Hazardous material spill on Ship Canal boat

Seattle Fire responded to a hazardous material spill on a boat along the Queen Anne side of the Ship Canal on Friday evening.

Several people reported feeling ill, and at least one person was taken to the hospital. We’ll update when we learn more. (Thanks Silver for the tip!)

Update 5/4 10 a.m.: Our intern Jesse did a little digging, and got the following details about the spill from the Seattle Fire Department:

The hazardous material spill was the result of a Freon tank that was accidentally broken open, according to a Seattle Fire Department spokesperson. Two or Three employees on a ship at 616 W. Ewing St. were said to have accidentally broken open the 22-pound Freon cylinder, which released the Freon into an 8-by-12 room. Firefighters evacuated the crew off of the boat, stopped the leak and ventilated the room. One employee was taken to the hospital as a precaution, but he didn’t have any symptoms of toxic exposure, nor did any of the other employees report feeling ill, according to the SFD spokesperson.

Seattle Center may not get its Ferris wheel after all

Back in December the Seattle Center announced that it would be constructing a 200-foot observation wheel at the former Fun Forest site as part of The Next Fifty, a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the 1962 World’s Fair and the birth of the Center. But now the Ferris wheel, which was supposed to open this spring, may not be coming to the grounds at all, according to Seattle Center representative Deborah Dauost.

Great City Attractions, a British company that operates observation wheels in Asia and Europe and had planned to transport, construct and operate the wheel at Seattle Center has met trouble securing liability insurance for the ride, according to a report by The Seattle Times. This would have been the first wheel the company constructed in the United States. From the Times:

“We’re still talking with Great City, but we’re looking into other options as well,” Dauost said. The Center’s master plan calls for an iconic ride to replace the carnival rides and arcade games that operated at the site.

According to the report, Seattle Center representatives became concerned over Great City’s difficulties in securing arrangements for the wheel over the past couple of month when the company asked to push back the opening from April to July, and later told officials that the wheel would meet further delays due to the royal wedding in London.

Seattle Center officials were hoping to bring the giant observation wheel to the campus as a tribute to the carnival spirit of the original World’s Fair, with a futuristic design that looked to the years ahead for the campus and the city surrounding it. The ride, which was supposed to run through October 2012, was projected to attract half a million visitors per year.

But even if the Seattle Center cancels its plans to bring an observation wheel to the campus, the city may be getting one soon in a different iconic location –  Pier 57 owner Hal Griffith is currently in the midst of getting the necessary permits to bring a similar Ferris wheel to the city’s waterfront, according to the Times report. Read the full story here.

Nominate your teacher to be Teacher of the Year

May is National Teacher Appreciation month and Ivar’s restaurants want to honor the area’s top teachers. The grand prize winner will win a $500 gift card for school supplies and of course the bragging rights as Ivar’s Teacher of the Year. Four teachers will receive first prize of $150 gift card and 30 teachers will receive second prize of a $25 Ivar’s gift card. The nominating student of the top teacher will win a classroom chowder party, complete with Ivar’s famous dancing clam. Students 14 years or younger can visit any Puget Sound-area Ivar’s and fill out an entry form or nominate the teacher online. Entries must be received by May 22, 2011.

QACC transportation committee votes to endorse SDOT’s alternative 5 for West Mercer Place

The Queen Anne Community Council transportation committee voted to endorse SDOT’s alternative 5 to improve traffic flow on Elliot Avenue West and West Mercer Place last night at a particularly packed committee meeting.

The vote to endorse the alternative that would extend the two left-turn lanes on Elliott Avenue West before West Mercer Place came after much debate between councilmembers and West Mercer Place residents. The endorsement letter will be presented at the QACC meeting next Wednesday for final approval, after which it will be sent to SDOT and other appropriate parties.

Alternative 5, which by SDOT’s estimates is much cheaper than the other alternatives and can boast the most improvement on travel time reduction, has also recently been supported by the Port of Seattle, according to Transportation Committee Chair Glenn Avery. The five alternatives were presented at an open house put on by SDOT in mid-March.

The four elements in the letter endorsing Alternative 5 are: extending the turn pocket on Elliott; eliminating the Business Access and Transit (BAT) lane south of West Mercer Place; restating the position of the QACC for a reconsideration of the Nickerson road diet; and consideration of pedestrian safety.

Queen Anne Community Council President Ellen Monrad said she was told that, if approved, SDOT would implement the project soon and would likely be working on it this year.

A second letter regarding the addition of traffic lights and pedestrian crossing along West Mercer Place was also voted on and approved by the committee. The three elements of the letter include: pedestrian safety in the Mercer/Roy Corridor; additional crosswalks and traffic lights on West Mercer Street at Fourth and Fifth Avenue West; and the addition of sidewalks if SDOT performs any projects on West Mercer Place.

Since the Nickerson Street road diet, and with the coming changes from the Mercer West Project and the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program, increased freight traffic through the neighborhood along West Mercer Place has been a growing concern to residents.

The wording and contents of the letter endorsing the alternative came before the vote, with some residents wanting to add more mention of neighborhood preservation. Mike Warren and other councilmembers floated the idea of a separate committee of residents, the Queen Anne Community Council and the Uptown Alliance with funding from a Small and Simple grant to comprehensively address neighborhood preservation.

SDOT to perform safety improvement work at Halladay and Aurora next week

The Seattle Department of Transportation has issued a traffic advisory regarding a safety improvement at Halladay Street and Aurora Avenue North, just south of the Aurora Bridge.

From the SDOT press release:

The Halladay Street exit from northbound Aurora will be closed only from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. during construction to minimize traffic disruption. The Halladay Street entrance to northbound Aurora Avenue North will remain open. The work is expected to take four to five days. A Police Officer and a traffic flagger will assist traffic.

