ has a sequel

Guest Posting
by Will Lomen

One day a little girl fell on the rough McGilvra Elementary School dirt field, scraping her hands and knees. Years later in October of 1999 that little girl was the president of the McGilvra PTSA and the field was in even worse condition. Zimmie Caner had had enough so she approached another McGilvra parent, Deb Kahn, about chairing a committee to research the possibility of resurfacing the school's field. On that day the "McGilvra Field of Dreams" was born.
Reaching out into the neighborhood the committee found broad support within the entire Madison Park/Washington Park community. Raising funds through City and County matching grants, donations from local citizens and businesses and money jars at local stores the committee raised over $380,000 for the project.

During the field evaluation process the committee realized that the Astro Turf generation was over and that the "infill" generation was on the horizon. The "good news" about Astro Turf is that it is durable and doesn't require a lot of maintenance, but the "bad news" is that the abrasive surface causes rug burns; and its hard sub-surface results in bone-jarring thumps to the head and unyielding hits to shoulders and collar bones. The term "infill" refers to a green-bladed polypropylene material that is supported by millions of tiny rubber granules that are mixed into the synthetic carpet to provide a cushioned, more grass-like surface for sliding and falling athletes. Put simply it is padded carpet installed over an efficient stone aggregate drain field.

Finally, on the hot and dusty day of June 25th 2001, Jo Shapiro, McGilvra Elementary School's principal, attempted unsuccessfully to dig a ceremonial shovel into the rock hard surface of the school's 35 X 70 yard athletic field. If ever there was a validation of the committee's vision, this was it. Throughout the summer, heavy equipment came and went, holes were dug, the drain gravel was laid and one day in late August ten large rolls of carpet were delivered and rolled out looking like an installation for a giant's living room. Then a few weeks later the first soccer game was played between two nine-year-old boys’ teams from the McGivra Soccer Club, the Terminators and the Nomads.

Now nine years later, using funds from the Building Excellence III project approved by voters in 2007, the Seattle School District is in the process of replacing the field built in 2001. According to David Standaart of the Seattle School District, the project, which cost nearly $250,000, should be finished by early August; and he confirms the field will be ready for the McGilvra Soccer Club's practices next month. According to Standaart the existing sub-surface needed a little laser leveling but was otherwise in good shape. He also stated that the District will conduct G-max testing once the field is completed. G-max measures the impact of a body when it makes contact with a surface. Once they establish a "baseline" they will compare that to tests done in the future to evaluate how hard the surface has become. The School District will also be responsible for the yearly grooming and general maintenance of the field.

Bruce Clarkson, the McGilvra Soccer Club president, is excited about the new field and says that it will be complete with lines defining the soccer field and extra markings denoting kickball bases for the school's PE classes. He also pointed out that the original field had reached the end of its life expectancy, with fraying seams and a slippery surface. "It was becoming a safety issue," he said.

One difference between the original surface and the new Sportexe field manufactured by Shaw Flooring is the addition of sand into the rubber infill. According to Hailey Towne, a resident of Madison Park and a project coordinator for contractor D.A. Hogan, this mixture provides a firm surface that enhances speed and accurate ball movement. Supporting the surface are panels called "Brock Pads" which provide safe cushioning and prolong the life of the field. D.A Hogan, with offices locally, has built over a thousand athletic fields all over the country including synthetic surfaces at the Seahawks’ Virginia Mason practice complex and the natural grass surface at the Mariners’ Safeco Field.

It's heartening to have the Seattle School District recognize that the McGilvra Field is not only a public-school asset but also a field that is used by the local community, as well as kids and people from all over the city. The Madison Park/Washington Park neighborhood is pleased that the legacy of the "Field of Dreams" is continuing as a "Field of Reality".

[Will Lomen is a lifelong Madison Park resident who also has his own blog, Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here. Photos above show the 2010 installation and are by Will Lomen.]

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

And so it begins: initial work on the new SR 520 is officially underway

I received a press release last week from WSDOT (the Washington State Department of Transportation) reporting that field work has begun for the new SR 520 floating bridge. If you’ve looked across the Lake or driven over 520 recently, you’ve probably noticed the large barge crane that’s been moored alongside the floating bridge for the last several weeks. That crane has been involved in a project replacing pontoon cables. The arrival last week of the barge pictured above, however, presaged work on the new bridge, which officially started on Friday.

