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UPDATE: Evacuation over after natural-gas leak in The Triangle

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(WSB photos)

12:49 PM: Thanks for the tips – a natural-gas leak in The Triangle is reported to have led to the evacuation of the West Seattle YMCA (WSB sponsor) – early word is that it’s not believed to be at the Y itself, but Seattle Fire is at the scene and making sure everybody’s safe. We’re en route and will have an update.
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12:58 PM: Fire and police vehicles are blocking eastbound Avalon just west of 35th, so avoid the area.

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1:11 PM: Seattle Fire is leaving. They tell us they’ve done some safety checks, and Puget Sound Energy is on the scene, and it’s been determined it’s safe for those evacuated to go back in. Per comments, Alki Lumber was among those evacuated, and firefighters tell us the Luna construction site was too – we saw hard-hat workers standing on the north side of Avalon. Josh Sutton from the Y says it’s reopening at 1:30 pm.

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Christmas Eve crashes: Car through fence in Highland Park; Fauntleroy & Oregon collision

ORIGINAL REPORT, 10:42 PM: An unpleasant Christmas Eve surprise for a Highland Park household – a driver crashed through their fence in the 8600 block of 20th SW and partway down the embankment into their yard. Our photo shows the car and the driver of the tow truck that pulled it up the embankment shortly after we arrived. No injuries reported; the car’s driver was being evaluated for possible DUI.

ANOTHER CRASH, 10:55 PM: Now another crash, with traffic effects: Southbound Fauntleroy Way is blocked at Oregon because of a multi-car crash. Injuries are reported.

11:53 PM: That crash cleared shortly after we arrived in the area. No major injuries. SFD crews at the scene did have to deal with a person reported to be “in crisis” – per the scanner, a “nude man” approached firefighters, who quickly found a blanket for him. It’s not clear whether he had anything to do with the crash.

FOLLOWUP: Two bidders for West Seattle’s years-delayed Fire Station 32 rebuild

(From Fire Station 32 “schematic design” packet dated August 2013, by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson)

When the Fire Facilities and Emergency Response Levy went to Seattle voters in 2003, it included a full rebuild of West Seattle’s Fire Station 32 – projected at the time to be complete by the end of 2007. As we first reported back in October, after numerous schedule revisions and then a decision to rebid the project, construction hasn’t even started yet, though the units and crews were moved out of the original station more than 10 months ago. But there;s new hope the work will get going in a few months, now that it’s received two bids as of this past Tuesday’s deadline. Howard S. Wright bid $11.6 million and MJ Takisaki bid $12.7 million. City documents say the project is budgeted at $18.6 million, with $3 million of that spent so far. Now that bids are in, we asked Julie Moore from the city’s Finance and Administrative Services Department what happens next:

The next step is for City Purchasing and Contracting Services (CPCS) to ask the apparent low bidder to submit a Supplemental Bidder Responsibility Criteria (SBRC) form. Capital Development and Construction Management (CDCM) will review the completed form. If CDCM finds the contractor meets all required criteria, it will then ask CPCS to award the contract to the bidder, starting the contract-execution process in which insurance and bonding information and all other requirements will be reviewed by CPCS before the contract can be executed. If there are no surprises during this process, we anticipate final execution of the contract could take place before the end of February.

The city already has a building permit for the new station, which will be built on the same footprint as the current one at 37th/Alaska, with work expected to take about a year. Until it’s ready, temporary FS 32 remains on the future city park site on 40th SW between SW Alaska and SW Edmunds.

P.S. Looking at the two bidders – Howard S. Wright built the Space Needle, and more recently, for SFD, Fire Station 39 in Lake City. MJ Takisaki worked on the recent upgrade of Fire Station 26 in South Park.