Barring unfavorable weather, SDOT will modify the existing median island at this location to improve sight distance for drivers entering and exiting Aurora Avenue North. This is to address “a history of nearly 20 rear-end collisions per year,” according to an SDOT press release. In addition, new curb ramps and signage will be installed.

This road construction is part of the Aurora Traffic Safety Project, “a two-year effort to improve collisions on Aurora through low-cost engineering, enforcement, and education efforts.”

For more information, visit their website at www.seattle.gov/aurora.

‘Nifty’ youth film festival kicks off today

The largest youth film festival in the country is right here in Seattle.

The Fifth annual National Film Festival for Talented Youth (NFFTY, or “nifty”) kicks off on Thursday and features 225 films created by directors 22-years-old and younger. The four-day festival is expected to draw nearly 10,000 film fans. The films have been submitted by young people from 40 states and 20 countries.

Festival highlights include:

  • Opening Night Gala at Cinerama and The Space Needle
  • Friday Night & Centerpiece Shorts
  • NFFTY Happy Hour
  • Late Night Comedy and Horror Screenings
  • Documentaries
  • Closing Night: NW Scene
  • The festival was founded by Ballard native Jesse Harris. More information on screenings and tickets can be found here.

    Gilman Gardens expansion plans approved

    We’ve been following the growth of the Gilman Gardens since its inception, through the planning stages and ground breaking, to work parties and the planting of the first seeds at 20-plot the community garden. This week Gilman Gardens has another bit of news–SDOT has granted the group a permit to begin work on a garden expansion.

    The existing garden was constructed out of a median along Gilman Drive W. and 13th Ave. W. The expansion will allow the group to construct a second garden along another median adjacent to the current site. The expanded garden space will include a native plant restoration area where existing blackberry bushes and Apple trees will remain, a grape arbor, another 20 terraced garden plots, space for compost and wood chip bins, rain collection and/or flower and vine areas, and five parking stalls.

    Gilman Gardens founder Charlie Hoselton says that a construction schedule has not yet been set, but those interested in snagging a garden plot in the expanded space should meet at the garden this Sunday, May 1 at 11 a.m., or the following Saturday, May 7 at 10 a.m.

    For more information on the Gilman Gardens expansion, view the design plan here (.pdf). For news and updates on the garden check the Gilman Gardens blog.

    Dining Out For Life kicks off Thursday, raising money for the Lifelong AIDS Alliance

    It’s that time of year again: the 18th annual Dining Out For Life event, in which 150 Seattle area restaurants will donate portions of their proceeds to the Lifelong AIDS Alliance, is happening this coming Thursday, April 28.

    There are a number of Queen Anne restaurants participating in the fundraiser for either breakfast, lunch dinner, or all three. Check out the list of participating neighborhood spots:

    • Caffe Vita (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
    • Eat Local (B,L,D)
    • Emmer&Rye (D)
    • Hilltop Ale House (L, D)
    • McMenamins Queen Anne (D)
    • Pasta Bella (D)
    • Ponti Seafood Grill (D)
    • Portage (D)

    Check out the full list of participating restaurants here.

    To find out more about the Lifelong AIDS Alliance and the services the fundraiser will support, watch this video:

    If you can’t attend Dining Out For Life, but would still like to show your support, donations can be made directly to the Lifelong AIDS Alliance here.

    SPD catches wanted burglar in the act

    The Seattle Police Department (SPD) arrested a wanted burglar who was caught in the midst of another crime Tuesday night, according to the SPD Blotter.

    At approximately 11:42 p.m. on Tuesday, April 26, West Precinct patrol officers responded to a call from a silent burglar alarm at a furniture store in the 3000 block of 1st Avenue. Officers saw movement inside the business, but searched for over and hour before locating the suspect due to the size of the building. The suspect was finally found in a crawlspace between the drywall and insulation of the building where he had been hiding, according to SPD. From the Blotter:

    The officers immediately recognized the suspect from a bulletin that had been passed around at roll call earlier that night.  This suspect had a felony warrant for a burglary at a school in the International District.  He is also suspected of committing many more burglaries in the West and South Precincts.  The follow-up unit detectives who issued the bulletin were notified by voicemail of his capture.

    The suspect was taken into custody without incident and booked into King County Jail on Investigation of Burglary and the felony warrant.

    Prepare for Mercer Street on and off-ramp weekend closures throughout the month of May

    The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is preparing for more weekend-long closures at the Mercer Street on and off-ramp to I-5 throughout May.

    Work that is part of Mercer Corridor Project will shut down the on and off-ramps for at least two weekends this month: Friday, May 6 to Monday, May 9, and Friday, May 20 to Monday, May 23. The Mercer Street exit and on-ramp may also be closed for a third weekend, from Friday, May 13 to Monday, May 16, pending final coordination with other major work projects in the area.

    The I-5 on-ramp at University Street will be concurrently closed to provide more efficient traffic flow around the closed Mercer Street exit lane. Fairview Avenue N will also be closed between Mercer Street and Valley Street. All detour routes will be clearly marked to support traffic flow around the closures.

    Mercer Street ramp closures are required for utility installations on Fairview Avenue N at Mercer Street, including water, sewer, electrical and communications line installations, as well as to align the existing on- and off-ramps with the future westbound lanes of Mercer Street.

    During weekend closures, Metro Transit plans to reroute its bus service on routes 70, 71, 72, 73 and 83 off of Fairview Avenue N from 11:00 p.m. on Friday to 5:00 a.m. on Monday. Buses will be rerouted via Eastlake Avenue E: northbound between Mercer Street and Galer Street; and southbound from Galer Street to Thomas Street. Rerouted buses will serve posted stops on Eastlake Avenue E, but will not make any stops on the cross streets between Eastlake and Fairview.