This barge is the first of several that will be involved in “field work” to study the lakebed in places where support columns and anchors will be placed for the new bridge. Drill rigs on the barges will explore 40 separate locations alongside the floating bridge, taking borings to a depth of up to 100 feet beneath the bottom of the Lake. The results of the bore sampling will then be shared with the design teams working on plans for the new bridge. To quote WSDOT, “Smaller efforts were conducted previously on the preliminary anchor design. This more robust geotechnical work allows WSDOT to advance the design of the anchors prior to issuing the contract documents for the floating bridge.”

It’s been some time since we last did a posting regarding plans for the new 520, so perhaps the beginning of actual work on the project is a good time for an update. Let’s start with the opponents. They remain opposed to the Governor’s “Preferred Alternative” and are currently up in arms about a recent graphic from WSDOT which shows the bridge terminating at our end of the Lake with an “Interim West Approach bridge and bicycle/pedestrian connection.”

Larry Kyle, Program Engineering Manager for the SR 520 Bridge Replacement and HOV Program has provided this explanation: “Per the legislature’s authorization and funding, the project is limited to replacement of the floating bridge and the connections to SR 520 at either end of the floating bridge. At the eastern shore of Lake Washington, it will tie into the SR 520 alignment just east of the new approach structure approximately at the Evergreen Point overcrossing. At the west end, it will connect the transition span at the end of the floating bridge with the existing west approach north of Madison Park.” In other words, there’s no money appropriated or identified at this point to do anything with the western approach to the new floating bridge other than to create in the water just north of us an interim connector to the old approach. One opponent’s reaction to the new schematic: “Laurelhurst and Madison Park will have years of extra trauma” as a result of WSDOT’s plans.

WSDOT, meanwhile, recently posted a spiffy new video on YouTube of the “Preferred Alternative” for the western approach which will be constructed when funding becomes available. Although the computer-generated graphics show cars traveling over the bridge west to east and provide dramatic aerial side shots the Portage Bay section of the new 520, conspicuously absent are any side shots of the floating bridge itself as it crosses Lake Washington. Take a look here.

I suspect I'm not the only one wondering what WSDOT's reason might be for not showing us what the bridge looks like from the side view.

[This, by the way, is the 250th posting in the 17-month history of Madison Park Blogger.]

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Music in the Park returns in August

The 2010 edition of the popular summer concert series, Music in the Park, will make its debut the first Thursday in August and continue throughout the month. Three of the musical groups that performed last year will be back for an encore, joined by one newcomer, The Side Project (pictured above).

This is the rundown of the performers to be featured this year:

August 5: Two Scoops Combo, a piano-sax duo, performs a program of blues, boogie woogie, jump swing, and New Orleans jazz. The combo features Seattle pianist/singer/composer Eric "Two Scoops" Moore, who has performed with legendary blues musicians and with his own combo at blues festivals all over the United States and overseas. A critic calls his singing "soulful," his keyboard playing "ferocious," and his performances "roof raising."

August 12: The Cornucopia Concert Band, a 24-piece ensemble which performs American music of the 1890-1930 period, including ragtime, roaring 20's, and early jazz. The Seattle-based band was a big hit last year (especially with the Park Shore crowd) with its lively playing of pre-Swing Era favorites, including some engaging “hot dance” tunes. There’s a good selection of their music on their website.

August 19: The Side Project, is a Spokane-originated (but now Seattle-based) “adult alternative/pop” ensemble fronted by Suzie Bradford, a vocalist/songwriter/piano player who draws her inspiration from Sarah McLachlan, Aimee Mann, Tori Amos, Cat Power and Neko Case, among others. Bradford formed the seven-member ensemble in 2003 with bassist (and now husband) Ben Bradford, moving the group to Seattle the following year. They have released three albums to date. Samples of their music are available on their MySpace page.

