News blog for Seattle's Fremont neighborhood


Entries from September 2010

These maps were made for walking

September 22nd, 2010 by master

I took a walk today from my house to Green Lake and back to revel in the last day of summer. It was glorious out. Perfect temperature, not too fall cool and not summer hot hot. Only taking one short break to kick out the rocks in my shoes, it took about 90 minutes.

Using a new pedestrian-centric map the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) has created that conveniently shows the number of minutes of different street segments, I added up what their estimated time would be for the approximate same route and it came out to 72 minutes.

Not so bad, considering these estimates don’t take into account the steepness of the street or an individual’s physical condition. There is going to be some variation, so the numbers should be taken as rough estimates.

A zoom-in on the Fremont part of the SDOT map

As Seattle residents know — and as visitors quickly pick up — city streets vary in slope from pancake flat to whoo-boy steep. Those streets are colored yellow on the map. We think it’s a little misleading not coloring at least some of Fremont Avenue North in yellow! It may be gradual, but it’s still steep, and I know for a fact it’d take me more than 13 minutes to hoof it from downtown Fremont up Fremont Ave. N. to 46th Street.

The routes on the Seattle Walking Map come from a variety of sources, including The Feet First walking advocacy organization, King County, and SDOT. Routes follow sidewalks, shoulders on quiet streets, and park trails.

This new series of maps divides Seattle into three sections: north, central, and south. Adjoining sections of the map include a limited amount of overlap, should the selected route cross from one section to another. You can print out PDF’s of all three and or the full city map here, or you can fill out a form on that page and have SDOT mail you a copy.

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Inside look at Seattle Police training methods

September 22nd, 2010 by master

In the wake of the deadly officer involved shooting of a wood carver last month, many in the community questioned the training methods of the Seattle Police Department. Today, SPD invited Fremont Universe and other media outlets to get a behind the scenes look at some new training techniques being put in place along with methods currently being used.

“We did talk about deploying more tasers– using less lethal force options,” said police spokesman Sgt. Sean Whitcomb.

Officer demonstrates taser techniques

Not all Seattle Police officers carry tasers, but one new step involves arming more officers with the devices. This year, SPD says taser use has actually dropped to an average of 7 incidents a month. They credit the decrease to more people knowing about tasers and the impact they can have on the human body.

“We talk people into custody the vast amount of the time,” said Officer Chris Myers.

Another new program that is already underway requires every member of SPD to take a racial profiling course, with the goal of changing the culture in the department. Verbal judo, the use of words insteads of hands and weapons, is also being taught along with an increased emphasis on deploying crisis intervention team officers to deal with people who may have mental or medical issues.

SPD allowed the media to try out its “shoot or don’t shoot” simulator that puts officers through different scenarios. Officers also go through tactics training in real-time mock situations. After the simulations, instructors debrief the officers to find out why they reacted the way they did.

Another reporter tries out the simulator (above)

“Training has become a significant issue,” said Deputy Chief Clark Kimerer. “Every single day we’re on the job we learn something.”

Deputy Chief Kimerer will oversee a review starting next month into the fatal shooting of wood carver John T. Williams.  Officials did not take questions on the specifics of the Williams case since it is still under investigation.  Our newspaper partner the Seattle Times reports the U.S. Justice Department is now monitoring the case.

Summary of additions to SPD training:

  1. Putting more tasers into the hands of officers
  2. Racial profiling course
  3. Verbal judo
  4. Adding more members to the crisis intervention team

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More work on Aurora Bridge this weekend

September 22nd, 2010 by master

Just when you thought WSDOT was finally done with its work on the Aurora Bridge, it turns out crews found more rivets to remove. Crews found the rivets when they began repairing corroded steel portions of the bridge at 23 fence post locations.

Photo from WSDOT

It means more lane closures and planning for traffic delays if you’re using the bridge this weekend.

  • On Saturday, Sept.25, two out of the three northbound lanes will be closed from 5:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m.
  • On Sunday, Sept. 26, two out of three northbound lanes will be closed from 5:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and again from 6 p.m. until midnight. Seahawks fans, WSDOT is giving you that window of opportunity to use all the lanes from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. to accommodate post game traffic.

There are a total of 186 additional rivets that must be removed as part of the steel repair work. The rivets are located under the bridge in tight areas where access is difficult, requiring at least two more weekends to bust them out.