WEST SEATTLE BIZNOTE: Realfine Coffee now open in The Triangle

(WSB photo by Patrick Sand)
Julie Mierzwiak is thrilled to be at the helm of her own coffee shop, serving her own community, after almost a decade working as a barista for others. Six months after she announced plans for Realfine Coffee at 4480 Fauntleroy Way SW, next to Rudy’s Barbershop, the shop is open (thanks to Dan for the tip!). Julie told us she’s been planning her own shop for years – she just didn’t know where it would be, until she found this space. The remodeled space, once home to Maestro Motors (now a short distance west on Fauntleroy), is full of West Seattle connections, Julie says – West Seattle workers did the remodeling and plumbing; even the espresso machine, by Synesso, was handmade by a West Seattleite (in Georgetown). Meantime, her coffee is Herkimer, from a small-batch roaster in North Seattle; her baked goods are from Standard Bakery; there’s a case for Molly’s sandwiches/wraps on the counter; and beer is available – local, of course (including Schooner Exact, which got its start in WS). There’s also seating – two large shareable booth-type spaces on the street side, and barstools at a counter on the other side. Realfine is open 6 am-7 pm weekdays, 7 am-6 pm weekends.

SUNDAY: Veterans Day dinner with Post 160 & Auxiliary Unit 160

November 7, 2015 7:03 pm
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 |   Triangle | West Seattle news

Just a quick reminder in case you missed the first announcement and/or won’t see Sunday’s daily preview: Tomorrow night, veterans, active-duty, reserve, and National Guard members are all invited – with their families – to American Legion Post 160 and American Legion Auxiliary Unit 160‘s annual Veterans Day Italian Dinner at the Legion Hall in The Triangle. Free, no RSVPs needed – just go to 3618 SW Alaska between 5 and 7 pm tomorrow.

West Seattle food: Beloved Mexico shuts down, cites competition

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

One day after people started asking us about the disappearance of the Beloved Mexico food truck – a five-year fixture along Fauntleroy just south of Alaska, next to West Seattle Produce – we’ve found out what’s going on: It’s closed forever.

That’s what co-proprietor Christian Guerrero just told us when we reached him by phone at home in West Seattle: “We decided to shut down the doors, just yesterday. We’re really sad to shut down, but we just weren’t making enough.”

Unprompted, he cited competition, in particular, Chipotle Mexican Grill, which opened in The Junction less than two months ago (and is currently closed along with the company’s 42 other Washington and Oregon stores because of E. coli illnesses). “We don’t have the buying power of multi-million dollar companies.”

Another factor, Guerrero said: They would eventually lose their spot, since a CVS drugstore is slated to be built there, and a permanent spot for a food truck is hard to find in West Seattle.

He says they’re sad about closing and they appreciate the following they had, but financially, they had no choice. They had hoped it would someday lead to expansion into a permanent restaurant location, but that didn’t happen, and they’re not expecting to be able to open one. He and his co-proprietor brother have always had “day jobs” and that’s what they’ll be focusing on now. It’s been five years since Beloved Mexico opened – originally on the other side of Fauntleroy, as was WS Produce, on the site where The Whittaker is now being built; both moved across the street a year later.

Toward the end of our conversation, Guerrero told us he hopes West Seattleites will step up their support for the remaining small independent businesses – “to keep the flavor of West Seattle alive.”

Veterans Day invitation: Dinner with American Legion Post 160 and Auxiliary Unit 160

October 26, 2015 8:12 pm
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 |   Holidays | Triangle | West Seattle news

(WSB photo from 2014 dinner)
One more look ahead to Veterans Day: Once again this year, West Seattle’s American Legion Post 160 and American Legion Auxiliary Unit 160 invite “all active duty, reserve, national guard, military veterans and their families” to the annual Veterans Day Italian Dinner at the Legion Hall in The Triangle, 3618 SW Alaska. Free, no RSVPs needed – just stop by between 5 and 7 pm on Sunday, November 8th.

