Last of graffiti removed from Counterbalance Park

Yesterday, Saturday, February 27, Parks and Recreation crews removed the last of the graffiti sprawled over the concrete walls at Counterbalance Park almost three weeks ago.

Reader Cliff Cooper sent in these photos. He wrote,

It looks as though the left side is completely clean, but there clearly having difficulty removing from the corrugated siding.

Through most of the graffiti is gone, there is still a faint indication of the paint on the metal siding. The majority of the tags were removed the day after the vandalism took place, however because the concrete walls were only sealed up to 11 feet high, it has taken this long to remove the remainder.

(Thanks to Cliff Cooper for the pictures and tip!)

Slick substance causes trouble on Bertona

At around 4:30 p.m. today, Friday, February 26, we received an email from a reader informing us of some traffic issues on Bertona. Charlie writes,

My bosses husband just called and said that cars were getting stuck going up Bertona. Apparently a slick substance spilled on the road way and it is making it difficult for cars to make it up the hill.

We’re not sure if the scene has been cleared yet (I’m out of town or I’d go check), so if you’re driving on or near Bertona, keep on the look out for traffic. If you have more information on the rumored spill, please comment below or email us at

Should Seattle change or stagger closing times?

Publicola published an interesting story yesterday that raised the question of whether or not Seattle should extend the current closing time from 2 to 4 a.m. across the board, or stagger times throughout the city in an attempt to improve public safety. From Publicola,

The theory is that by encouraging staggered closing times, the thousands of customers who roll out onto the street at  am would be dispersed over the night. This would take pressure off of SPD, allowing them to do better, more focused enforcement. It would also help curb drunk driving (at 2 am there is little taxi cab availability due to the spiked demand for cabs with everyone settling up at the same time.) There would also be less concentration of noise on the streets at 2am solving one of the most frequent complaints from downtown residents. And of course with an increase in operating hours comes an increase in revenue (and jobs) for bars, and in turn, more revenue to the State and City.

Many cities across the country have started extending liquor service to 3 and 4 a.m., while a few have tried 24-hour service, including Birmingham, Alabama, Atlantic City, Memphis and the entire states of Nevada and Louisiana. Read Publicola’s full story here.

Since both Lower and Upper Queen Anne have a large bar and lounge presence, there’s no doubt the hill would be greatly affected by any change to the city’s current closing time. So, Queen Anne, what do you think? Should Seattle keep closing time at 2 a.m., extend it, or stagger it? Do you think this would improve safety in the neighborhood?

Toulouse Petit ups the happy hour stakes

Toulouse Petit has just announced its extended happy hour times and menu. After running $5 meals on weekday mornings through January in celebration of its new breakfast service, the New Orleans French Quarter restaurant decided to make what they call the “breakfast happy hour” a permanent fixture, offering almost anything on the menu for $6 between 9 and 11 a.m.

In addition, their two afternoon and evening happy hours, from 4 to 5:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. to 1:30 a.m., have been expanded to include drink specials, over 50 menu items, and the entire dessert menu for $5 or less.

For more info, check out Toulouse Petit’s Facebook page.

It’s Polar Science Weekend at the Science Center

Looking for something fun to do over this drizzly weekend? Wrap up and head down to the Pacific Science Center for Polar Science Weekend, now through Sunday, February 28. The Science Center has teamed up with the University of Washington’s Applied Physics Laboratory to bring four days of demonstrations, exhibits and talks for families, kids and citizen scientists interested in learning more about the poles.

The Science Center touts that the weekend’s events are “a rare opportunity to dive head first into the mysterious and somewhat unknown world of polar science featuring interactive exhibits and a chance to talk with some of the nation’s top polar scientists.”

Demonstrations and lectures include, Ice Under Fire; The Sky Tonight with Feature Focus on the Poles; Polar Bears and Beluga Whales of the Arctic with Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium.

The Polar Ice Weekend exhibit at the Pacific Science Center opens at 10 a.m. daily. For more information, check out their website.

Final weekend for zoo Night Exhibit

This is the final weekend to enjoy the Night Exhibit at the Woodland Park Zoo.

