Monday, July 30, 2012

Second Quarter Real Estate Report

The Seattle Times gets it right: prices are up
The Madison Park Blogger (however) gets it wrong 

By Bryan Tagas

Soon after our last real estate posting hit the streets last month, The Seattle Times weighed in with a front-page article entitled “Double Digit Rise in King County Prices.” Using data from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service (MLS), the Times reported that the median price of single-family homes solid in the County rose 10.1% between June 2011 and June 2012.

In this month's edition of the Madison Park Times, however, I got the story wrong, as was pointed out to me today.  Having misread the Times' map, I concluded that the Times had reported that Madison Park median prices were actually down. I incorrectly and unfairly took the Times to task for this error, when the error was in fact mine. I hate to have to admit that I got the story wrong, but I did.

Though Madison Park was not specifically cited in the Times' story, the accompanying map detailing the relative rise in home prices across the County showed our part of Seattle as being up a very sold 10-20%. Our area, Region 390, also includes Capitol Hill, Madrona and Leschi.

Area 380, the area just south of our part of town, was shown as having a decrease in values, ranking those Seattle neighborhoods right up there (or, rather, down there) with Renton, Fall City, and Black Diamond, three of the other six areas of the Puget Sound region with supposed price declines. That’s out of 35 Puget Sound geographic areas surveyed by the Times.

The Times gets its statistical information from the MLS, and a careful reading of the data shows that the mapmaker at the Times was correct in correlating the data to the map.  I failed to read the map correctly and reported in the Madison Park Times that the Seattle Times had mis-stated the situation for Madison Park, reporting a decrease. Madison Park and the surrounding neighborhoods in MLS Area 390 are actually up 10.1% since June 2011, right in line with County’s overall increase.

Soon after the Times article was published, there was independent confirmation that when it comes to the median sales price our part of town is trending upward. Redfin, the independent real estate website, recently reported that the year over year increase for single-family homes sold in the 98112 zip code, which includes Madison Park and Capitol Hill, was a very solid 11.4% at the end of June.

And for Madison Park as a whole, Redfin reported an increase of 9.5%.

As I always caution, looking at median sales prices is just a tool---and not a particularly good one. That’s because the houses that compose one period’s sales are not the same houses that are being sold in the period to which it’s being compared, making the whole analysis something much less than an apples-to-apples situation. Even so, as one real estate broker once noted when I was grousing about the problem: “Hey, median sales prices are the best we have. What would you suggest we use?”  What indeed?

Leaving aside the issue of comparative median values, here’s a look at how the Madison Park market performed in the second quarter of 2012:


Sales:  21
Median Sale Price:  $1,750,000
Average Sq. Ft.:  2,786
Average Price per Sq. Ft.:  $385
Average Days on Market:  95
Average Discount from List Price:  5.2%


Sales:  11
Median Sale Price:  $392,000
Average Sq. Ft.:  1,119
Average Price per Sq. Ft.:  $350
Average Days on Market:  110
Average Discount from List Price: 9.9%

Selling activity was up dramatically over the level of the first quarter, in which only nine houses and condos were sold.  It’s also an increase over the same quarter last year, in which 23 units were sold (versus 32 this year).  This increased sales column is particularly noteworthy because of the decline in inventory over the last year.  Recently, houses have been moving more quickly (an average 95 days on market in Quarter 2 versus 318 days, believe it or not, in Quarter 1 this year).

The most expensive house sold in the second quarter, for $1,825,000, was this late 20th Century four-bedroom Madison Park home with 4,194 sq. ft. of living space:

Of the 21 house sales, it’s remarkable that five actually sold for more than their original listing prices, one sale at $1,335,000 representing a 21.5% premium over the list price of $1,099,000.  That sale occurred after the house was on the market only eight days. Also noteworthy was the homeowner who sold at original list price, $1,295,000, after the home had been 510 days on the market, proving that holding to your price sometimes actually works. On the other hand, one house sale occurred after it had been 236 days on the market, the owner taking a 23.1% discount from the initial asking price.

