West Seattle weekend scene: Halloween Rainbow Bingo

October 25, 2014 at 3:56 am | In Fun stuff to do, West Seattle news | No Comments

More early Halloween fun in West Seattle on Friday night, this time in The Junction, as the Halloween edition of Rainbow Bingo filled the big hall upstairs at the Senior Center of West Seattle. Hostess Sylvia O’Stayformore had more than a few costumed guests to admire:

Calendar shows she’ll be back at the West Seattle center with the Holidazzle edition of Rainbow Bingo on December 5th – and tickets are already on sale online.

Hearing a helicopter? Not law enforcement, SPD says

October 24, 2014 at 11:08 pm | In Helicopter, West Seattle news | 18 Comments

11:08 PM: We’ve received multiple reports of a helicopter heard in the Seaview and Arbor Heights areas. We’ve checked with Seattle Police, and Lt. Alan Williams says it’s not Guardian One – quiet night for SPD. Still checking, but it’s a mystery for now.

12:08 PM: Just back from tracking it for a while. As noted in comments, it was flying too high for a search. Too dark, of course, to have any idea what it looked like. Not sure if we’ll be able to figure this one out, but we’re still trying.

West Seattle Halloween scene: Swimming with pumpkins

October 24, 2014 at 9:48 pm | In Fun stuff to do, West Seattle news | No Comments

With Halloween/harvest events aplenty in West Seattle for the next week-plus, tonight was the big night for local Seattle Parks facilities, including Southwest Pool, scene of an annual free family swim. Lifeguards were in costume, lights and decorations added to the atmosphere, and swimmers could play with floating pumpkins as well as the usual pool toys.

P.S. This was featured in our Halloween Guide, where you’ll find dozens more events from tomorrow through early November – and we’re adding more tonight (thanks to everyone sending theirs in).

Vehicle flips in High Point, one person hurt

October 24, 2014 at 8:49 pm | In High Point, West Seattle news | No Comments

(Photo courtesy Michelle)
One person was taken to the hospital after that flipped-vehicle crash near 30th/Graham in High Point about an hour ago. Thanks to Michelle for the top photo. She reports that, “My husband and I heard a loud crash and then the sound of a car speeding away at a very high speed. We came out and found a car flipped in the intersection, with 1 man inside. The man seems to have some injuries, but was able to climb out of the car with some assistance.” At least one parked car was damaged (at right in the photo). This was originally dispatched as a “heavy rescue,” but the response was scaled back when it was determined the person in the vehicle got out OK.

(WSB photo)
Officers at the scene told us the man did not have life-threatening injuries.

More Seattle City Light work ahead: North of Morgan Junction

October 24, 2014 at 6:11 pm | In Utilities, West Seattle news | 1 Comment

(Click map to see it full-size)
More Seattle City Light modernization work is on the way between The Junction and Morgan Junction. If this affects you, SCL says, you should have received a flyer. In case you didn’t – or otherwise missed it – we’re sharing the news too:

Seattle City Light is continuing to make electrical improvements in portions of West Seattle by increasing capacity from 4 kV to 26kV. The attached flyer was mailed recently and explained the details to affected customers. …

· What is the work? Conversion of service from 4 to 26kV will improve the electrical capacity in a neighborhood north of Morgan Junction. This modernization has been ongoing in different portions of West Seattle since 2008. The work involves replacing old poles with new ones and adding new cross arms, insulators, transformers and wires.

· What is the schedule? Beginning of November for approximately two months. See flyer for details.

· What are the impacts? Affected customers will experience a maximum of three outages during this work. Crews will place a door hanger or make personal contact 48-72 hours in advance of outages. The notification will specify the date, time and duration of the outage.

· Point of Contact? Michael Gabrielson, Electrical Service Representative, at 206-386-4245 or michael.gabrielson@seattle.gov , or visit seattle.gov/light/aboutus/construction

This is separate from the other West Seattle work that City Light announced earlier this month, cable maintenance via silicon injection in Fauntlee Hills and Sunrise Heights.

West Seattle Weather Watch: Mountain snow; storm alert canceled

October 24, 2014 at 4:24 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle weather | 1 Comment

Look what’s back! Gary Jones shares the photo of snow on the Olympic Mountains, first major sighting from West Seattle this fall. Other weather news: The “special weather statement” suggesting possibly strong wind tomorrow has been dropped. Areas east of Seattle are under a wind advisory for tonight/tomorrow, but the forecast for our area is now back down to just rainy and breezy through Saturday night. For Sunday’s West Seattle Junction Harvest Festival (next big preview later tonight), things still look calmer still – cloudy with only a chance of showers.