August 26: Jonathan Kingham, is a country/folk/pop/jazz singer and songwriter who apparently does it all. With five albums to his credit, Kingham's music has been used in the soundtracks to films and TV shows, and he is currently on a national tour sponsored by Storyville Coffee. As to his musical influences, he places himself within the same sphere as Norah Jones. You can listen to one of his tracks, “She’s So California,” on his site.

The Music in the Park series is free, thanks to the generous sponsorship of the Madison Park Business Association. The Thursday evening musical programs each begin at 6:30 in the grassy area of the Park (near the Tennis Courts) and are expected to end by 8:00. Kids and pets (quiet ones, at least) are defininitely invited, and picnics are encouraged.

[The City park, Madison Park, is located at 43rd Ave. E. and E. Howe Street. Photo courtesy of The Side Project.]

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Police Blotter 7/21/10

Given my last posting about the use of heroin in Madison Park, I had to chuckle at the Central District News police scanner report of someone calling the police at 6 pm yesterday to say that “a juvenile is smoking (pot) and drinking (booze)” at 43rd and E. Madison. Pretty tame for the neighborhood, by all measure. But I also received an email yesterday from a blog reader reporting he recently had the experience of finding a used syringe at the waterfront park across from E. Lynn. I guess that’s more in line with what we can now expect around here.

In spite of all that, there really wasn’t much in the way of Madison Park criminal activity reported to the police during the past couple weeks. There were, however, two incidents of street robberies involving the use of a weapon. One incident occurred at the Madison Street road end around ten at night on July 8. The other incident was at Denny-Blaine Park, just south of us, on the previous day. In that case, according to Sgt. Jay Shin of the East Precinct, a lot of rowdy youths had congregated in the area, drinking was involved, a gun was pulled, someone was robbed, police came, and the offender was taken away. Shin described it as a typical summertime event.
There were also car break-ins, known in the trade as “car prowls.” These occurred on the 2300 block of 43rd Ave. E. on July 6, on the 4000 block of E. Lynn on July 18, and on the 3900 block of E. Lee on July 15. In the last incident, according to my neighbor, someone attending a tennis tournament at the Seattle Tennis Club had his car broken into and his briefcase and other items stolen from it in broad daylight.
Not quite as bad as having your car stolen, however. Two such thefts occurred in the past couple weeks, one from the 4300 block of E. Madison (a note to the wise: be careful at this intersection). The other theft occurred near the Edgewater Condominiums (2400 42nd Ave. E.) on July 17. The story on that was reported by a reader who emailed me today:

“I'm a resident of the Edgewater Apartments. My car was stolen last week while parked along E. McGilvra near 41st. The police found it a few days later (yesterday), undamaged but with everything in it missing (toolbox, stereo, etc). My car is a NOT NICE model ('89 pickup), so I'm not sure if it was targeted because it was easy to steal or what. At any rate, residents of our neighborhood should be aware that it happened--and be encouraged to keep their eyes out for suspicious people in the area. I was pretty blown away that the combination of terrible car and nice neighborhood still brought about a theft, but what can you do?”

Finally, there were two reported burglaries since our last police blotter. One was a forced entry in the 1800 block of 40th Ave. E. on July 11 and the other a non-forced entry (that’s where someone enters through an open or unlocked door or window) in the 400 block of 39th Avenue E. (an area known to locals a “Devil’s Dip”).

I will have a posting next week on ways to combat summer crime. Just be aware that it’s the time of year when we can expect a lot more petty crime, as well as some of the other kind.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Heroin in the Park? Surely you jest!

It’s probably not that uncommon an occurrence on Capitol Hill and a lot of parts of town: a merchant arrives at his shop in the morning and discovers drug paraphernalia strewn around outside his door. But likely it's news to some that it can also happen here.

In the last couple weeks two Madison Park merchants, each with stairwell entrances to their places of business, had just that kind of experience. Tim Walsh of Tim Walsh Salon (4105 E. Madison St.) made the first incident report to the Madison Park Blogger last week. Tim even forwarded a picture of what he discovered upon his arrival one day: a fix kit (shown above). He notes that it was accompanied by the remains of what had once been a teriyaki meal. His comment: “It might all be a little rough for the ‘hood.”