As noted, inventory is down from last year’s level.  Here’s what’s currently available on the market in Madison Park (Broadmoor and Washington Park included) as reported by Redfin:


Listings:  55
Median List Price:  $1,850,000
Median Sq. Ft.:  4,010
Median Price per Sq. Ft.:  $461
Average Days on Market:  95
Percentage with Price Reductions:  31%
New Listings:  10
Pending Sales:  10


Listings:  18
Median List Price:  $485,000
Median Sq. Ft.:  1,106
Median Price per Sq. Ft.:  $439
Average Days on Market:  110
Percentage with Price Reductions:  39%
New Listings:  4
Pending Sales:  5

There were 81 homes available at this time last year, versus 73 now.  True to form for this market, there are only eight houses for sale at under $1 million, while there are 21 houses available at over $2 million, the most expensive being a Broadmoor property at an “undisclosed” location, a Washington Park “Colonial Design” Estate, and a Washington Park spec mansion, each of the three listed at $6,950,000.  The spec house boasts 8,900 sq. ft. of living space but is beat out by the Broadmoor manse, which has 10,095 sq. ft..  The Washington Park estate home has only 8,250 sq. ft. of living space, but it sits on more than a half acre of property.

At the other end of the spectrum: a 641-sq. ft. condo in Lakeview Lanai for $218,000.

[Thanks to Laura Halliday of Windermere Real Estate for her help in compiling the sales data.  Listing data provided by Redfin, using information from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service. Photo of most expensive house sold courtesy of Redfin.]

Friday, July 27, 2012

August happenings

Get ready for the Blue Angels

If it's Seafair, it's time for the Navy's "flight demonstration squadron" to do its thing--a lot of which takes place over and around Madison Park. It's always a great show, but it's also a brace-yourself moment for many in the neighborhood, since the low-level precision flying means a lot of noise---not just from the six F/A 18 Hornet aircraft putting on the display, but from howling pets and triggered car alarms as well.

Here's the official flying schedule:

Thursday, Aug. 2:  10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. & 1:30 - 2:30 p.m. (Practice)
Friday, Aug. 3:  1:00 p.m. - 2:40 p.m. (Practice)
Saturday, Aug. 4:  1:00 p.m. - 2:40 p.m. (Show)
Sunday, Aug. 5:  1:00 p.m. - 2:40 p.m. (Show)

Note that the I-90 floating bridge will be closed to traffic each of these days, beginning fifteen minutes before the  Blue Angels are scheduled to be in the air and ending thereafter.

Music in the Park returns

Once again this year the popular Music in the Park program, sponsored by the Madison Park Business Association, will be bringing a diverse collection of musical entertainers to our city park the first four Thursday evenings in August.

Here's this year's lineup:

August 2:  The Side Project.  Vocalist/songwriter Suzie Bradford and her bassist/guitarist husband Ben enliven the park with "adult contemporary" sounds.

August 9: Jonathan Kingham.  Expect a little bit of everything---pop, jazz, folk and country---from this Seattle & Nashville-based musician (pictured above).

August 16: Gin Creek. This five-member group of  plays an original mix of blues, r&b, soul, and jazz.  Gin Creek is new to Music in the Park this year.

August 23: Two Scoops Combo. This musical duo, featuring Eric "Two Scoops" Moore on piano, produces "a unique blend of rollicking boogie-woogie humor and heart-felt blues."

Pet Trivia Nite and food donation drive 

The Attic will be the August 14 venue for an evening to benefit Homeward Pet, a Seattle-based, non-profit, no-kill animal shelter. The event, which begins at 8 pm, is sponsored by Fido-N-Scratch, a Mt. Baker pet food retailer that just opened a new store in Leschi.  Store owner Melanie Carroll, a Madison Park resident, tells us that pets are often overlooked when food donations are made to local food banks. This pet-food donation effort is designed to help address this need.

