Friday, June 28, 2013

Remembering Martha in bronze

It's the work of well-known Whidbey Island animal sculptor Georgia Gerber and depicts in bronze a sitting springer spaniel, surrounded by multiple birds. The new installation at Triangle Park, dedicated earlier this week, is the latest piece of public art in Madison Park.  It's the gift to the neighborhood of friends of Martha Harris, who owned and loved springer spaniels and who, by all accounts, appreciated nature and harmony (in Gerber's sculptural setting, one of the birds sits unconcerned at the spaniel's feet).

It's interesting to note that Ms. Harris, in death, has apparently inspired more than one public art display, since the recently installed brightly-colored lamp post at 43rd and Madison is rumored to be a homage to her as well.

Monday, June 24, 2013

The 'West Approach' is upon us

It's perhaps more easily seen by our neighbors across the Bay in Laurelhurst than by most of us here in the Park, but the Western anchor of the new floating bridge, Pier 36, is rapidly rising out of the Lake, just to the north of of us. The new pier, which is best viewed from the grounds of the Edgewater Apartments complex, is mostly obscured by the old floating bridge, which sits just to the South. But as work platforms are added to the four bridge columns over the next few months, this structure will become a much more prominent fixture of the "lakescape."

Pier 36, as it happens, is a pivotal component of the new bridge, since it will also be the Eastern anchor of the new West Approach Bridge, the first phase of which is being called the  West Connection Bridge.  Confusing?  Well, here are some illustrations to help us unravel the situation:

The above graphic shows (in blue) the Western endpoint at Pier 36 of the new floating bridge. To the left of the blue (in yellow and orange) is the path of the new West Connection Bridge, a 1,330 foot-long span that will intersect with the old floating bridge at a point just to the North of Madison Park.  Eventually, the new West Connection Bridge (referred to by WSDOT as an "interim structure") will become the south lanes of the new West Approach Bridge:

Unfortunately, other than for the West Connection Bridge, there is currently no funding for the rest of the south lanes of the new West Approach Bridge.  The North lanes (which are shown in orange on the graphic immediately above) are funded, however, and construction will move forward on them in the summer of 2014. The cost of the unfunded South lanes is estimated to be $1.4 billion, according to WSDOT.  When the Western Approach Bridge North has been completed in the fall of 2016, westbound traffic will travel on the new structure while Eastbound traffic will travel on the existing West approach and the West Connection Bridge.

This graphic gives a better picture of how the West Connection Bridge intersects with the old 520 structure and shows the placement of the eleven other piers, besides Pier 36, that will make up this portion of the highway:

Madison Park is going to be increasingly impacted by work on this construction phase (increased construction noise, at a minimum); but our pain will inevitably be less than that of neighboring Montlake, which will have to endure most of the collateral impact of the West Approach Bridge's construction activity.

This week you will have the opportunity to ask WSDOT all about the project, and you will not have to venture very far from home to do so. There will be a "pre-construction" meeting about the West Connection Bridge held at Pioneer Hall (1642 43rd Avenue E.) on Wednesday, June 36 (4:30 until 7 pm).

Things are about to get interesting.

[Graphics, other than photos, courtesy of the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT).]

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Current and upcoming

It was a warm, sunny day and the lifeguards were back on duty at the beach yesterday,so this must be summer!  Through September 22, the lifeguards will be on site from noon until 7 pm each weekday and from 11 am until 7 pm on weekends. The water temperature at the beach yesterday, by the way, was approximately 64 degrees, which was enticing enough for many swimmers to dive in, sans wetsuits.

Here's a roundup of what's happening in the general vicinity of Madison Park (or is about to happen):

On Monday there will be a dedication of a garden sculpture in Triangle Park in memory of longtime Madison Park shop owner Martha Harris, who died of cancer last fall. The dedication will occur at 11 am, with a wine reception to occur immediately thereafter, hosted by Bing's.  This, according to Nicole Brodeur, as reported in The Seattle Times last week.

The UW Athletic Department will apparently be doing a check of  Husky Stadium's new sound system today between 9:30 and 3:30, so it is just possible that some residents on the North side of Madison Park will hear intermittent "white noise" at various points during the day. Don't be disturbed.