Joan Rogers of Joan Kruse Rogers Design (1803B 42nd Ave. E.) has now reported a similar experience earlier in the month. In that case there was just a used syringe. No evidence of any teriyaki meal. Her somewhat secluded stairs, like Tim’s, had served as a cozy hideaway for someone’s evening hit.

Of course we don’t think of our neighborhood as the kind of place where this kind of drug activity happens. Not outside in a stairwell! For our part of town, the thing is best done indoors. But summer changes the scene in the Park, with a lot of people coming here from who knows where--and college kids arriving back home for summer vacation. I’ve been told that the beach is transformed in the evenings once the lifeguards leave for the day. In the words of one of my neighbors, "Broadway Hipsters” descend on the Park as the sun begins to go down, high school kids congregate noisily on the pier, and mysterious figures light beach fires to do we-know-not-what at secluded road ends.

I’m not sure that anything happening here exactly qualifies as rough. But a bit edgy?

Perhaps for us.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Fat Salmon lands at the Park

Though it was a typically gray and chilly July morning in Seattle, the air temperature was probably not much on the minds of the more than 300 long-distance swimmers to who took to the waters of Lake Washington yesterday for the Fat Salmon races. The water temperature, in the mid-to-high 60s, was certainly of more consequence to these hardy souls, many of whom didn’t bother with wetsuits.

The first swimmer piled ashore with a time of only one hour and five minutes for the 3-mile swim from I-90 to the beach. That’s pretty fast for a course where I’m told an hour fifteen is considered a very good time. There was also a shorter swim of just over a mile from Denny-Blaine Park, with about half the swimmers in Fat Salmon electing to take that route to Madison Park.

For good reason, few of those coming ashore sprinted up the beach. But as sun came out, food was served, and awards were given, the recovered swimmers could look back proudly on a race well swum.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Another Madison Park restaurant shuts its doors

I wondered why when I walked by Sostanza on a sunny, warm evening earlier this week there was no one on the upper deck having dinner and enjoying the great Italian food and wonderful view. The answer was provided by Seattle Times’ excellent restaurant reviewer, Nancy Leson, on her blog yesterday: Sostanza closed on Monday.

It’s been no secret to many frequenters of this Madison Park mainstay that Chef/Owner Lorenzo Cianciusi has wanted out. The trattoria has been not-so-quietly for sale for several years. Popular and well-regarded for its food and ambiance, Sostanza was definitely a destination restaurant (meaning that people would drive here from other neighborhoods just to have the Sostanza dining experience). Nevertheless, it’s been obvious for some time that Sostanza’s business was hurt by the economic downturn, and perhaps by changing tastes as well. It was also pretty clear that Cianciusi was, after over 14 years running the show, tired of doing so. Sostanza will be missed.

But not to worry. This is definitely not another Constance Gillespie story. Sostanza’s space, according Seattle Magazine, apparently will be filled by a new eatery owned and operated by the former chef of Eastlake restaurant Sitka & Spruce, Cormac Mahoney, and his partner Bryan Jarr. Also associated with the new endeavor, to be called the Madison Park Conservatory, will be former Top Chef contestant Zoi Antonitsas. My wife, Margo Spellman, who is a consultant to restaurateurs and a foodie who knows about this stuff, tells me that “this is a potential culinary coup for the neighborhood,” given the team that’s involved.

It looks like we can look forward to something entirely new and exciting at the end of Madison Street by the early fall.

[Photo courtesy of Sostanza.]

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Get ready for Fat Salmon

Those living near Madison Park beach should be prepared for a large influx of early-morning visitors on Saturday as the 12th Annual Fat Salmon Open Water Swim gets underway (for some reason they are actually calling it the 11th Anniversary race, the first Fat Salmon having taken place in 1999). Check-in begins at 6:15 am, and hundreds of swimmers will be getting to the Park bright and early to participate in a pre-race meeting.

Our beach is the destination for two separate Fat Salmon events. There‘s a 3.2 mile swim from the Day Street Boat Ramp (near the I-90 floating bridge) and a later 1.2 mile swim from Denny-Blaine park. The swimmers will be car pooled from Madison Park to their starting points. If you live in the area you may recall from last year that most of the swimmers arrive here by car and quickly fill up all of the available parking within blocks of the beach. The first race starts at 8:30, and the whole show should be over by late morning.