Swim for Life soon to hit the beach

Swim for Life, benefiting the Puget Sound Blood Center, will arrive on the shores Madison Park Beach early on the morning of August 15.  Swim for Life is an annual 2.5 mile, team-based swim across Lake Washington from Medina Beach Park to Madison Park.  A team is four or fewer swimmers and a kayaker. The money raised as a result of this competition supports the Be the Match bone-marow registry of the PSBC.  There are still multiple openings left for swimmers, so if you're interested in participating check out the website here. The deadline for registration is August 8.

Digital photography contest for kids

UW Botanic Gardens to sponsoring a photography contest next month for kids between the ages of 4 and 16.  It's easy to participate.  All that's required is that the pictures be taken in the Arboretum and that they be uploaded to the official Flickr site between August 1 and 31st. Winners will be announced by September 5. More information is available on the Flickr website or by emailing or calling UW Botanic Gardens at 206-543-880/

Volunteers need to help care for Azalea Way

The Arboretum Foundation, UW Botanic Gardens, and Seattle Parks (the co-operators of Washington Park) are looking for help in keeping the Arboretum's "historic" Azalea Way in top shape. To formalize and enhance that effort, an Azalea Way Garden Stewards Program was established earlier this month, and volunteers are being sought to be part of this team.

The work will consist primarily of weeding, mulching, and edging with hand tools, as well as some planting of native groundcovers. Stewards will receive special training from Arboretum staff and benefit from enrichment activities such as lectures and instructional tours hosted by plant experts within the Arboretum’s extended family. 

If you are interested in participating, check out the Stewards Program webpage here.

[Azalea Way photo by dizfunkshinal on Flickr].

Madison Park artist "does" the Olympics

When comes to win, place, or show at this year's Summer Olympics, for Broadmoor's Paul Mullally, it's definitely case of show--art show, that is.  Mullally has the honor of having one of his pieces included in the Olympic Fine Arts 2012 Exhibition, being held next month at the Museum of London. Mullally's oil painting "Alaska Bound - Triumph of the Spirit" (shown above) depicts part of the Alaska fishing fleet docked at Seattle's Fishermen's Terminal.

The aim of the Exhibition is to disseminate and exalt the Olympic spirit and ideals through different works of art from different cultures and in different mediums. Some 500 "contemporary works of art of the highest aesthetic and technical levels" are being shown as part of Exhibition. The participating artists were invited after their work received a positive evaluation by the organizing committee for the Exhibition.

Mullally recently told The Seattle Times's Melissa Davis that he chose this work for submission because he felt that fishing the Arctic waters "expresses what it means to have unity of spirit in pursuit of a common goal."

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Floating bridge opponents lose court case

Process not "arbitrary, capricious nor an abuse of discretion"

A Federal district judge today threw out the court case brought by the Coalition for a Sustainable 520 to force design changes to the floating bridge project. The Washington State Department of Transportation wasted no time this evening in distributing its press release which, while avoiding triumphalist overtones, nevertheless makes the point that as far as the State is concerned it's full speed ahead.

State Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond is quoted as follows: “Our analysis was thorough and exhaustive, and we hope that the ruling by Judge Martinez puts an end to the debate about mobility improvements to this vital corridor.  With the court’s decision, WSDOT can continue with construction of SR 520 improvements as planned and funded."  No mention, however, of the fact that the project, though certainly planned, is only partially funded at this point.

The Coalition, meanwhile, is mum on the issue of whether there will be an appeal of the court's decision. Coalition director Fran Conley tells us that she won't have any comment until she has time to absorb the decision--adding, however, that the decision is "disappointing" and the project itself is "still fiscally irresponsible and is still too damaging to the area."

The full court ruling has been published on line by WSDOT and is available here. The quote in the subheader above comes from Judge Ricardo S. Martinez's ruling on the matter.

[July bridge construction photo courtesy of  WSDOT.]

Pop up store to become permanent?

CurbedSeattle, a website focused on "all-things design, decor, and shelter," reported last week that Madison Park's latest pop-up store was about to become a permanent fixture on the local retail scene. According to Curbed, the Guesthouse Pop-Up Shop, 4110 E. Madison St. (located in the space between the Bank of America branch and the Ewing & Clark office), is about to become the principal location for Guesthouse, a Madrona interior designer and home furnishings retailer.