NEXT WEEKEND: This year’s West Seattle Ski & Snowboard Swap

October 17, 2015 5:19 pm
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 |   Triangle | West Seattle news | WS & Sports

(WSB file photo)
When will the mountains get snow? Don’t know. When will West Seattleites gather for the annual Community Ski and Snowboard Swap, presented by Mountain to Sound Outfitters? That, we DO know: Next weekend. To be specific, gear dropoff 10 am-6 pm Friday (October 23rd), swap 10 am-6 pm Saturday (October 24th) and 10 am-4 pm Sunday (October 25th):

This community ski swap is a great way to buy or sell your used equipment and get amazing deals on new gear. There will be a great selection of skis, snowboards, boots, clothing, camping gear, accessories, and more!

As usual, it’s happening at the VFW Hall across the street from M2SO, 3601 SW Alaska in The Triangle.

Why new Fire Station 32 isn’t under construction yet – more than a half-year after old one was vacated, 9 years behind original levy schedule

(From Fire Station 32 “schematic design” packet dated August 2013, by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

The rebuild of West Seattle’s Fire Station 32 is now running nine years behind the schedule that was originally projected when voters passed the levy to fund it and a tall stack of other projects.

We’ve learned that its construction is now not expected to start until early next year – which will be about a year after its crews were moved to interim locations.

When the station’s Engine 32 and Ladder 11 moved to a temporary site early this year, demolition of the original station was supposedly imminent. But more than half a year has passed, with no sign of work. After a reader e-mailed to ask what was going on, so we started looking into it.

What we’ve learned is that it’s going out to bid again – and now it appears that Station 32’s crews will have been out of the old location a full year by the time the teardown begins, meaning they’ll be in temporary quarters for about two years. (E-32 and L-11 are now in temporary structures on city-owned land that’s set for a future park, along 40th SW between Alaska and Edmunds, while Medic 32 is currently based at Station 37 in Sunrise Heights.)

The Station 32 rebuild was part of the $167 million Fire Levy approved by voters in 2003. It was a nine-year levy, so property owners aren’t paying it any more. But the presentation given to the City Council that year promised the city would “implement the program over the shortest possible time period to minimize the risks of inflation.” Page 19, the program schedule, shows the Station 32 project as expected to be complete by the end of 2007:

And now, as the end of 2015 approaches, this project hasn’t even started construction yet.

Design started three years ago, as noted on the periodic status/schedule reports posted on the Fire Levy website. (The most recent status/schedule report, however, posted less than a month ago, shows the site as under construction, which it is not.)

Fire Levy projects are now managed by the city’s Finance and Administrative Services department. When we checked with FAS last winter, a spokesperson told us (as reported here) demolition and construction was expected to start by late February – of this year.

Responding to our latest inquiry, FAS spokesperson Cyndi Wilder tells us the project has to go out to bid again:

Initially, this project was bid out through an alternative contract method called general contractor/construction manager (GC/CM), which allowed the general contractor to assist in the design process through a pre-construction services contract. The GC/CM process, following design, allows the City the option to negotiate with a selected construction firm to determine an appropriate construction cost.

The City and the contractor were unable to agree upon a negotiated cost that fits within the City budget. This week, the City is in the process of cancelling the pre-construction contract and will quickly move to a traditional bidding process for construction, where the entire construction contract will be awarded to the lowest responsive and responsible bidder. We anticipate beginning demolition on the old Fire Station 32 facility in the first quarter of 2016.

According to the project’s city webpage, the GC/CM contract had been awarded to BNBuilders (which has its own page for the project here).

We don’t know what if anything the schedule changes have cost the city. The project is budgeted at $18.6 million, according to the latest online financial report; the actual construction cost was cited at $10.6 million in various places including this solicitation for subcontractors, under the BN Builders contract. The new FS 32 was designed by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson (BCJ), whose designs were shown to the community at this 2014 open house.