The race gets its name from the prize given to the fastest male and female swimmers in each of the events: a big fat salmon. Here is one of last year’s Fat Salmon winners, Eddie Switaj, showing off his reward.

These races are limited to well-conditioned and experienced open-water swimmers who are members of the US or Canadian master swimmers associations. The number of racers is also strictly controlled, and all of this year’s available slots have been filled for weeks. Fat Salmon is the kind of swim meet where wet suits are absolutely allowed (although many elect to make the race without). The most-recent water temperature reading at Madison Park beach, by the way, showed 66 degrees.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Report of sexual assault at the Tennis Club creates some buzz

The story went out over the air early Friday afternoon. A police dispatcher had requested that an officer proceed to 920 McGilvra Boulevard to investigate the report of a sexual assault at the Seattle Tennis Club. The Central District News, a neighboring blog which regularly monitors the police scanner, reported the call on its website the next day. So while the story became public in a kind of back-channel way, the details were not known.

Rumors about the incident, meanwhile, began making the rounds of STC members and the neighborhood in the immediate vicinity of the Club. Since the story first broke, I’ve been trying to find out whether this was an isolated incident that just happened to occur in Madison Park or something that the community as a whole should be concerned about. Not to minimize the situation—if it’s indeed true—but the incident doesn’t merit being sensationalized. Nevertheless, it is serious.

The Seattle Police have confirmed that there is an active investigation underway of an allegation that a minor was sexually assaulted at the Club on July 7, last Wednesday, two days prior to the date on which the incident was reported to the police. Beyond that the police would provide little information. They did acknowledge, however, that the alleged perpetrator was a known individual and certainly not some unidentified, on-the-loose sexual predator.

Club General Manager Silja Griffin was a bit more forthcoming when I spoke to her this afternoon. She told me that the incident involved two junior members of the Club, both male, and that it occurred in the boys’ locker room. Junior members are children between the ages of 9 and 21 of active club members, so the alleged perpetrator could therefore have been either a minor or an adult. Griffin told me that the mother of the alleged victim reported the situation to the Club and that she and the mother agreed that the police should be called in to investigate. The call was made from the Club. According to Griffin, the Club itself is looking into the episode, and she will be reporting about it to the STC board next week. Expulsion from the Club is one possible outcome, she said.

The police matter is quite a bit more serious. Detective Mark Jamieson of the SPD tells me that incidents of this kind will normally be handed over to the department’s Sexual Assault & Child Abuse Unit if the initial investigation shows there’s cause to do so. In this case, he believes, it is likely that the matter has already been referred to the unit. Once that unit has completed its work, the police may refer the case to the King County Prosecutor’s Office to begin criminal proceedings. It will take some time, he said, for the process to play out.

At this point all we have is an allegation, as both Jamieson and Griffin noted when I spoke with them. However, everyone is taking this matter very seriously—and that certainly includes the two Seattle Tennis Club families involved.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Swimmer in Saturday’s incident succumbs

The young man who was pulled unconscious from the water off Madison Park Beach on Saturday has died, according to Harborview Medical Center spokesperson Mary Guiden. The victim, who was in his early 20s, was found floating submerged in the water near the diving platform on Saturday evening, less than an hour after the beach’s lifeguards had ended their shift. According to reports, Good Samaritans began CPR on the man before the arrival of police and fire emergency crews, whose efforts to revive him extended for at least 20 minutes, both on the platform and the road-end pier. He was unconscious when transported to the hospital, and he apparently never regained consciousness. The man's name has not been released for reasons of family privacy.

There were media reports on Saturday that the victim was discovered after someone dove off the diving platform and felt a body in the water underneath him. Several swimmers successfully maneuvered the man onto the platform while watchers on the beach apparently called 911. There were still hundreds of beach goers, swimmers, and passersby in the vicinity when the incident occurred. The arrival of multiple emergency vehicles brought many more onlookers to watch the efforts of the EMS personnel. Surprisingly, I am told that no media have followed up with Harborview or the SFD to find out what happened to the man. Those of us who witnessed the sobering scene, however, are unlikely to forget it.