The Madison Park location has been in operation for a couple of months and, according to Curbed, owner Kate Sehulster is happy with the results and ready to make the move to Madison Park, meanwhile retaining her existing Madrona space. Pop-up stores are temporary retail operations, typically set up in vacant retail spaces to test the market though the use of a short-term lease. Sometimes the retailer finds market acceptance and decides to make the lease permanent.

In this case, however, Sehulster tells us that Curbed is premature in its reporting, since no long-term lease has yet been signed with the building owner.  She confirms, however, that the Guesthouse store is successful in Madison Park and she is seriously looking at making the move permanent.

Since its opening in the fall of 2010, Guesthouse has offered an eclectic mix of interior furnishings, art, textiles, and interior-design services. Guesthouse's Madison Park incarnation fills the space recently occupied by two other pop-up operations, one an antique store and the other an art gallery.  Perhaps Guesthouse will make the pop-up a thing of the past, at least for this particular retail space.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Fat Salmon lands at Madison Park Beach

It's annual ritual here for the swimmers of the Fat Salmon Open Water Swim to arrive on our shore sometime in mid-summer. This year marked the 13th anniversary edition of the race, which includes both a 3.2-mile and a 1.2-mile course. The first swimmer out of the water (that hardy soul without a full wetsuit above) was from the 3.2 mile race, with a time of 1:12 minutes, give or take a few seconds. The water temperature at the beach today was in the neighborhood of 68 degrees, though it was certainly lower than that over most the race course.

And yes, there really is a fat salmon payoff at the end for those swimmers who win their respective races. This is race director Liz Rosen getting up close and personal with one of the "trophies" last year:

[Lower photo courtesy of Fat Salmon.]

Another annual ritual

It was Lobster Day at Bert's on Saturday, one of those occasions that get certain people around here pretty excited. Of course the Lobster was live (flown in from Maine), as were the oysters, manila clams and mussels--at least until they went into the pot!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

So which looks better?


...or this?

The temporary fence came down today; and whatever you call it, Swingset Park, Dogrun Park, or the official name, Madison Park-North Beach, this neighborhood amenity on the Lake has certainly been transformed. We leave it to you to decide whether the removal of the old fence and its attendant blackberry bushes was a good policy move by the Parks people or not.  But in terms of aesthetics?

We understand that crews will be out soon to mow the grass along the line where the temporary fence was positioned. After that it's just a matter of watching the new plantings maturing---and getting used to the new view.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Wells Fargo branch hit again

Vandals strike in the night

It was around 3:00 a.m., early Monday morning, that "unknown suspect(s)" smashed nine or more windows at the Madison Park branch of Wells Fargo (4009 E. Madison St.).  This is the third time vandals have struck this particular branch of the San Francisco-based bank this year, the first such incident occurring in January and the second in May.

According to the online SPD Blotter, a K-9 unit was brought to the crime scene but the police dog was unable to pick up any tracks.

Probably not coincidentally, the Wells Fargo branch on Sandpoint Way NE was also attacked at around 1:30 a.m. the same night, and several windows smashed there.  No word on whether graffiti was found at either location. In one of the earlier incidents here in Madison Park, the vandal(s) left messages indicating support for the Occupy movements.  But whatever the motivation, there certainly does seem to be a pattern.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Madison Valley does Bastille Day

The crowd turned out and the weather generally cooperated for the first-ever Bastille Bash on Saturday, a project of the Madison Valley merchants, assisted with a grant from the City.  The idea of the organizers was to help establish the separate identity of Madison Valley and use the French theme as the vehicle. The plan is for this to be an annual neighborhood event.

The Bash featured food, wine, entertainment, and activities for kids, with a generally festive French spirit on display along the entire stretch of E. Madison Street that constitutes the Valley's business district.

Proceeds from the event benefited the Children’s Response Center, a local nonprofit that provides legal and counseling services to children who have experienced severe abuse, trauma and child crimes.