The Fire Levy has an Oversight Committee that still meets periodically, with its next meeting scheduled for December 15th. Its meeting minutes are online, but recent editions have few details other than who was in attendance and the number of projects in progress. Earlier, more detailed sets of minutes shine some light on the overall delay, first indicating that some early challenges included big project-cost inflation in the first few years after the levy’s passage, with some of the cost increases attributed to factors such as China buying much of the world’s steel and estimates having been based on “suburban” fire stations rather than “urban.” The earliest mention we found of FS 32 in meeting minutes was November 2007, when its architect was about to be announced; BCJ was described as being in “pre-design” as of the July 2008 meeting minutes. At the November 2008 meeting, several postponements were announced, and at that time, the committee was told that Station 32 would be done in 2011. The next year, the project was listed as “being deferred” due to the shortfall in Real Estate Excise Tax received by the city. Later in 2009, meeting minutes said the project would start in 2010; toward the end of that year, a new delay – a request to search for a different site. The next mention of a new schedule came in 2011 – when it was declared to be starting in 2012. Then suddenly the February 2012 minutes say FS 32 would be complete “after 2015.” Every set of minutes from that year says the same thing, and then the specific mentions cease.

P.S. West Seattle’s Station 37, mentioned above as interim home to one of FS 32’s units, was a levy project too – shown on that original 2003 schedule as expected to be finished by the end of 2007, opened three years after that. Other local levy projects include upgrades at Station 36 (North Delridge), Station 11 (Highland Park), and Station 29 (Admiral); the first two are complete, the third still under way (and, like FS 32, listed on that City Council pre-levy presentation as projected for completion by 2008).

More service: The Mission Continues & friends, @ American Legion and VFW posts in The Triangle

In the West Seattle Triangle, the headquarters of two organizations for veterans and active-duty servicemembers are almost directly across SW Alaska from each other: American Legion Post 160 (home of the West Seattle Veterans’ Center) and VFW Post 2713. On Saturday, volunteers of all ages gave both a boost with repairs and renovations via The Mission Continues.

TMC is an organization helping veterans readjust via new “missions” – as the slogan on the T-shirts says, “Reporting For Duty In Your Community.”

Both buildings needed lots of help – the indoor painting you see is at the VFW, which also had tangles of weeds to clean up.

Debris, trimmings, and old junk from both locations filled this trunk:

Volunteers from companies including Starbucks, Nordstrom, and Safeway joined in, we’re told. Also in the midst of it all, below: Kyle Geraghty from Post 160, with daughter Ana, and Joshua Arntson, national resource specialist from The Mission Continues:

Here’s how to get involved with TMC’s Seattle 1st Service Platoon.

West Seattle YMCA announces it’s downsizing the expansion plan

Almost exactly one year after announcing an expansion plan for its HQ in The Triangle, the West Seattle YMCA (WSB sponsor) has a major update today: Construction costs have gone up, so the plan’s size has to go down. From the announcement:

…With rising construction costs and after careful consideration of fundraising efforts thus far, the original design will be modified with a focus on delivering the expanded Y in 2016.

Factors impacting the revised scope include:

• A booming Seattle construction market that has boosted the original project design cost to an estimated $12 million (including underground parking).

• $3.5 million has been raised to date from 240 generous local donors, putting the West Seattle YMCA on track to raise $4 million. The YMCA of Greater Seattle is matching this amount dollar for dollar, currently allowing for a project that costs approximately $8 million.

• Even with our continued plans to raise funds for the expanding West Seattle YMCA, board and staff leadership does not see a timely pathway to $12 million in funding.

Leadership staff and volunteers are working closely with donors and the project team to provide alternate plans that better fit the YMCA’s financial capacity. “We’re working with the project architect, Miller Hayashi, to keep focused on community need as we revise our expansion plans.” said Dave Kehle, Chair of the Building Committee.

Key components of the revised project will include:

• Expanded Fitness Space
• Family Programs Wing
• Family Changing Rooms
• Community Meeting Room with Healthy Eating Kitchen

The community will have an opportunity to view these plans at meetings in October. Dates for the meetings and updated information will be shared on OurNewY.org.

Fundraising continues in earnest with every dollar making a difference. New donors pledging $1,500 or more can double their impact by having their gift matched dollar for dollar by the Nucor-Pigott Community Challenge. …

The West Seattle YMCA will serve thousands more people annually with the expanded facility. The building will remain open during construction, with improvements happening in phases and completion expected in 2016.