West Seattle (Athletic) Club update: Closure, day 2

October 24, 2014 at 3:33 pm | In West Seattle businesses, West Seattle news | 15 Comments

What appears to be a transition at West Seattle (Athletic) Club continues, with the fitness center closed again today, as announced in e-mail Wednesday and posted on the doors Thursday, both saying it will reopen tomorrow. We went by after a tip that police were called there at midday. No officers there when we arrived, but we did see the truck shown above and exercise equipment sitting outside.

SPD told us the call was about “a disturbance,” but did not lead to arrests. Today was the court-ordered deadline for club owner Sam Adams to pay property owner John Pietromonaco $1.1 million or face eviction; when contacted earlier this week, Pietromonaco told WSB that he had “a plan” if that didn’t happen. We asked the King County Sheriff’s Office if it had or was planning to serve eviction papers; spokesperson Sgt. DB Gates said the “writ of restitution” issued October 6th in the unlawful-detainer (eviction) case has been assigned to a detective, but they don’t comment further on specific plans for serving paperwork (or not).

ADDED 9:33 PM: Commenter John sent a photo of the drained pool, visible from the sidewalk:

If you plan on going there first thing tomorrow morning, please let us know (comment, e-mail, phone/text, whatever works) what you find – open, closed, etc. Thank you!

Followup: New information, as West Seattle’s Senior Center mulls going independent

October 24, 2014 at 1:11 pm | In West Seattle news | 4 Comments

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

The Senior Center of West Seattle has gone through one big change and is contemplating another. And today, we have more context for both.

One week ago, we published the announcement of a meeting at which center supporters hope to hear what you think about its relationship with the citywide nonprofit Senior Services, as they ask “Should We Stay or Should We Go?” – with “go” meaning, breaking off and operating independently.

This follows months of behind-the-scenes uncertainty that followed Senior Services’ firing in July of the West Seattle center’s longtime executive director Karen Sisson. (While SS does not own the center, it provides staffing and other services.)

SS has not commented on the reason for Sisson’s firing, but she has said it was about an e-mail she mistakenly circulated more widely than she intended, expressing concerns about a possible change in its relationship with West Seattle and other centers.

She has asked us to share that e-mail with you. And we have talked with a Senior Services spokesperson to find out what they are considering and why.

Click to read the rest of Followup: New information, as West Seattle’s Senior Center mulls going independent…

Crime Watch followup: Christopher A. Brown pleads guilty in Roxbury rape/beating attack

October 24, 2014 at 11:28 am | In Crime, West Seattle news, White Center | 16 Comments

Just discovered this in the court files:

The man charged in last March’s rape and beating of a 58-year-old woman near 22nd/Roxbury has pleaded guilty. The attack drew regional-media attention as deputies went door to door searching for clues to solve the exceptionally violent attack. 25-year-old Christopher Anthony Brown was found via a DNA match, arrested in Oklahoma in June, charged with rape and assault, and extradited. Investigators said Brown had been visiting this area when he attacked the victim as she waited for a bus – asking her for a cigarette, then offering her money for sex, and when she declined, dragging her into nearby shrubbery, choking her until she was nearly unconscious, beating her, raping her, robbing her, and threatening to kill her and her family if she reported it.

According to documents in the online files, prosecutors will recommend a sentence that would put Brown in prison for 171 months – just over 14 years. Brown pleaded guilty last week to one count each of rape, assault, and robbery. King County Superior Court Judge Julie Spector is scheduled to sentence him on November 14th.

West Seattle Friday: Halloweekend #1; Ye Olde Curiosity Shop @ Log House Museum; Fall Falcon Fest; Highland Park square dance…

October 24, 2014 at 10:39 am | In West Seattle news, WS miscellaneous | 2 Comments

(Thanks to Bradi for the photo of Johnnie the cat admiring Thursday’s rainbow!)
From the WSB West Seattle Event Calendar – first event, actually, was just announced last night and never even made it into the calendar:

YE OLDE CURIOSITY SHOP AT LOG HOUSE MUSEUM: With part of the downtown waterfront closed for seawall work, one of its iconic businesses, Ye Olde Curiosity Shop, is getting a special spotlight at the Log House Museum. That starts with an opening reception this afternoon, 2 pm, featuring members of its founding family – full details on the LHM website. (61st/Stevens)

Next, this is definitely Halloweekend #1; though October 31st is a week away, the biggest fun starts this afternoon/evening, and it’s in our West Seattle Halloween Guide, including:

RAINBOW BINGO: 6 pm, doors open for Halloween Rainbow Bingo at the Senior Center of West Seattle. Fun, food, cash prizes! Wear your costume! Must be 18 or older. Featuring Sylvia O’Stayformore and guest bingo callers. Follow the link to check ASAP if reservations are still available. (California/Oregon)

ALKI HALLOWEEN CARNIVAL: Carnival at Alki Community Center, 6:30-8:30 pm. $.25 per game or $7 per unlimited bracelet. (5817 SW Stevens)

HIAWATHA HALLOWEEN CARNIVAL: Carnival at Hiawatha Community Center, 6-8 pm. 25 cents a ticket. (2700 California SW)

SOUTHWEST POOL SPOOKY SWIM: Free Halloween Family Swim at Southwest Pool, 7-8 pm. “Bring your little ghosts and goblins to the pool and take a dip with the pumpkins! Join in with a penny dive, bobbing for apples and other activities. Anyone under 18 yrs old must be accompanied in the water by an adult or guardian.” (2801 SW Thistle)

‘GHOST GAME’: The Cabiri in ‘Ghost Game VIII: 13 Witches’ at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, 8 pm. Tickets and details here. (4408 Delridge Way SW)

Back to the regular calendar – some of tonight’s other highlights:

FALL FALCON FEST: 5-8 pm, the first festival at newly reopened Fairmount Park Elementary School – alumni are encouraged to come, too, and special tours are part of the plan. Details in our preview from earlier in the month. (38th/Findlay)

HIGHLAND PARK ELEMENTARY SQUARE DANCE: 6 pm, dinner (free!), 7-9 pm, square dancing with live music, and more – including free pumpkins to take home, while they last! – presented by the Highland Park Elementary PTA. (1012 SW Trenton)

PEACE ON THE BEACH: As part of Seattle Parks’ Week Without Violence, teens are invited to the Alki Bathhouse at 6 tonight for pizza, discussions, and s’more-making. (2701 Alki SW)

SWEET, SWEET MUSIC, FEATURING ALICE STUART: 7:30 pm at Fauntleroy Church, the high-energy blues artistry of Alice Stuart is spotlighted in the latest edition of Sweet, Sweet Music.

TOTAL EXPERIENCE GOSPEL CHOIR’S MICHAEL JACKSON TRIBUTE: 7:30 pm at Kenyon Hallread about it here! (7904 35th SW)

Fauntleroy salmon: Drumming on Sunday; watch starts Monday

October 24, 2014 at 9:38 am | In West Seattle news, Wildlife | 3 Comments

(WSB photo from last year’s Fauntleroy Creek gathering to call the salmon home)
Last year, they were a no-show; the year before, a record run. What will this year bring for coho salmon in Fauntleroy Creek? Steward Judy Pickens says would-be salmon spectators are already showing up at the creek but should know, no one’s seen any yet, and the official volunteer-powered salmon watch won’t start until Monday. Once they see one, she’ll share the news with us, and you’ll be welcome to come down and try to get a glimpse any time a salmon-watcher is on duty. Meantime, the symbolic start to the season is this Sunday, 5 pm, when you are invited to join in the annual “calling the salmon home” gathering at the Fauntleroy fish ladder (Fauntleroy/Director, across the street from the ferry dock, up the embankment) – bring something to drum with if you can, but not mandatory.

TRAFFIC/TRANSIT TODAY: Friday updates; weekend (& beyond) previews

October 24, 2014 at 6:21 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle traffic alerts | No Comments

(WS bridge and Highway 99 views; more cams on the WSB Traffic page)
Happy Friday! Traffic watch is on. And so are our previews for the weekend and beyond:

LOTS OF HALLOWEEN: This weekend is arguably bigger for Halloween events than October 31st. Preview them in our West Seattle Halloween Guide. And take extra care out there tonight and tomorrow night.

WEEKEND TRAFFIC ALERTS, CITYWIDE: See SDOT’s roundup for this weekend here.

HARVEST FESTIVAL ON SUNDAY: Junction streets are closed and buses are on reroute for Sunday’s 10 am-2 pm festival – the closure starts first thing in the morning, as participants (including us!) will be loading in, as will Farmers’ Market vendors.

WATER TAXI SCHEDULE CHANGE ON MONDAY: The 7-day-a-week, all-day West Seattle Water Taxi schedule ends Sunday. Then on Monday, the 5-day fall/winter schedule begins – preview it here.