Bill the Butcher is gonezo

Abandons Madison Valley location

Bill the Butcher, the Seattle-based "organic" meats purveyor, has decamped its Madison Valley store with a lot less fanfare than heralded its arrival there in April 2010. There was no press release from the Madison Valley Merchants Association on this one, so we were unaware that the Butcher was gone until we wandered by during the Bastille Bash on Saturday. This must be a fairly recent development, since the Company's website still lists  Madison Valley as one of its five stores (the others being in Laurelhurst, Woodinville, Redmond and Magnolia).

Bill the Butcher, which was founded in 2009, has had its share of recent troubles. A $4.5 million equity raising effort last summer was unsuccessful, and various media reports have tagged the Company as being "cash strapped." Last summer there was a very public falling out between company co-founder, William Von Schneidau, and his partner, J'Amy Owens, which resulted in the eponymous Bill leaving the Company. Or perhaps there was not a falling out, depending on which version of the story you believe. The resulting lawsuit, however, is a matter of public record.

In February, Bill the Butcher vacated its downtown Bellevue location after only 16 months at that site, and the Company's long-planned store in Edmonds has never opened. Though the tag-line in the window reads sustainable, that obviously didn't prove the case for the Madison Valley store, though whether it applies to the Company as a whole remains to be seen.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A bit of excitement in the 'hood

SPD nabs multiple car-theft suspects

At about 8:30 this evening a Honda was stolen from the neighborhood, with a 911 call immediately going to the police about the incident. The evening shift had just begun at the SPD's East Precinct on Capitol Hill---and ultimately ten squad cars were dispatched into Madison Park to hunt down the four car-theft suspects. The reason for the massive police response was that the suspects had crashed the stolen vehicle into a garbage can in an alley near E. Galer St. and 41st Avenue E. and then had fled in different directions on foot.

One of the suspects ran down the alley, ultimately turning and running towards Lake Washington on E. Lee Street.  At that point he entered the Reed Estate, where he hid until the arrival of a police dog, which apparently was able to track him inside the compound.

Police entered a side door to the Estate and apparently were able to flush the suspect out.

He ended up across the street (42nd Avenue E.), ran though various backyards, jumping over walls and running across decks along the way.  He was eventually cornered and ordered to give himself up.

That's him being hauled away to a squad car in the photo at the top of this posting.  As it happens, this suspect---a young, shirtless black male---ran by the Madison Park Blogger's house right at the time the sirens began wailing, so we were on the case from the start.  We understand from one of our neighbors, Bob Edmiston, that a second suspect, who was later captured near 41st and Galer, was seen using an inhaler while on the run from police.

Scene of the Action (click to enlarge)
Initial reports from police on the scene were that three of the four suspects were in custody.  Here, Officer Moore shows us the location of the ten squad cars in Madison Park at the point the chase ended:

All of the police activity brought dozens of neighbors from their houses to watch the chase unfold.  This caused the police to request over a squad-car P.A. system that everyone move back inside since police dogs were in action and they did not want anyone to get hurt.  As far as we know, no one obliged.


As it happens the initial information we received about this incident was incomplete and, to some extent, inaccurate.  We got an update from the Seattle Police this morning which corrects some aspects of our reporting last night.

According the official police report, which was just made available, the police chase was initiated when two officers in a SPD vehicle sitting at E. Madison St. and McGilvra Boulevard spotted a red Honda traveling at a fast rate of speed eastbound on Madison. The police activated their lights and pulled out in order to stop the Honda for a traffic violation.  The Honda, after slowing down, suddenly rapidly accelerated and the police vehicle pursued the other car as the driver headed into the neighborhood south of Madison (the area of E. Garfield and 43rd Avenue E.).  At one point the car halted and officers left their vehicle, but when the car again sped away the officers decided not to pursue. This, according to SPD spokesperson Detective Mark Jamieson, is consistent with the Seattle Police policy not to endanger the suspects or the public by pursing vehicles in these circumstances.