Read the full announcement here. Full details of the revised plan haven’t been worked out yet, so there are no specific drawings or details yet.

Also happening today: Need your vehicle washed?

August 15, 2015 11:50 am
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 |   Gatewood | How to help | Triangle | West Seattle news

The sun’s out and two vehicle-wash fundraisers happening right now in West Seattle, both by donation:

WEST SEATTLE HIGH SCHOOL CHEERLEADERS: Until 3 pm, WSHS cheerleaders are washing vehicles at Les Schwab, Fauntleroy/Alaska (map).

TRINITY WEST SEATTLE YOUTH: Also until 3 pm, a fundraising vehicle wash is under way to send Trinity and Skate Church youth to camp. It’s at the church, 7551 35th SW (map).

HAPPENING NOW: Pop-up art show/sale in The Triangle

August 2, 2015 11:36 am
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 |   Triangle | West Seattle news | WS culture/arts

Thanks to Sheila Lengle for the photo – she’s one of several local artists having a pop-up art show/sale right now at the southeast corner of Fauntleroy/Alaska (Les Schwab lot) in The Triangle. They’ll be there until 4 pm. (Datapoint: Sheila and Gretchen Flickinger, another of the participating artists – who also just messaged us about the sale – are both past winners of the West Seattle Garden Tour poster contest!)

HAPPENING NOW: Party in The Triangle for Rudy’s grand opening

May 8, 2015 7:29 pm
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 |   Fun stuff to do | Triangle | West Seattle news

It’s an indoor-outdoor party at Rudy’s Barbershop (WSB sponsor) in The Triangle right now – above, DJ King Midas is spinning at the grand-opening party; below, the Tasty Vibes food truck is out front with eats:

Even indoors, the garage doors are up as the stylists do their thing:

More details in the party preview published yesterday – it’s on until 10 tonight, at 4480 Fauntleroy Way SW, with The Wimps due to start playing around 8.

HAPPENING NOW: Big turnout @ West Seattle Co-op Preschools’ big benefit sale

The place to go if you’re looking for kid stuff today – the West Seattle Co-op Preschools‘ benefit consignment sale, raising money for the schools’ scholarship fund. If you haven’t already been, you have until 1 pm, at the VFW Hall (3601 SW Alaska), to find clothes, toys, and more, big and small:

Find out more about the Co-op Preschools program, which serves kids from infancy through kindergarten, by going here.

HAPPENING NOW: Healthy Kids Day @ West Seattle YMCA

The West Seattle YMCA (WSB sponsor) is looking to its future, with the upcoming expansion, so it’s no surprise we found an “astronaut” there as Healthy Kids Day got going this morning. Even the dunk tank has gone high tech:

That’s Josh Sutton from the Y, who’s wearing a GoPro camera to capture the dunk-tank action this time around. Healthy Kids Day is on for another hour, until 1 pm, and along with a long list of free, fun activities, you can meet some local business folks like the West Seattle School of Rock (also a WSB sponsor):

The Y’s at 36th SW and SW Snoqualmie in The Triangle.

TOMORROW: West Seattle Co-op Preschools’ kid-stuff sale

It’s the season for sales! Early reminder about a big one on Saturday in The Triangle:

Tomorrow the West Seattle Co-op Preschool system will be hosting a spring/summer kids’ consignment sale on April 25 from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. at the West Seattle VFW Hall, 3601 SW Alaska St., to help fund scholarships for families in need.

This sale will be a great way for families to purchase gently used baby/kids gear, spring/summer clothing, toys and books for terrific prices. Currently, 4,529 items are registered for consignment for a total value of $19,732! It’s going to be a sale you won’t want to miss! All proceeds from the sale benefit the scholarship program, helping local needy families send their children to preschool.

More info on the official sale website, and sneak peeks on its Facebook page.