WSDOT can provide you with industrial strength earplugs if all this racket is causing too many sleepless nights. Call its 24-hour noise hotline, 206-440-4099, for more information.

The work is part of a WSDOT project to install an anti-suicide fence on the outer railing of the bridge. Work began in May.

Unfortunately, there was a recent suicide from the bridge on Sept. 11. One of our readers, Ryan Healy, who lives on 34th across the street from the Lake Washington Rowing Club, and has a view directly of the bridge and water beneath it, e-mailed us to let us know.

I heard her scream and looked up in time to see her hit the water with a loud and large splash. I called 911 and I thought I saw her swimming on the surface. A pleasure boater came to her rescue and pulled her on to the boat but she was motionless. After the police and fire crews arrived and were about finished I walked down near the Lake Washington Rowing Club dock to check on her condition. I asked a fire department official if she was going to be ok. His response was simple: “No.”

This is the second suicide I’ve seen in the past 5 months.

Seattle Police confirmed there was a successful suicide from the bridge that day at about the same time as our reader mentioned, about 1:15 p.m.

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Parts of Gas Works Park to be closed starting Sept.27

September 21st, 2010 by master

UPDATE from Seattle Parks & Recreation on 9/23: “Most the parking lot will be open and available; the workers will fence off only the area where they will be working.”

Enjoy Gas Works Park while you can, because parts of it and its parking lot will be closed to the public for several weeks starting Sept. 27, as Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) continues an ongoing study of offshore sediments, remnants of the contamination left in Lake Union’s sediments by the manufactured gas plant and other industrial facilities that once operated at the site.

(There is a reason it’s called Gas Works Park! See photo below.)

From the park’s “History” section:

This 20 acre point on Lake Union was cleared in 1906 to construct a plant to manufacture gas from coal – later converted to crude oil. Import of natural gas in the 1950’s made the plant obsolete. The city acquired the site for a park in 1962. The park was opened to the public in 1975. The boiler house has been converted to a picnic shelter with tables, fire grills and an open area. The former exhauster-compressor building, now a children’s play barn, features a maze of brightly painted machinery.

The environmental testing will account for heavy equipment drilling of groundwater monitoring wells, and that is scheduled to take place weekdays during daylight hours. While it’ll be noisy at times, Puget Sound Energy’s contractor will monitor sound levels. Vehicles will be coming and going during the testing.

Visitors to the park will still have access to the snack bar and restrooms, but they will be restricted from areas where drilling activities are taking place and areas where equipment is stored.

The City of Seattle (under the lead of SPU) and Puget Sound Energy are studying the park and the adjoining lake bottom to gather information needed to clean it up. SPU said, “the investigation and subsequent cleanup of contaminated offshore sediments is expected to take several years.”

More information about this cleanup is available on the Washington State Department of Ecology’s website.

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Buckaroo’s Last Night

September 18th, 2010 by master

If you happened to pass by The Buckaroo Tavern last night, you probably knew something was going on. The place was packed shoulder to shoulder pretty much all night, but especially at night, as old friends and new fans gathered to raise a few glasses to one of the city’s most beloved watering holes. Motorcycles surrounded the front of the building at 4201 N. Fremont Ave. N. and one reveler burned rubber and exhaust fumes onto folks sitting in the outside patio area.

Patrons arriving after 7 p.m. had to bore a tunnel to the bar, which was slammed all night with orders as everyone wanted to drink one last beer (or a few) at this 72-year-old establishment. The long goodbye began months ago with flyers and tips from you, our readers.

Last night’s last hurrah was the culmination of 7 days of celebrations, said Buckaroo owner Donna Morey, who has run it since 1984. (It was supposed to be only three days.) Her grandson Christopher Morey was busy behind the bar all night, trying to keep up with non-stop demand for microbrews and “cheap beers.”

For a history of the Moreys’ time with the Buck, check out this write-up and video.

One former fixture, a tough as nails biker broad who calls her Harley “Buttercup,” who is also a physician’s assistant that doesn’t hesitate to help strangers in need, Donna Morey’s good friend Rusty, traveled from Spokane to take part in the Buck’s final days. She and her son Guido used to come here all the time. She was a regular years before the Moreys took over, but her loyalty is to them.

“Donna would make Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas,” Rusty said. “A lot of people here, they don’t have family, so this is our family.”