The police car, however, remained in the area and soon came upon a "citizen" who was franticly jumping up and down, yelling to police (though the officers could not hear what he was saying), and pointing down an alley.  The squad car followed that lead, headed down the alley at 41st Avenue E. and E. Galer St. and discovered the crashed Honda. At that point the driver and passengers bolted.  The two officers chased the driver, described as a young black male wearing a Cincinnati Reds baseball hat, on foot. At about that point the police radio notified the officers that the car was an "unverified" stolen vehicle earlier reported by the King County Police.  Although they briefly lost track of the driver while in pursuit, they eventually tracked him down and arrested him near the intersection of 43rd Avenue E. and E. Blaine Street.

As we reported, two other passengers, also teenagers, were arrested after extensive chases involving K-9 units.  Although there were reports that there might have been a fourth passenger in the vehicle, the police were unable to verify this, and Jamieson reports that "extensive area checks did not turn up other suspects."  While the driver was ultimately booked into the Youth Service Center and is being investigated for "eluding" and "possession of a stolen vehicle," the other two suspects were released to their mothers pending further action on possible charges of "obstructing."

So there you have it:  An unlikely summer evening police drama in Madison Park.

Upcoming road and bridge closures

Floating Bridge will be closed this weekend

Beginning at 11 p.m. Friday, July 13, and continuing through 5 a.m. on Monday, July 16, both directions of SR-520 will be closed from Montlake Boulevard to I-405, with the Montlake Boulevard exit from SR-520 eastbound remaining open.  Construction crews will be doing regular maintenance of the bridge, as well as construction, including demolishing the old 84th Avenue NE overpass and installing more than 200 concrete panels as part of the new lidded overpass at Evergreen Point Road.

Lake Washington Boulevard E. through the Arboretum to be shut down on Sunday and Monday

As part of the ongoing effort to replace street lights in the Washington Park Arboretum with new energy efficient LED lighting, the City will be temporarily closing Lake Washington Boulevard E. to traffic over three separate two-day periods this summer. The first such shutdown will occur beginning Sunday, July 15, at 3 a.m. and continue through 6 p.m. on Monday, July 16.

To quote from the City's press release: "Park and boulevard users should anticipate closures from Foster Island Road on the north end, to Arboretum Drive on the south end of the park. During the closures, access to the Seattle Japanese Garden parking lot will be available from the south end of Lake Washington Boulevard. Access to the Graham Visitors Center and the north end of the Arboretum will be provided from the north end of Lake Washington Boulevard from Foster Island Drive."

June Police Blotter

Attempted carjacking not quite at gunpoint

Madison Park generally isn't the kind of place where anyone would expect to find guns in play, but June may have followed a recent pattern involving gun use in the neighborhood, though whether a gun was actually involved or not is uncertain. The victim certainly thought so.

The incident, which happened around 6:30 a.m. on June 9 near the intersection of E. Madison Street and 41st Avenue E. (the red-mask icon on the map above), is listed by the Seattle Police as a "robbery/street/weapon--attempted" offense. The victim reported that he was talking on his cellphone in his car, which was parked on Madison at the time, when suddenly an "80's sedan, described as "boxy," possibly a Cadillac or El Camino, with a distinctive pinkish grey paint job, pulled in front of him at an angle." According to the police report, "two unknown men, described as Hispanic, exited the vehicle and approached the victim.  He was only able to recall the driver in any detail, as he came to the victim's door and tried to open it by the handle." Fortunately, the victim was able to lock the door, start up his car, and maneuver it around the blocking vehicle. He then drove to safety without pursuit.

No description was provided in the police report of the victim's car, and the initial report which is available on line does not mention the fact that the victim reported to police that when the suspect approached the victim's car in an attempt to enter it he reached into his pocket and appeared to be drawing out an object which the victim assumed was a gun, through a gun was never actually seen.  Gun or not, this is the first report we've had of a carjacking being attempted here in the Park.

More break-ins

Typically for this time of year, there were multiple break-ins in the neighborhood during the month. In one incident, which occurred on the 2000 block of McGilvra Boulevard E. on June 25, the victim reported that sometime during the day a burglar entered the victim's house, probably through a pet door, stealing various items from the premises.

