Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Tracking down an idle rumor

The case of the missing bus-stop shelter

This part of the story is absolutely true: for almost 40 years, bus riders (and others) benefited from a large wooden bus-stop shelter that sat at the south end of Madison Park Beach, along 43rd Avenue E.  In stages over the course of the past couple years, however, King County Metro took down the shelter---beginning with the roof---and finally trucked away the remnants late last summer. Now the shelter (once located to the right of the big tree in the photo above) is no more. Coincidentally or not, a trash bin that for many years sat just to the north of the bus shelter was also removed from the site by Seattle Parks & Recreation at about the same time that the shelter area was grassed over.  The bus stop itself remains.

Now here's where the story descends into rumor and innuendo: according to some workers at Park Shore Retirement Community, as reported to us, the suspected reason for the removal of both the bus shelter and trash bin is that condo owners in the lakefront condo building at 1800 43rd Avenue E. had complained to the City and County that certain people (i.e. Park Shore employees) were using the bus shelter as an outdoor smoking facility and certain other people (perhaps more than a few of whom were not even Madison Park residents) were creating an unsightly mess by overfilling the trash bin!

Condo owners complaining?  Believable.  Government acting to protect condo owners from the madding crowd?  Unlikely.  We decided to investigate.  We went straight to the authorities to get some answers, which were immediately forthcoming.  Admittedly, we were titillated by idea of possible condo/governmental collusion (it would have made for a better story), but the truth turned out to be disappointingly prosaic.

King County Metro's public information officer, Linda Thielke, says that the story we'd been told "is just not correct."  According to her, the bus-stop shelter was deteriorating "and the Parks Department asked us to take it out because it was no longer functioning as a shelter any more," especially after the hazardous roof had been removed.  The shelter was one of the oldest in the system, apparently having been built in the 1970s. Bus shelters generally are on an eight-year refurbishing cycle, so this particular shelter had lasted much longer than most.  It is not being replaced, Thielke says, because there are an "insufficient number of boardings per day" at this bus stop to justify a new shelter there.

And with regard to the removal of the nearby trash bin, Seattle Parks & Recreation reports that it was simply a case of no more bus shelter, no more trash receptacle.  According to Dewey Potter, Parks spokesperson, the Madison Park grounds crew chief made the decision to remove the trash bin. "He and his crew found that when they had the trash can there, people filled it with “home” trash, which is why they removed it – it was not serving park visitors."  Also, Potter reports, "the grounds maintenance district lost a truck driver to budget cuts, which unfortunately translates into fewer trash cans in parks serviced by trash “packer” trucks, which follow prescribed routes."  So chalk the whole thing up to lack of funding.

Even so, there is perhaps some underlying truth to the Park Shore employees' story.  Both the County and City did admit to receiving complaints from condo owners about people using the bus shelter for smoking breaks and about the trash can being unsightly.  Potter reports that some area residents have also complained about the giant rolling trash containers located at the intersection of E. Howe and 43rd Avenue E., telling the City that these eyesores really should be enclosed and screened off from public view.

So far, that hasn't happened.

Too ugly for the 'hood?

1 comment:

  1. An amusing and well-written tale, certainly suitable for posting on a FirstWorld Problem web site.


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