Madison Parkers will not have to exert themselves in order to get to see all of the eight Mayoral candidates in one place at one time.  On Monday, July 1 there will be a candidate forum at the Martin Luther King, Jr. F.A.M.E. Community Center in Madison Valley (the building that originally housed the MLK Elementary School, 3201 E. Republican St.).  The topic of the forum, which begins at 7 pm, will be "Liveable Streets."  You can register online, if you wish, here.

We have a couple of swimming events coming to Madison Park Beach in the next couple of months:  The Fat Salmon Open Water Swim will be back on July 20, and the Puget Sound Blood Center's Swim for Life arrives on August 21.  More details as we get closer to these dates.

On June 29 (9 until 11 am) you can "Walk with the Conscientious Gardener" as Dr. Sarah Reichard, Director of the UW Botanic Gardens, discusses practical tips on garden conscientiousness from her book (The Conscientious Gardner, of course) while leading a tour of the Arboretum.  On August 10 (8 until 9:30 pm), the Botanic Gardens' environmental education team will be leading another "Park in the Dark" hike through the Arboretum in search of "crepuscular and nocturnal" forest movements.  Additional "Park in the Dark" nights will be held on August 31, September 12 and 28, and October 12. Details of these UWBG events can be obtained by calling (206) 685-8033, and registration is available here.

And speaking of the Arboretum, the annual "Garden Party" fundraiser for the Japanese Garden will be held this year on July 26 in the Garden, beginning at 5:30 pm.  The event features a dinner, the opportunity to stroll the grounds on a (hopefully) warm summer's evening, and an auction. More details and tickets are available here.

A new Washington Park residence (4100 E. Highland Drive) designed by architect Eric Cobb will be featured as the AIA Seattle/NW Home "Open House of the Month" on July 21 (noon until 3 pm). The house is profiled in this month's edition of Seattle magazine, which also has a short feature on Washington Park designer April Pride and her "miracle dress."

Finally, don't forget:  the first weekend after the Fourth of July the annual Kids Parade and Picnic returns.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

No worries: this is not a permanent installation

Parked bridge pontoon worries Madison Park residents

It's known as Pontoon W, and its arrival on the scene has spread consternation in the neighborhood as many Madison Parkers asked themselves, "Is this going to be what the new floating bridge looks like?"  Well, yes and no.

The pontoon is moored just north of the existing floating bridge at a point where the bridge begins its ascent to the Western high rise. In this position the pontoon's upright columns tower menacingly over the old bridge, imposingly taller and significantly wider. Several readers emailed us to get reassurance that this is not a portent of the future view of 520 from Madison Park.

We quizzed WSDOT on the subject and can reassuringly report that while the bridge will not be that high and wide at this particular Westside venue, Pontoon W is ultimately destined to be placed on the Eastside of the bridge--where it will be that wide and, actually, even higher (the roadbed, obviously, will go on top of the columns).

Pontoon W is only temporarily parked at its current position on the Lake, awaiting a move in mid-July to a Seattle drydock, where it will be repaired, according to WSDOT spokesperson, Debera Carlton Harrell. As has been extensively reported in the mainstream media, the pontoons are not precisely lakeworthy.  Repairs are on the agenda for many of them, since cracks have appeared in four of the first six pontoons deployed on the Lake, the result of a now-infamous design error. The repairs will take place for these imperfect pontoons during June and July.  For our readers who are not keeping up, the epic saga of the pontoons is detailed here.  WSDOT, meanwhile, has a handy graphic showing in detail how the pontoons will be repaired here.  For those who just want the overview:  the defective pontoons are going to be subjected to epoxy injections, "transverse post-tensioning" of their walls, and carbon-fiber wrapping of their "keel slabs."  The completed pontoons that have not already been moved to the Lake are being retrofitted to the new standard in Aberdeen, while the pontoons that have yet to be constructed for the new bridge will be built using a new, improved design.