On June 8, on the 1100 block of 36th Avenue E., a homeowner discovered that sometime after he and his wife left their residence for their cabin, someone had broken into their home.  Upon their return they discovered that a backyard patio door was ajar and a backyard window had been shattered. Stolen from the house were two flat-screen televisions and two computers.  "All of the rooms throughout the residence had been rummaged through," according to the police report.

Another break-in occurred on the 1200 block of 42nd Avenue E. on June 29, a non-forced entry and burglary which apparently occurred at night.  Car break-ins occurred on the 1000 block of 37th Avenue E. on June 8 and on the 3800 block of E. Howe Street and the 1800 block of 38th Avenue E. (a block away) on the morning of June 23.

There were a couple of disturbances reported (mask icons on the map), at least once of which involved no more than a barking dog.  The black-hand icon shows the location (the 4200 block of E. Madison St.) of a shoplifting incident.

I was lost but now I'm found

Maria, the grey and white cat from Broadmoor, who "marched away" from home one rainy evening last month was discovered in Washington Park yesterday, many blocks from home.  The thirteen-year-old female, who had apparently been upset by the introduction of a "rambunctious" new male kitten into the household, may have left in a huff but is probably glad to now be back in the protective environment of her longtime home.

Owner Catherine Ramsden reports that Maria made it to safety because of our posting last week about the cat's disappearance.  As it happens, Regina Brown, one of our neighbors who is also a reader of this blog, recognized Maria as the cat that had recently been befriended by her young son Alexander. She fed the kitty to keep it nearby and then checked around to find who the owner was (the Madison Park Blogger was, unfortunately, incommunicado at the time).  Regina found Catherine's contact information through the Madison Park Veterinary Hospital, and cat and owner were united yesterday afternoon.  Maria's thoughts are unrecorded, but Catherine is grateful to have her "delicate and elderly" cat back in the family.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Front-row seating for the new 520

The opponents litigate, WSDOT constructs

A new condo owner in Lakeshore was heard to complain recently about the fact that almost as soon as he moved into his place a giant barge crane pulled up and moored itself right in the middle of what had previously been a pristine view of the Lake.  He’s reported to have exclaimed to a neighbor, “Am I going to have to deal with this for years?”  Probably so.

That barge crane, very evident to anyone driving towards the Lake on Madison Street, is part of the opening phase of what’s expected to be a three-year timetable for construction of the new SR-520 floating bridge.

That’s unless the opponents get their way, which is to stop the project at least until it can be designed to meet their objections. They go to court tomorrow morning, arguing that a less-invasive four-lane replacement highway across the Lake would be sufficient, given the bridge tolls currently in place.  The federal court hearing in Seattle, which begins at 10:00 a.m., will deal with the legal issues raised in the various briefs submitted by the Coalition for a Sustainable 520 and the respondents, the Washington State Department of Transportation and the feds. Information about the hearing, including copies of the briefs, is available on the Coalition's website.

Meanwhile, WSDOT's contractors, Kiewit/General/Manson (a joint venture), continue to work away on the Lake, though delivery of the first new pontoons from Aberdeen has been delayed because cracks were discovered in the first batch.  Although initial reports indicated that the problem had been fixed and WSDOT posted a video explaining the problem and the fix (available here), that particular solution apparently didn't entirely do the job. New cracks occurred. A review panel is supposed to figure out what to do and report back to WSDOT by today.

Medina is where the first pontoons will be positioned later this summer (late July at the earliest), to the west of the area where the Eastside landings are now being prepared:

Concrete for two of the 58 pontoon anchors has been poured and at least one gravity anchor installed. Gradually, the pontoons will advance toward our side of the lake, and the bridge will be constructed over them. We, of course, will have a front-row seat for all of this action.

[Lower photo courtesy of WSDOT.]