Reel Paddling Film Festival: West Seattle screening Friday night

April 22, 2015 12:10 pm
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 |   Seen at sea | Triangle | West Seattle news

Right in time for Earth Day week, you have the chance to enjoy a film festival celebrating the beauty of our world’s waterways and the joy of exploring them. Mountain To Sound Outfitters is hosting a tour stop of the Reel Paddling Film Festival, 7 pm Friday (April 24th). The screening venue is just steps from M2SO’s shop in The Triangle, at Pershing Hall (inside the West Seattle Veterans’ Center/American Legion Post 160 building at 37th/Alaska). We just checked with M2SO proprietor Greg Whittaker and he says tickets are still available – buy online or at the door.

West Seattle restaurants: Health inspectors close KFC – temporarily

2:17 PM: Just in via the King County Health Department:

KFC #332 located at 3501 SW Avalon Way, Seattle 98126 was closed by a Public Health food inspector on April 20, 2014 at 3:30 pm due to the imminent health hazard of sewage backup into the facility. The inspector will reopen the establishment after all issues have been resolved.

Sometimes that happens quickly, so we’ll be going over to check soon to see if they’re still closed.

2:34 PM: The restaurant is open for business. We’re trying to see if we can find someone to confirm that the problem announced by the Health Department is fixed. (Added: The KCPH webpage now says they approved the business for reopening at 11 am … hours before this alert was sent.)

Fauntleroy Boulevard update: Design at 60%, with ‘changes to meet specific business-access needs’

SDOT announced today that the ‘Fauntleroy Boulevard’ project proposed for Fauntleroy Way between 35th and Alaska is at 60 percent design, but still isn’t scheduled for construction until and unless funding is found, so there’s no chance work would start any sooner than fall 2016. Here’s the official update:

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is continuing design work for the Fauntleroy Boulevard Project, an improvement project along Fauntleroy Way SW between SW Alaska Street and 35th Avenue SW.

We recently reached the 60% design stage, and we anticipate completing project design work in spring 2015. The project is not currently funded for construction. In order to advance the project into construction, the Seattle City Council would need to allocate construction funding. If construction funding is secured, the earliest construction would begin is fall 2016.

We have been meeting one-on-one with area business and property owners and members of community organizations since early design work began in the summer of 2014. The 60% design reflects changes to meet specific business access needs raised during the outreach process.

We compared the cross-section above with the one that was circulated when the project was at 30 percent design three months ago – no major differences that we can see. We have a followup question out asking for elaboration on the “changes” SDOT says it made, and will add whatever we find out.

Weekend transit/traffic alert: Tower-crane arrival at 4435 35th SW

(WSB photo, added Thursday)
2:04 PM: If you ride Metro, you might have seen this just-sent advisory, warning that southbound C Line, 21, and 50 buses will be routed off 35th SW between Avalon and Alaska this weekend between 5:30 am Saturday (December 13th) and noon Sunday (December 14th). We just confirmed that southbound 35th will be blocked in the area because of the tower-crane installation for Trinsic Residential‘s 159-apartment mixed-use development at 4435 35th SW (south of KFC). Northbound traffic on 35th will NOT be affected, according to the alert, but whether you bus, drive, bike, or walk, you’ll want to avoid southbound 35th in The Triangle until the installation is over. (We’ll check on it as the weekend goes.)

3:25 PM UPDATE: Metro has updated its advisory to say this will affect BOTH directions. And Trinsic says its expected hours of work will actually be 7 am-5 pm *both* days.

West Seattle weekend scene: American Legion Post 160’s Veterans Day ‘thank you’ dinner

The doors at American Legion Post 160 in The Triangle were open for three hours tonight for those who have served or are serving to come enjoy a free “thank you” dinner, as Veterans Day approaches. In our photo above are Post 160 Commander Keith Hughes and Linda Cox. Dinner was an Italian menu again this year:

Post 160 has one more invitation: Everyone who has served in the U.S. armed forces, or is serving now, is welcome to be a member. The post (3618 SW Alaska) has a general meeting every second Wednesday, 6 pm, which means the next one is coming up in just three days, on November 12th. Questions? E-mail wslegion160@gmail.com or call 206-932-9696.

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