Firefighter Storytime brings Engine 37 to High Point Library – and word of its future replacement

October 23, 2014 at 10:25 pm | In West Seattle fires, West Seattle news | 5 Comments

(WSB photos by Torin Record-Sand)
Today, firefighters from Station 37 in Sunrise Heights came to High Point Branch Library to read “No Dragons for Tea” to preschoolers and to explain basic rules of fire safety. They opened the reading with news that Engine 37 will be replaced soon by a newer fire engine. More on that shortly. First: Brian Shaner read for the storytime today.

Other firefighters from Station 37 – Lt. Paul Adams, Jorge Bernal, and Tiffany Colman – were present for the reading. After reading, Bernal suited up to introduce the children to what a fully suited firefighter looks like.

The goal of this part of the presentation is to help kids know, if they ever are in an emergency situation and come face to face with a suited-up firefighter, that they shouldn’t be scared.

After about 25 minutes, everyone was invited to take a tour of Engine 37, which was parked outside the library.

We asked SFD spokesperson Kyle Moore later about the replacement plan for E-37. He confirmed: “Station 37 is getting a new, larger engine before Christmas. The new Engine 37 will have a modern cleaner-burning engine with additional safety features but the same pumping capacity. The older engine will be turned into a reserve engine.” E-37 is one of three that SFD is replacing, he added, along with E-35 in Ballard and E-20 in Queen Anne/Interbay.

Update on West Seattle’s ‘pit’: No digging Saturday; crane assembly Monday

October 23, 2014 at 9:10 pm | In Utilities, West Seattle news | 1 Comment

Also tonight, a two-part update from King County Wastewater Treatment District on West Seattle’s own “pit,” the 60-foot-deep hole being excavated for the million-gallon combined-sewer-overflow tank across from Lowman Beach.

First, KCWTD’s Doug Marsano says excavation crews will NOT be working this Saturday after all; one more Saturday of excavation work is still expected, November 1st. But the following Monday, this will happen:

King County contractors will use the east part of the 7000 block of Beach Drive SW (between Lowman Beach Park and the project site) to assemble a crane that will be used to finish digging out the Murray CSO Control Facility tank area. The crane will be delivered and assembled on Monday, October 27 from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Neighbors and park users should expect traffic delays of up to 15 minutes on the 7000 block of Beach Drive during these hours.

To maintain local access, there will be no parking on Beach Drive S.W. between the project site and Lowman Beach Park from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Flaggers will work with drivers to ensure safe passage around the assembly area.

Further details are in the official project notice here.

Highway 99 tunnel-machine rescue pit digging on hold after 3 days

October 23, 2014 at 6:47 pm | In Alaskan Way Viaduct, Transportation, West Seattle news | 37 Comments


As reported here just three days ago, WSDOT announced digging had begun for the pit going down 120 feet to rescue the Highway 99 tunnel-machine cutter head. Tonight, WSDOT has announced the digging is on hold. Here’s the entire update:

On Oct. 23, WSDOT archaeologists monitoring the access pit excavation observed a deposit containing shell material that requires further evaluation and may indicate the presence of cultural materials. No artifacts or human remains were found. WSDOT has very strict protocols when archeological material is discovered and those protocols were followed today. Excavation activities in the access pit have stopped and we are now coordinating with the Federal Highway Administration and tribal governments, and the Washington State Department of Archeology and Historic Preservation to determine the next steps. As more information is available to share with the public, we will pass it along.

The image above is a screengrab from the project’s monitoring cameras, which are online “live” here.

West Seattle development: Views of the old and the new

October 23, 2014 at 6:33 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 12 Comments

Two scenes from the Junction/Triangle area:

FAUNTLEROY/EDMUNDS: Most of the future site of the mixed-use Whittaker is now cleared; just the last section on the southeast corner, the old Chevrolet showroom and service area to the west, remains (our photo was taken from Fauntleroy, looking southwest). A few blocks west:

4730 CALIFORNIA: Michael shared that photo showing that the facade of the midblock mixed-use project on California between Alaska and Edmunds is finally in view. Work on this project began with demolition in June of last year.

Update: Crash at 26th/Roxbury; man hit by bus, hospitalized

October 23, 2014 at 4:47 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle traffic alerts | 7 Comments

4:47 PM: Police are blocking most if not all of the 26th/Roxbury intersection because of a crash, reported to involve a bus and pedestrian. If you need to travel in that area, find alternatives for now.

5:11 PM: Police just announced over emergency radio that they’ll be reopening Roxbury.

9:26 PM: The pedestrian is a 25-year-old man, according to SFD, who suffered a severe arm injury and was taken to Harborview Medical Center in serious condition. We don’t have police information about the crash but commenters say a Sound Transit bus hit the man.