(Photo by Ryan Hawk, Woodland Park Zoo.)

The zoo announced earlier this year that they must close the exhibit as a cost-cutting measure.

“The exhibit’s final closure date will be March 1, 2010,” the zoo website states. Some animals will be transferred to other exhibits at Woodland Park, others will be sent to other zoos.

Off-leash area, development options dominate Lower Kinnear Park town hall discussion

(Editor’s Note: Nick Feldman is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communication News Laboratory.)

On Thursday night, nearly 60 landscape architects, parks department officials and Queen Anne residents convened at the Bayview Retirement Community to give feedback on the potential options for the rejuvenation of Lower Kinnear Park. The second of three meetings followed a gathering of 40 people on Jan. 19 in which neighbors voiced their concerns to community planning group FOLKpark and architecture firm Hough Beck and Baird.

Using large maps with overlays of the proposed changes, Dean Koonts and his team of architects took turns explaining the three “preliminary drafts” they created based on input from community members at the previous meeting and from the online survey, to which there were 88 responses.

Of the 59 attendees, 27 chose to discuss the development of an off-leash area (OLA) for dogs as the meeting split into discussion groups. After an hour of dialogue, the group relayed their suggested area size (5,300 sq. feet) and their desire to integrate it into the park’s landscape.

“It would be a great asset to the neighborhood to have an off leash park considering how far away every other off leash area is,” Brad Weinberg wrote on FOLKpark’s Facebook page. “To have a designated area for off leash play would open up the rest of the park for those people who aren’t dog owners [and] would limit people from using the rest of the park as an off leash area.”

While there are 11 OLAs in Seattle, none exist in the Queen Anne neighborhood, and in 2006 the Park Department Superintendent designated Lower Kinnear Park as the best site for that purpose. However, according to Parks and Green Spaces Levy manager Rick Nishi, the allocated funding source doesn’t allow for off-leash projects until later years.

The three large draft plans were fundamentally different, but the two major components that each concept shared were increased compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and a reestablished linkage to the waterfront via the “North Trail Link,” (.pdf) one of the ideas from the previous meeting that Koonts said “came through loud and clear.”

Plan A” (.pdf) primarily focused on the northeast slope, re-engineering the hillside and easing the grade to make it more easy to navigate. While the cost of that effort was a concern for many of the community members in attendance, there was a general consensus in support of the plan’s expanded plaza on Mercer Street. Koonts also mentioned that this option best fits a designated OLA.

The most notable feature of “Plan B” (.pdf) was its elevated trail and boardwalk, as well as refurbished and redesigned tennis courts—ideas that drew mixed responses from community members based more on cost effectiveness than the design itself.

Focusing more directly on safety and sustainability, “Plan C” (.pdf) featured popular ideas such as rain gardens and other stormwater solutions as well as less popular ones such as a connecting set of hill-climb stairs near West Mercer Place.

HBB now plans to adjust their drafts in order to create an action plan and cost estimate, taking into account the feedback from the most recent discussion. With that plan, FOLKpark plans to apply to the Parks and Green Spaces Levy Opportunity Fund in early April seeking an amount likely near $700,000. They then plan to hold the third and final community meeting on April 8 at 7 p.m., also at the Bayview, to establish a community consensus on the preferred plan.

FOLKpark initiated a rejuvenation of the five-acre urban forest after winning a $15,000 grant from the city’s Department of Neighborhoods last year. They chose HBB based on the firm’s history with sustainable green design and crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED).

Ballard Bridge work continues through March 5

This week the Seattle Department of Transportation is working on one northbound lane of the Ballard Bridge, next week they’ll move to the southbound lanes. This was sent to us from SDOT:

The southbound, right lane of the Ballard Bridge will be closed from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, March 1 to 5. Crews from the Seattle Department of Transportation plan to make repairs on the underside of the bridge.

This work is subject to change in the event that crews are called away to perform emergency work at another location.