Pontoon W

Pontoon W will ultimately be placed near the "Eastside Navigation Channel" of the new floating bridge.  Larger boats seeking to move between the North and South ends of Lake Washington, such as the bigger Argosy Cruise ships, will do so through this Eastside aperture (which is currently not open due to construction). The new bridge will have a 44-foot-high Westside navigation channel but no opening span in the middle, so it's the Eastside channel or nothing for the larger boats. Clearance there, according to Harrell, will be approximately 70 feet, equal to the I-90 floating bridge channel's height.

There will be plenty of time for Madison Park residents to get upset about future 520 floating bridge developments, should they choose to do so.  Right now, one of the Western piers of the bridge is under construction, not easily visible from Madison Park. Work is underway to the Northwest of Pontoon W, on the Laurelhurst side. Known as Pier 36, this into-the-lakebed structure will anchor the new bridge's Western high rise. As work continues on this and other parts of the now-funded West Approach to the new 520 bridge, the implications for Madison Park's views may become more obvious, at least to those on the Northside of the neighborhood.

This graphic shows the positioning of Pier 36 off the "coast" of Madison Park:

Meanwhile, just to round out our coverage, here's the latest on the progress of bridge construction on the Eastside:

Pier 1 under construction with Pier 2 in the background

Our Pontoon W is destined to be the very first pontoon drivers will encounter after passing over the Eastside piers on their route over the bridge Westbound.

[Upper photo by Madison Park Blogger.  All other photos courtesy of the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT).]

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Keira Knightly movie filming in Madison Park

As we go to press, so to speak, a movie crew is setting up a scene for the movie Laggies at the intersection of 41st Avenue E. and E. Newton St.  Madison Park is one of several Seattle venues being used for this movie, which we understand was on location in Ballard yesterday.

According to press reports, there were casting calls last month for actors from the Seattle area to play supporting roles and to serve as extras in this movie. The Internet Movie Database states that Laggies is a film about "a woman stuck in permanent adolescence [who] lies to her fiancĂ© about going on a retreat and spends the time hanging out with friends instead."  The movie is supposed to be a "dark comedy."

Seattle native Lynn Shelton, who was recently profiled on KPLU, is the the director.

While we were on the scene we did not spot either Keira Knightly or her co-star, Chloe Grace Moretz (inset).  The crew was mum on the subject of their current whereabouts, and a passerby told us that those who waited to see Knightly in Ballard yesterday were disappointed when she was whisked away without signing autographs for fans, including several little girls.

The movie crew's permit allows the production company to stay in Madison Park through 11 pm today, though presumably filming will be wrapped up well before that time (in case you are planning to wander by and see a bit of Hollywood action up close).

Monday, June 10, 2013

Broadmoor eagles featured in Seattle Times story

For those who don't read the paper, we note that today's edition of The Seattle Times features a nicely written front-page story by Erik Lacitis about Montlake bird photographer Larry Hubbell.  Hubbell, as readers of this blog know, has been keeping tabs on the Broadmoor eagles as part of his efforts to chronicle  birdlife on Union Bay. His blog, Union Bay Watch, has a lot of new pictures of the Broadmoor eagle pair, "Eva and Albert," as well as their new eaglet born last month.  We admit that though we often read Hubbell's blog, we happened to miss this news.

The Times, by the way, printed a big photo of Hubbell standing with his equipment on the pier at the 37th Avenue E. road end, the Beaver Lodge Sanctuary. This is a good spot to observe nature and forget that you are in the midst of a major urban center (assuming you look to the west and screen out the traffic noise from SR 520).

[Eagle photo by and used with the permission of Larry Hubbell.]

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Runners overwhelm Madison Park for a good cause

More than 3,000 runners, walkers, staffers and volunteers arrived in Madison Park this morning to participate in the 36th Annual Shore Run/Walk to benefit Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.  And that's not counting the many spectators that assembled to cheer the entrants on and to celebrate in the park when it was all over.