West Seattle wind watch: ‘Special weather statement’ just issued

October 23, 2014 at 3:39 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle weather | 2 Comments

(Added 4:42 pm: Rainbow this afternoon, photographed by Julie)
3:39 PM: Weather experts (like West Seattleite @MetPatrick22) have been watching this for some days – and now the National Weather Service has issued a formal alert, in the form of a “special weather statement”: Looks like it’s going to get windy on Saturday. At this point, gusts aren’t expected past 45 mph, but they’re watching closely. Here’s the full text of the alert.

4:11 PM: Again, that’s just for the weekend, but things are a little crazy right now – burst of hail followed by major downpour.

PHOTOS: Partial solar eclipse, seen during West Seattle sunbreaks

October 23, 2014 at 2:15 pm | In Skies Over West Seattle, West Seattle news | 5 Comments

All week long, just in case of sunbreaks or clear skies, Alice Enevoldsen has been hosting events at local libraries, leading up to today’s partial eclipse of the sun. Right now, she’s at High Point Branch Library for a viewing party, and yes, as the photos tweeted by librarian Nathalie Wargo show, some of it’s been seen!

You have to look through a safe viewer – looking directly at the sun will harm your eyes – but they’ll have something for you to use, if you didn’t make or don’t otherwise have your own. As laid out in Alice’s most recent edition of Skies Over West Seattle here on WSB, the eclipse peaks at 3 pm with the moon’s shadow covering slightly more than half the sun. HP Library, by the way, is at 35th/Raymond, and Alice promised that even if viewing was or became impossible, she’ll have an astronomy talk inside.

3 PM UPDATE: Kevin Freitas has been tweeting while the eclipse is in view:

The sun has continued to come and go. From here, the eclipse will wane, still partly visible for another hour or so.

ADDED 3:22 PM: Back to rain/sun mix. More eclipse photos:

(Copyright 2014, Jason Gift Enevoldsen)
ADDED 6:39 PM: We stopped by Alice’s viewing event for a pic of our own (that’s her in red):

And one more photo, from Trileigh Tucker:

That’s Rob Duisberg holding binoculars projecting the eclipse view.

Also closed today: Roxhill Park ‘castle’ play structure; community-crafted turret to be removed for reinforcement

October 23, 2014 at 12:46 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle parks | 12 Comments

12:46 PM: Thanks to the person who texted us that photo of the suddenly fenced-off play structure at Roxhill Park and asked what was going on. We’re still investigating, but according to one round of e-mail forwarded to us, there is a safety concern with the custom-created metal “turret” on the community-built castle structure, which might be removed as a result, or moved. We’re working to find out more, but in the short run, please note for starters that the play structure – opened a year and a half ago after an extensive community funding/building project – is closed off.

1:12 PM UPDATE: Even the group that reported the safety problem didn’t get notice that the play area would suddenly be shut down, according to this e-mail just received from Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council chair Amanda Kay Helmick:

On October 8th, the WWRHAH Community Council wrote an email to Carol Baker at Parks mentioning the way the turret was leaning substantially to the left, and we were concerned that although, it has always leaned, it looked worse. We let her know that we are dead set on keeping the turret if indeed it needed to come down – and re-purpose it elsewhere at the playground.

Carol Baker emailed back on the 17th saying that “We had our parks engineer, architect and trades staff out earlier this week. They are developing plans but it will be repaired on site. Won’t know timeline until plans are finished but will let you know when I do.”

WWRHAH received confirmation today from Carol that “Initial plan was as I said below (above). However, there are people in the department who are concerned that the safest approach will be to temporarily remove the head. When it comes to safety we must error on the side of caution. ” Parks management has been reminded how important this special artwork is to the community who supported the play area rebuild. I will let you know when I know more.”

We are dismayed that the Community was not informed that the work would be taking place immediately, and the park closed. We have a call into Parks now to get a timeline and confirmation that the turret will be saved and re-purposed.

1:57 PM UPDATE: Parks spokesperson Joelle Hammerstad answered our inquiry:

The turret over the play structure is an art project that is filled with reflective tiles that are quite heavy. A recent inspection has our structural engineer concerned that the tiles may be too heavy for the Trex structure onto which they have been attached.

Out of an abundance of caution, we closed the structure — for the moment. We’re going to bring in a truck to pluck the turret off the top of the structure and re-open the play equipment to kids.

We’ll take the turret back to our Westbridge maintenance facility (located in West Seattle) to strengthen it before taking it back and replacing it.

We don’t know when that truck will be out, but it will be ASAP.

Our preference would have been to notify the community before the fences went up, but we felt it was important to act quickly.

2:48 PM: Update from Hammerstad via Twitter – Parks will be putting up explanatory signs at the play area this afternoon. Turret removal is not likely before tomorrow.