Woman says she was mugged & assaulted outside her Lower Queen Anne apartment

Update 2/26/2010: Camille wrote in our comments,

I wanted to give you all an update. I found out two important things last night. The first, chivalry is not as dead as we thought. Apparently a man ran out of his building holding an axe to come and help me but he didn’t arrive until the attacker ran off and I was already inside. The second, a gardener found my bag. It was in Gerard Schwarz’s (the man who runs the Seattle Symphony) yard over on Highland. That’s a mile and a half away, which clearly indicates that they had a car. This makes me certain that the car I saw before the attack (black celica or ford probe with rust around he windows) was involved. Thank you to everyone for your concern, please be careful.

At 11:45 p.m. on Tuesday, February 23 Camille parked on the block of her Lower Queen Anne apartment, near W Roy St. and 3rd Ave W. As she was walking home, a man walking the opposite direction grabbed her, pushed her down, and kicked her in the face and chest repeatedly, before running off with her purse.

She wrote to us wanting to share her story and help warn other people in the area, particularly young women, of similar attacks. Camille wrote,

I got out of my car onto the sidewalk less than a block from my building. I immediately saw a man walking slowly towards me. He was probably 5’7″, relatively thin, a light-skinned black man or a Hispanic man, was wearing a fitted tan or brown hoodie and had a beanie with a hood on. He wasn’t disheveled or homeless looking but he was very creepy. I didn’t want to be judgmental and like a lot of white people felt that being scared of him in some way made me racist. So, instead of trusting my instincts and getting back into my car and locking the doors, or even simply crossing the street I walked towards him.

We passed one another under the awning to the Iris Apartments which are surrounded by bushes and have no street lights. Right as I passed him he turned and grabbed me. I instinctually tried to get away, he grabbed harder, I started screaming. Eventually he knocked me onto the ground and kicked me in my face down by my mouth and in my chest. I don’t really remember what happened next but eventually he ripped my bag off of me and ran off. I’m pretty certain I was screaming the entire time. I kept thinking someone would come outside or start yelling but no one did. How can no one hear me right now I thought. I was surrounded by hundreds of people all hidden in their apartments. As he ran off I was still standing there screaming and crying help but no one did.

Despite the fact that the stretch from Roy and 3rd Ave W to the entrance of Kinnear Park is always “very very very dark,” Camille said she’s never felt unsafe walking there before midnight, until Tuesday.

Camille happened to have had her keys in her hand during the attack, and was able to get into the building and use Skype on her computer to call her boyfriend. She sat in the lobby of her apartment and spotted a police officer walk by outside. He had her cellphone, which had fallen out of her bag during the attack. The officer told her that they had received several calls about her screaming, though no one came outside to help. Camille wrote,

I filed the report but don’t feel like that will do anything. Since the incident I’ve instead been warning as many people as possible. Last night when I got home from dinner at 10:30pm I didn’t see any police patrolling.

Other than having a sore back and neck, Camille says she is doing pretty well. Luckily there was nothing too valuable in her bag and she was able to cancel all her credit cards before they were used. Still, she says the attack was a frightening and emotional experience, so much so that she wrote to her anonymous attacker in a “missed connections” ad on Craigslist.

Camille doesn’t have any clues as to who the assailant might be. While she was parking her car that night she remembered seeing a black car “with oxidation and rust around the tinted windows” stop when she appeared.

It seemed weird. I’m not sure if they stopped simply because they were being cautious with a car coming around the corner, but it did seem odd.

If anyone has any further information about the incident, please comment below. Although Camille would like to retrieve her items, she’s more concerned with the safety of other women who could be thrust into similar situations. She wrote,

I have numerous friends living in Queen Anne who are young women that live alone. I’m worried for them. I’m worried for anyone who ever thought they could simply walk 50 feet to their door without being kicked in the face.

Lane closures on Mercer Saturday

City crews will be closing down the eastbound and westbound lanes of Mercer Street under SR 99 one at a time on Saturday, February 27 between 8 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. so that Seattle Public Utility Graffiti Rangers can remove vandalism. Keep this in mind when traveling off the hill this weekend, as added delays are expected.