This is apparently the first drowning at Madison Park beach since August 2007, when a man’s body was found floating in the water off of Madison Park. In that case, the man’s clothing and a suicide note were later found on the beach. The drowning on Saturday is believed to be accidental, and the police confirm that there is no on-going investigation.

Several blog readers have commented negatively on the huge police and fire response to this incident. There was a similar reaction by some last year when a girl fell into the water from the diving platform and was apparently knocked unconscious (see the story here). Multiple fire and police vehicles rushed to the scene then, just as happened last weekend. There’s good reason for this huge response in the case of a possible drowning, according to Fire Department spokesperson Dana Vander Houwen. The rule, she told me, is that there must be at least seven responders who are trained in CPR. The reason for this is that CPR is physically exhausting to perform over an extended time, as may be necessary in drowning cases. Anyone watching the performance of the emergency crews on Saturday can attest to that.

Update: The Seattle Times on Tuesday reported that the dead swimmer was a 25-year-old South Korean student named Ahn Hyo Yun.

[Madison Park beach is located at 1900 43rd Avenue E.]

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The parade goes by

The day certainly began on a more joyous note, yesterday, than it ended. It was sunny and warm; and the mood was festive—though spectacularly informal—as the annual Kid’s Parade and Picnic got underway at noon. As usual, a Seattle Fire Department engine from the local firehouse led the parade, followed by a swarm of kids, parents, grandparents and other miscellaneous characters.

This is not the kind of parade where anyone worries much about marching in formation, staying in sync, or waving to spectators. Actually, the later were few and far between. This is one event where it’s all about participation.

Some were pushed, and some were pulled…

…and a worthy few had the honor of carrying the banner.

Amateur crowd estimator and parade participant Maurice Cooper said he thought there were between 250 and 300 participants this year. I couldn’t begin to guess. I was plenty busy just trying not to fall over while walking backwards to get these shots.

No goats or ponies made the procession this year. But there were several canine participants to liven things up, including this eager guy:

And, as always, when the eight-minute stroll down Madison Street culminated at the Park, everyone headed straight for the chow lines. So ended Madison Park Days for 2010, a much appreciated production of the Madison Park Business Association.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

A grim scene at the Madison Park dock

A little before 8:00 this evening, about an hour after the lifeguards left the Madison Park beach for the day, a young man was pulled unconscious from the water and onto the diving platform. A police boat was quickly on the scene, and CPR was begun.
Multiple fire emergency units raced to the dock at the Madison Street road end, where the police boat had by then transported the man, who appeared to be in his 20s.

The medics continued to apply CPR for more than 15 minutes, but the man had not regained consciousness by the time he was placed in the medic unit, which transported him to Harborview Hospital.

Update: At 10:00 pm the nursing supervisor at Harborview reported the man to be in "critical condition."

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Panhandling in the ‘hood

It is, perhaps, just another testimonial to Madison Park’s isolation from the normal froth of urban living that the sudden introduction of a panhandler into our midst should prove so disturbing—at least to some residents. As we reported last week, someone actually assaulted this guy, who has been cadging at the northeast corner of 41st E. and E. Madison for the past couple of weeks. The verbal and physical violence of that incident are certainly not reflective of our community values, and it appears that the perpetrator is not even a resident of the Park. But the assumption apparently underlying his deranged act—that beggars should not be seen on the streets of Madison Park—is a view that many people living here apparently either tacitly support or at least understand. One resident told me “we really shouldn’t allow it.” She was referring to panhandling, not physical assaults. And I’ve heard even more hard-hearted reactions from others who live here.

The man doesn’t seem to be particularly aggressive, or at least I’ve never seen him accost anyone. He’s the same guy, by the way, who used to sell Real Change newspapers in front of Bert’s (on the northwest corner of the same intersection). He told me that the management of Bert’s didn’t like him bothering their customers and asked him to move to a different location. When he moved across the street he didn’t take the papers with him, deciding that he would just ask people for money.

Is this a better-paying gigue than selling papers? He’s not saying, but the implication seems pretty clear. He could still sell papers if he wanted to, apparently. But he doesn’t. “I’m not sellin’ nothin’,” he told me, in a not belligerent way.