Anytime she needed help, she knew she could rely on her friends at the Buck.

When asked where they’ll end up going, regulars said they’d probably end up at The 2 Bit Saloon in that border area of Fremont and Ballard, on Leary (4818 17th Ave. NW).

Every third Thursday is Rat Bike Night, and more than likely, you’ll see more than a few regulars from the Buck.

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Fire aboard 150-foot trawler on Lake Union

September 17th, 2010 by master

A large dispatch of firefighters descended on Northlake Way along Lake Union in Wallingford this evening for a fire aboard a 150-foot trawler.

Firefighters were able to get the upper hand quickly after arriving. My Wallingford has the photos and video from the scene.

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Buckaroo Tavern’s last day

September 17th, 2010 by master

Fans of the Buckaroo Tavern: you have until 2 a.m. to say goodbye to this beloved Fremont establishment, which will close its doors at 4201 Fremont Ave. N. after last call tonight.

We told you Wednesday that the Buck’s countdown to closure was nigh and we shared with you this page, that chronicles the history of the 72-year-old neighborhood watering hole in words, photos and a video, with the help of the nonprofit Common Language Project.

Comments and memories have been coming to us via Twitter, our web site and in e-mail. Below is a photo of the Buck captured by photographer William Anthony, a former “Fremonster” who lived here for 6 years. He also recently took a gallery of photos of the recently completed 46th Street Mural.

Photo courtesy of William Anthony Photography, Inc.

“Despite the 2 a.m. Harley and Triumph revving, I enjoyed going to the Buck,” Anthony said, “I was never a regular. But I always respected it as a fixture in the community. It’s a living time capsule and it’s sad to see traditions end.”

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Zoo offers half-price admission to Storm fans this weekend

September 17th, 2010 by master

In honor of the Seattle Storm winning the WNBA Finals last night, the Woodland Park Zoo is offering half-price admission to fans on Saturday and Sunday.

Show a ticket stub at the admission gate for any game to the conference finals or finals held in Sept., including games on the road, or wear any Storm apparel such as a jersey, t-shirt, hat, and get half price off the admission fee. The discount applies to each person of all ages presenting a ticket stub or wearing Storm apparel. The discount offer is one-time only and may not be combined with any other discount or offer.

The zoo is open from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. this weekend. Admission is $16.50 for adults (ages 13-64), $11 for children 3-11, and free for kids 2 and under.

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Write a novel in a month with help from Writer’s Cramp

September 16th, 2010 by master

Even though I write for a living, the idea of writing a novel is daunting. Even my longest pieces don’t come close to a novel. (My editors might disagree.)

But I’ve signed up to do something that is a little crazy, given my schedule, but I like the challenge!

The National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is an international event in which participants commit to writing a novel (about 50,000 words, the word count for a short novel) during the month of November.

Our city has a lot of writers in its midst.

Seattle ranks first for word count (more than 38 million), average number of words (more than 30,000) and number of donations (almost 13,000).

Fremont’s own Writer’s Cramp is participating in this year’s challenge. Tonight’s class (6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.) begins the first of a six-week focus on the event at WC’s usual place, Fremont Abbey, 4272 Fremont Ave. N. (Caffe Vita across the street is the overflow spot.)

The “local word jock” who teaches the classes, Taylor Houston, writes:

Writer’s Cramp is gearing up for the main event by focusing on fiction writing. Classes will include readings and discussion on writing plot and setting, crafting characters, adding dialogue, and related topics. We will also spend time just getting our brains and pens warmed up by doing lots of loosely directed free-writing. It’s all in good fun, and any writer should find the activities fun and interesting, even if he or she is not writing a novel this November.

Classes are $5-$10 per session (donation) or $30 for the six weeks.

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Whirled Peas part of free P-Patch tour

September 16th, 2010 by master

The Fremont-Whirled Peas garden is well known in our neighborhood.  Now, residents from other parts of Seattle will get a chance to see it for free. The Seattle Department of Neighborhoods is offering a free van tour of P-Patch locations all over the city. The one in the northwest will be held October 23 from 1pm to 3pm.  The tour includes Whirled Peas, Hazel Heights, Greg’s, Good Shepherd and Ballard P-Patches. Meet at the Greenwood Neighborhood Service Center, 8515 Greenwood Avenue.  Space is limited, so register early online.

Whirled Peas P-Patch

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