Here's the arrival of the winners of the 10K race, who crossed the finish line on E. Madison Street about 33 minutes after the race began in Ferdinand Street Park, just north of Seward Park:

We always enjoy watching the Kid's Run, which was sponsored this year by Bert's Red Apple.  Here the runners get ready:

And here are the winners, about ready to cross the finish line (while checking out the competition):

Saturday, June 8, 2013

La Cote closes

It must have happened last week, since we're pretty sure the place was still open last weekend. But the sign in the window says it all: "It is bittersweet that we have to close our doors to move on to new ventures."  La Cote Cafe and Wine Bar, long a Madison Valley mainstay, has closed its doors. The timing of the restaurant's demise is ironic given that it has been an integral part (under one owner or another) of the French-themed Madison Valley marketing effort, which includes the upcoming Bastille Day celebration, July 13.  La Cote is notably absent from the list of participating restaurants on the Bastille Bash webpage.

Apparently there will soon be a new Italian restaurant in La Cote's space.  The message in the window welcomes "a new friend to the neighborhood: Bar Cantinetta."  No word on whether the new friend is related to the Cantinetta that has locations in Wallingford and Bellevue.  The scheduled opening date of the new eatery is late July.

With La Cote now out of the picture and Rover's closing later this month, it looks like Madison Valley is going to be a little bit less French from now on.

Friday, June 7, 2013

May Police Blotter

Senseless destruction is a constant in the neighborhood

Though we don't discuss the subject very often in our monthly crime reporting, acts of vandalism occur fairly frequently in Madison Park. This past month an incident at McGilvra Elementary School brought some added attention to the problem, however.  As reported in the Madison Park Times, vandals have trashed the School's garden on a couple of occasions this spring, including an incident on May 6 when a bird feeder was knocked over, a picnic bench was broken, and a retaining wall was tagged.  Property destruction  (indicated by spray-paint-can icons on the map above) happens in Madison Park virtually every month, with many of these incidents going unreported to the police.

Typical of these crimes is graffiti on signs, trees, walls, and garbage containers. An incident on May 29 at a condo building on the 2400 block of 43rd Avenue E. is a case in point: everything on the list was apparently tagged except for the dumpster. The crime map shows only incidents where police were called and there was an investigation.  Incidents reported to police online (which we will discuss in more detail below) do not get recorded on the official crime map, so there are probably more property-damage reports each month than those we officially know of.  Last year the bathhouse's notice board was trashed on a couple of occasions, though public property is hardly the sole target of neighborhood vandals.  Fences seem to be an inviting place for disseminating graffiti (if, indeed, graffiti can be considered something that's disseminated).

Last month there were five neighborhood vehicle break-ins investigated by the SPD: on the 3100 block of E. Madison St. on May 3, on the 2100 block of 40th Avenue E. on May 13, on the 1600 block of 39th Avenue E. on May 20 (two incidents), and on the 2400 block of 42nd Avenue E. on May 22.  No vehicles were reported stolen.

There was only one reported house break-in during the period.  On May 7 a home on the 1100 block of 36th Avenue E. was burglarized.  The homeowner reported that when she entered her computer room she noticed that her desktop computer was missing, along with her iPad and its case.  It appeared that the perpetrator had entered the house through an open window, making use of a lawn chair which was found propped against the house.  Fingerprints and a palm print were lifted from the crime scene.

There were also two found-property reports duirng May.  In one incident on May 17 a homeowner reported to police that she a had discovered a yellow and black Huffy mountain bike a her house.  The police report notes that the serial number did not match any bicycles reported stolen.  In a second incident, on May 3, a passerby noticed that there was a red package in the street at 33rd and E. Madison Street.  Police determined that it was US Postal Service bag and retrieved it.

A note about online crime reporting: SPD provides a fast, convenient way for victims to report property crimes by utilizing a website ( rather than calling 911. The advantage of this method of reporting is that a case number is assigned to the incident (one that can be used for insurance purposes) and the victim doesn't have to wait around for a police officer to arrive at the scene to take a statement. This system should not be used for reporting any crime in progress or any incident where the police should evaluate the crime scene.  It is available for reporting property crimes only.

Remember, Shore Run tomorrow

Those seeking easy ingress or egress should take note that the annual Shore Run/Walk returns to Madison Park tomorrow morning, with bus shuttle service beginning at 6:30 am.  So expect some parking issues in the core areas of the neighborhood and some delays in traffic as the runners and walkers make their way, quickly or slowly, to the finish line on E. Madison.  The routes for the various races are shown on the Shore Run website.  The 5K run begins at 8:15 in Leschi.