West Seattle (Athletic) Club closed today, tomorrow, with change reported to be in the works

October 23, 2014 at 12:05 pm | In West Seattle businesses, West Seattle news | 33 Comments

Apparently not all West Seattle (Athletic) Club members received the e-mail announcement that the fitness center at 2629 SW Andover is closed today and tomorrow, as the court-ordered deadline for its owner to pay $1.1 million nears. E-mail from several members this morning indicated the closure has indeed happened, without explanation (and we just went over to photograph the sign on the door). We added the announcement last night to our most recent update (read it here).

The closure so far seems to match the scenario laid out in a club employee’s e-mail to some of its fitness instructors; that e-mail suggested the club would reopen under new management/ownership. As first reported here in early October – and reiterated by property owner John Pietromonaco when we spoke with him Tuesday – this Friday is the deadline for owner Sam Adams to pay $1.1 million, mostly back rent, or face eviction. Pietromonaco told us that if Adams failed to do that, he had a plan to keep the club running. If any new information on the club’s future becomes available today, we’ll add to this story.

West Seattle Thursday: Haunted house; open house; ‘Dogfight’ debut; firefighter storytime …

October 23, 2014 at 10:30 am | In West Seattle news, WS miscellaneous | No Comments

Five highlights today from the WSB West Seattle Event Calendar and our WS Halloween Guide:

FIREFIGHTER STORY TIME: 11:30 am at High Point Branch Library, preschoolers learn a lesson about fire safety, and who better to teach it than Seattle Fire Department firefighters. (35th/Raymond)

SOLAR ECLIPSE VIEWING PARTY – OR ASTRONOMY PRESENTATION: 1:15-3 pm, Alice Enevoldsen of Alice’s Astro Info and Skies Over West Seattle fame will be at High Point Branch Library for a solar-eclipse-viewing party, just in case there’s a break in the weather; if the eclipse isn’t visible, she’ll give an astronomy presentation, so come to the library anyway! (35th/Raymond)

HAUNTED HOUSE AND FALL FESTIVAL: First big event from the WSB West Seattle Halloween Guide – 6 pm, fall festival and haunted house at High Point Community Center. (6920 34th SW)

SEATTLE LUTHERAN HIGH SCHOOL OPEN HOUSE: School-open-house season continues with tonight’s 7-8:30 pm open house inviting families to West Seattle’s only independent high school. Details in our calendar listing. (41st/Genesee)

OPENING NIGHT FOR ‘DOGFIGHT’: 7:30 pm at ArtsWest (WSB sponsor), it’s the first performance of the musical “Dogfight,” described as “the romantic and heartbreaking story of three young marines in 1963 on the eve of the deployment to the small but growing conflict in Vietnam.” Directed by AW’s new artistic director Mathew Wright. (4711 California SW)

School fundraising season: Arbor Heights Elementary’s ‘Circle of Friends’

October 23, 2014 at 10:15 am | In How to help, West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | No Comments

Some have auctions, some have walk-a-thons, some have “direct drives” – whichever the method, it’s the time of year when PTAs ask for the support of their communities (and school funding has certainly been in the news lately). From Arbor Heights Elementary:

Join the Circle of Friends! The Arbor Heights Elementary PTA invites any and all members of the West Seattle community to Join the Circle of Friends by participating in our direct fundraising drive October 13-31st! 100% of funds raised by the PTA go to support programs that enrich the educational experience of students at Arbor Heights! The Arbor Heights PTA funds its $74,000 annual budget (which, shockingly, is bigger than our school’s operating budget provided by the State!) through various charitable giving events (membership drive, direct drive, annual auction, etc.).

This year PTA priorities (voted on by the membership) include: Young Authors Day, 5th Grade Camp, Instrumental Music, Kindergarten Aides, Playground Equipment, Academic Enrichment and Field Trips, Safety Patrol, Library, Global Reading Challenge, Sports Equipment, and Teacher Requests for innovative learning.

Visit arborheightses.seattleschools.org to learn more, download a donation
form, donate online, or set up a recurring donation! Thank you!

If you have a school fundraiser under way or coming up and want to invite the community to be part of it, please make sure we know about it – thanks!

TRAFFIC/TRANSIT TODAY: Thursday on the move

October 23, 2014 at 6:16 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle traffic alerts | No Comments

(WS bridge and Highway 99 views; more cams on the WSB Traffic page)
The second bridge camera is back, so we have four views once again in our daily traffic watch. Meantime, two reminders:

SUNDAY – HARVEST FESTIVAL: Junction streets are closed and buses are on reroute for the 10 am-2 pm festival (and the setup/breakdown time before/after). Details in our most-recent preview.