Say it's not so! Clown's unicycle goes missing

According to a report we received this morning, it turns out that after Deano the Clown finished meeting and greeting some of his young fans at yesterday's Madison Park Days picnic, he discovered that his signature unicycle, which earlier had been "borrowed" by some kids, had not been returned.  Later searches of the park turned up not a single unicycle.

If you have any information which could lead to the return of Deano's best means of transportation, please contact us and we'll be sure to let Deano know.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Great day for a parade!

One fine leisurely stroll down Madison Street

In what was probably a first for the Madison Park Days Children's Parade, the Seattle Police Department beat out the Seattle Fire Department for the honor of leading the procession yesterday. Engine 34, which usually arrives well before the parade begins and then sets the very slow and steady pace, was busy elsewhere when the parade was scheduled to begin at noon.  At about 12:15, with antsy kids and their parents long ready to move, an SPD squad car pulled out and headed down the street--lights flashing and, occasionally, siren screaming--and the parade was off and---well, slow walking.

Some of the "marchers" really got into the spirit of the thing...

...while others showed, perhaps, a bit more skepticism:

Most seemed to be having a pretty good time, however, including those few who bothered to get costumed for the occasion:

Engine 34, by the way, did make its appearance near the end of the parade line, nicely washed and shined up for the festivities, which ended with the always-well-received Picnic in the Park.

Madison Park Days is sponsored by the Madison Park Business Association.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Summertime is crime time

More words for the wise

Summer is the season when we generally remind our readers to be vigilant and lessen their chances of becoming the victim of criminals. The warmer weather usually leads to a spike in certain kinds of crime, yet every year around this time we start hearing stories of people doing things that in hindsight are downright foolhardy. Like leaving a ladder lying next to the house with an upstairs window open. Or working in the side yard with the front door ajar. Oversights such as these are less likely to occur if you take the time to think about the ways you and your property may be vulnerable.

A springtime rash of relatively petty burglaries and several car thefts got the attention of residents in our part of the neighborhood a couple of months ago.  This spike in crime prompted Adele and Dan Clancy to contact the SPD and arrange for an evening meeting in their living room for neighbors to meet with some of the officers who patrol Madison Park.

Here are some worthwhile tips that came out of that session, as reported by the Clancys:

  • If you are going away from your property, set up light timers to go off and on throughout the house at all hours during the night, not just between dusk and bedtime.
  • If your car is on the street all the time, buy a steering wheel club, just to be safe. Never leave things in your car that might provoke interest and result in a break in. Never leave valuables overnight in the glove box or trunk. (An aside: Subarus are the cars most likely to be stolen right now.)
  • A barking dog in your house is the Number One deterrent to a burglar.
  • If you see someone suspicious in a vehicle, it’s ok to take a picture of the vehicle license plates, but do not attempt to photograph the individual. (Your phone could be later confiscated and used for evidence.)
  • When you are home alone, never open the door for a stranger.  Yell through the door (you do not need to be seen) announcing that “we” are all busy and don’t have time. Make it very clear you have another person in the house with you, even if you are alone.
  • Always call the police when you have a concern or see something suspicious. Never assume another neighbor is going to make the call. If you call with a concern and it matches up with another, then it gets quick attention. Your calls keep the SPD attentive to our area and help keep our neighborhood safe.
  • Be aware of elderly and shut-in neighbors and their families.  Keep track of who is coming and going. (There was recently a serious case of elder abuse in Madison Park. Neighbors, in that case, believed that an elderly resident was being cared for by hired caregivers, though some people entering the man’s home were actually “stealing the house clean.”)

We’ve provided some additional crime fighting tips in past years, including the advice from the SPD that homeowners install video cameras to encourage criminals to take their break-in somewhere else. (Some pointers on being vigilant are available here.)

The Seattle Police Department is ready and willing to schedule other living-room conversations for those interested in learning more about how to fight crime.  To encourage these meetings, the police provide the food, beverages, crime-fighting flyers--and themselves. The Clancys report that the meeting with the police at their house was very useful for those who attended. The contact for this area is Officer Sina Ebinger at SPD's East Precinct (941-8457).