The guy who beat him up was hauled off to jail, and the signs that the attacker (or someone else) posted high on a telephone pole at that corner have since been removed. One sign read “The hungry 1s (ones) don’t beg.” This was the other sign:

Surely the grammatically challenged sign poster is not from around here!

[My apologies to that reader who took me to task earlier this year for my use of the term ‘hood when referring to Madison Park. When I do so, please believe me, it is entirely in the ironic sense.]

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Weekly Crime Report 7/5/10

Don't lend your cellphone to strangers!

During the afternoon of June 28, a man walking along Lake Washington Boulevard at 32nd Avenue E. was approached by an unknown male who asked if he could use the man's cellphone. A couple of minutes after the man handed the over the phone, three other males arrived on the scene, and all four of the men then walked off together. Though the victim yelled for them to give him his cellphone back, surprisingly he was ignored!


There were incidents of car prowling on the 1700 and 1300 blocks of Lake Washington Boulevard E. (the Arboretum) on July 1 and June 29, respectively. No details were provided in the police reports of what may have been taken, if anything, from the vehicles.

Graffiti and more

The only other criminal incidents reported last week were of property damange due to graffiti on a residential construction site on the 300 block of Mercer Street on June 30; a liquor law violation on June 29 at the Shell station convenience store; and a disturbance at a residence on the 1500 block of 42nd Avenue E. on July 1 (no details given).

Altogether a pretty tame week crime wise, with no one beaten up in the neighborhood.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Another retailer to exit The Village

Madison Park’s retail core—what‘s left of it—is about to be hit with another defection. At the end of July, Ropa Bella in the Park, the women’s clothing store which has been a mainstay of the Park’s retail district for years, will decamp for Madison Valley. Word on the street is that at about the same time, Dermaradiance, the skincare spa next door, will be also moving out.

These exits from the commercial building at 4105 E. Madison Street follow closely upon the loss of Sun Precautions (which closed up shop a few months ago) and the earlier retreat of VanQuaetham Chiropractic (which moved to Madison Valley last summer). Both of those spaces remain vacant at 4105, although the onetime basement location of the chiropractors was briefly occupied by a yoga studio last year.

Rumor has it that building owner, Sander Properties, is in negotiation with a “national” retailer to fill the entire first-floor shop space, although the deal has apparently not been inked. I was unable to make contact with Sander last week to verify the story. What is not in question, however, is that we will soon be experiencing a major shift at the very heart Madison Park’s retail district (referred to by the Madison Park Business Association as “The Village”).

The way the whole thing seems to be playing out is perhaps a bit ironic. Some may recall that Madison Park Books, which previously occupied the Ropa Bella space, was thought to have been forced out of business when the building’s owner indicated that there was going to be a big increase the bookstore’s rent if it wanted to stay. At that time, the landlord had a prospective tenant waiting in the wings that was willing to pay the higher rent: Ropa Bella. This time, as we understand the situation, Ropa Bella wanted to move to smaller quarters in the same building, but the landlord apparently needs all of the first-floor space in order to accommodate another—presumably higher paying—tenant.

In the meantime, Ropa Bella is preparing for its move to Madison Valley, where it will soon be ensconced in a shop near All the Best Pets, a much smaller space than the clothing store currently enjoys here in the Park. What’s next for the big space the store leaves behind remains an open question.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Madison Park Days are coming!

Madison Park Days are virtually upon us. The annual event, which culminates each year with the Children's Parade and the Picnic in the Park, is scheduled for July 8-10. The fun begins with the Sidewalk Sale, which runs for the three days beginning next Thursday. It ends with the parade and picnic on Saturday the 10th. Hopefully the weather will be decent by then, since this is the Park's premier annual event--and one that a lot of Madison Park families really look forward to.

The parade will start down E. Madison Street fairly promptly at 12:00 noon, with staging to begin in front of the Madison Park Wells Fargo branch at 11:45 am. If you want to be in this parade you better get there on time, since the short parade route down to the Park means the procession takes only five minutes to complete. The picnic follows. Come one, come all--and bring your goat!

Madison Park Days are sponsored, as always, by the Madison Park Business Association, which for some unaccountable reason fails to mention the fact on its website. (Thanks to those who wrote in to the blog asking about when it's all going to be happening this year).