MONDAY – WATER TAXI SCHEDULE CHANGE: The 7-day-a-week, all-day West Seattle Water Taxi schedule ends Sunday; next Monday, the 5-day fall/winter schedule begins – preview it here.

1,065 crashes in 10 years on 3 miles of ‘I-35.’ Safety project begins, to create a ‘more forgiving’ street

October 23, 2014 at 3:45 am | In Safety, Transportation, West Seattle news | 59 Comments

By Tracy Record & Patrick Sand
West Seattle Blog co-publishers

(September 2006 reader photo, memorial at 35th/Graham)
Susanne Scaringi

Oswald Clement

Gregory Hampel

Andrew Seffernick

James St. Clair

Their names weren’t all spoken during Wednesday night’s launch meeting for the 35th SW Road Corridor Safety Project. But the knowledge that five crashes on “I-35″ had ended their lives – five deaths in seven years – hung heavy.

“There are so many reasons we want to eliminate these serious crashes,” said SDOT‘s Jim Curtin, opening the first “issue identification” meeting for the project, which he is managing. “… We want to create a street that’s more forgiving, so when people do make mistakes, the consequences aren’t so tragic.”

What began Wednesday night – 8 months after it was promised – is intended to result in changes and improvements within a year, along the three miles of 35th between Avalon and Roxbury – three miles that have seen 1,065 crashes in the past 10 years, Curtin said.

(May 2013 crash at 35th/Roxbury: WSB photo by Christopher Boffoli)
Distraction is blamed for about a third of the crashes. After that: Speeding, impairment, failure to grant right-of-way. Despite the absence of a major safety campaign, there has been progress.

willowspeed.jpg

(October 2008 speed sign at 35th/Willow, where recent studies showed the highest average speed)
The speed limit along the project area is 35 mph; studies from the past year show that speeds have “come down considerably since 2007,” Curtin said, but they are still over the limit. 85 percent of the traffic is going almost 41 mph at SW Willow, 38.5 mph at SW Brandon, 36.5 mph at SW Roxbury. At those speeds, “we’re rolling the dice .. pedestrians do not typically do well” if hit at those rates of speed.

Backing up: He began with a presentation; not recommendations or suggestions, but instead, the project’s goals and facts. We recorded those first 46 minutes on video, including some Q/A:

Below, you’ll see the slide deck Curtin walked through during that opening presentation:

(PDF version is here.)

Curtin stressed that 35th is “a neighborhood” – 488 parcels along the three-mile stretch in the project zone, 73 percent of them single-family homes, 11 percent apartments/condos/townhouses – so when there are crashes, they are virtually (and sometimes literally) “in people’s front yards”:

(January 2010 crash at 35th/Cloverdale – WSB reader photo by Bruce)
While he stressed repeatedly that “tonight, we’re not jumping into solutions at all,” it was clear that some are eager, even ravenous, for solutions. One man who said he’s had two cars “totaled, absolutely totaled” decried people who drive on 35th SW “as if it were the Indianapolis 500,” particularly in the years since it became the last north-south two-lanes-each-way road through the heart of West Seattle.

(Seen April 2010 at 35th/Webster, shared by MAS)
He continued, “If you put 35th on a road diet, you won’t need more people to enforce (the speed limit).” (He was challenged loudly by other attendees and Curtin had to put the brakes on what almost accelerated into a shout-down.)

The speed van and radar trailers are among the measures implemented since 2007 that have brought speeds down somewhat, “but there is still room for improvement,” Curtin declared. (Our archives include this long list of changes made as of a 2008 discussion (note that a road-diet study was mentioned then, six years ago).

Police enforcement has brought some progress over the years.

(WSB photo: April 2011 emphasis patrol on 35th)
Southwest Precinct commander Capt. Steve Wilske told attendees about an enforcement period in which SPD made contact with 200 drivers over four months, with 70 pulled over for “talking on a cell phone while driving,” 40 for speeding, and the other 90 for “various violations” (including other forms of distracted driving). He said they might be back on 35th, and they are hoping to “do the same thing … in different areas.” The overtime is covered by grants they seek.

In Q/A, Curtin and Wilske were asked how road design might affect the stated major causes of crashes, distraction and impairment. “The way we design our streets have a huge impact on how people behave on our streets,” Curtin replied. “We have great big wide streets,” and, for example, that encourages people to speed, he says. “That’s why in Seattle our neighborhood streets are designed to be 25 feet wide with parking on both sides,” very little room to speed.

One resident of 35th mentioned that other drivers “don’t like their momentum broken” by, for example, his necessary turns into his own driveway, or buses slowing/stopping to pick up people. He suggested it would be worse “with three lanes” – referring to widespread suspicion that a “road diet” (rechannelization) is already decided. “Nobody’s said anything about three lanes at this point,” said Curtin, reiterating that this is the discussion stage, not the design stage.

But the topic came up again and again, and Curtin mentioned something he’s said before – that while Seattle has “done more than 30 road diets,” usually preceded by “gloom and doom,” the latter does not come to pass. (Fauntleroy Way SW, rechannelized in 2009, is a frequent example.)

Another point he made: While every intersection is a legal crosswalk – and you’re required to stop – SDOT won’t mark them “on roads like 35th” unless there is a signal. If they “change things significantly on 35th,” that would allow more marked crossings, he noted.

Was there ever a traffic change that didn’t work out? Curtin was asked. He brought up California SW, “which we put on a road diet twice, in 1970s and 1990s,” and while, he said, it worked well along most of the stretch, it did not work in the heart of The Junction, so they reversed it. “And that’s the beauty of a road diet – it’s just paint,” so if it doesn’t work out, the road can be repainted.

That led to a question about the state of SW Alaska, westward from 35th. Curtin pointed out its status as a bus route – “every time a RapidRide bus passes you, that’s hundreds of people who would (otherwise) be in cars” – as some solace for traffic concerns.

After those 46 minutes of presentation plus Q/A, breakout conversations were offered for topics including a proposed neighborhood greenway on 34th SW, which will be studied, Curtin said, next year – and what Curtin acknowledged might be “difficult choices” involving hot topics such as parking and channelization.

The 40-plus people in attendance were invited to offer their thoughts at three tables – broken geographically into the north, central, and south sections of 35th. Notes were written on huge sheets of paper mapping section of I-35.

WHAT’S NEXT: Curtin couldn’t stress enough that this is the input phase – offer your comments and concerns now, before something is designed/proposed. Next big chance to do that is meeting #2, same format as this one, though Curtin promised “tweaks”: 3:30 pm next Tuesday (October 28th), 3:30-5 pm at Southwest Branch Library, which, unlike Wednesday night’s venue, is on 35th (at SW Henderson) … a spot where we’ve covered a few crashes in the past year alone, including this one exactly one year ago:

(WSB photo: October 2013 crash at 35th/Henderson)
In February of next year, SDOT expects to unveil and circulate “design alternatives,” with a decision to be made in spring. In the meantime, if you have something to say, say it, urges Curtin: “If anyone feels they’re not being heard at these meetings, send me an e-mail at any time (jim.curtin@seattle.gov) … I’d be happy to come out and walk the corridor with you … I’d be happy to meet with you whenever and wherever.”

What would YOU do to make 35th SW safer? Come tell SDOT Tuesday – or via the contact options here.

West Seattle Crime Watch: ‘Wagner Prowler’; phone robbery; road rage

October 22, 2014 at 10:38 pm | In Crime, West Seattle news | 7 Comments

Three West Seattle Crime Watch reports tonight. First one is a reader report:

Saturday night our elderly neighbor had a prowler down on Beach Drive. The man, described as a white male, was in her backyard around 2 am. Her house guest was awakened by his VERY distinctive ring tone “The Charge of the Valkyries” ! I thought that was distinctive enough that someone may be able to identify the Wagner Prowler. It appears that he was trying to gain access to a neighbor’s yard..but took off when his cell phone went off.

We don’t have the block number. But keep an … ear out.

Next – two from the police-report files: Another smartphone stolen, and an odd cross-peninsula case of “road rage”:

Click to read the rest of West Seattle Crime Watch: ‘Wagner Prowler’; phone robbery; road rage…

West Seattle scene: Maybe the sun will come out tomorrow

October 22, 2014 at 9:18 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle weather | 1 Comment

Sunbreaks can strike at the most surprising times. So in case somehow the partial solar eclipse tomorrow afternoon becomes visible, you want to be prepared. For the past three days, Alice Enevoldsen of Alice’s Astro Info and Skies Over West Seattle fame has helped West Seattleites do just that, with pre-eclipse events at local Seattle Public Library branches. This afternoon, Alice was at Delridge Library coaching prospective eclipse-watchers through the creation of pinhole viewers (so you can experience the eclipse without damaging your eyes by looking at the sun). The photo was shared by the family of Raina (at center, with Alice at left and Chrissy the librarian at right). But even if the sun doesn’t make it through the clouds here, you’ll be able to check out the eclipse through webcasts.

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