Opinion: Pedestrian crossing at Beacon and Lander demands attention

Since the light rail station opened last summer, the crosswalk at Beacon and Lander has become the busiest on Beacon Hill. The majority of the people exiting the station are headed west to go to the bank, Red Apple, the southbound bus stop, or home. All of these people must cross Beacon, and many get very creative in the process. Because the crossing is way out at the corner and runs diagonally to the corner away from Red Apple and the bus stop, many people choose to just cross through the middle of the street. Because the crosswalk—which now has flashing beacons and signage, but once only had markings on the pavement—is at the intersection with Lander, there is not only north-south traffic moving through but also people turning onto Beacon from Lander. With the long crossing, the multitude of car approaches, and the scurrying light rail riders, it is ripe for an accident.

The other day I camped out at the crosswalk from 5:00-6:00 pm and filmed about 16 pedestrian crossings when cars were around. I put them together and, with very little editing, made this video:

This was not a “best of” video, but simply what you see at every rush hour here. After bemoaning the miserable state of our most popular Beacon crossing, I started to think about how the pedestrian infrastructure at all the other light rail stations in Seattle seemed satisfactory and even exemplary. Yesterday I decided to take a ride on the light rail and check out each station and then do a little compare and contrast with what we have been dealt. The results from this foray are here:

Apparently Sound Transit is only responsible for putting things back the way they found them, and Seattle’s Complete Streets Ordinance—which requires attention to pedestrian safety among other things—does not apply to them when they do their repave this summer. The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) has been working with Beacon BIKES! to improve this crossing, but they have limited funds. I am suggesting that Sound Transit work with us and SDOT to improve this crossing as part of the repave this summer. If you want to get involved please email me at dsahearn@gmail.com, and attend the next Beacon BIKES! meeting on Monday, June 21, at 6:00 pm at the Beacon Hill Library, 2821 Beacon Avenue South.

Be Safe!

(This is Dylan’s first post for the Beacon Hill Blog. Thanks, Dylan! — Editor.)

Further information on parking lot proposal near Link stations

Curtis LaPierre forwarded us a draft document from the Department of Planning and Development (DPD) about the proposal to allow temporary surface parking lots near Link light rail stations. You can read it here.

According to this draft, the intent of the proposal is to “promote rail ridership, encourage use of vacant properties and provide economic return until the development market returns,” and it would do this both by allowing existing parking areas in Station Area Overlay Districts to be used as commuter and customer parking, and by allowing “use of extra parking or vacant portions of a lot as commuter and customer parking for land related to existing institutions within walking distance of a light rail station.” The parking would be permitted as an interim use for a maximum period of three years.

A DPD representative will be at the next North Beacon Hill Council meeting to discuss the parking lot proposal. The meeting is on Thursday, June 3 at 6:30 pm in the Beacon Hill Library meeting room, 2821 Beacon Avenue South.

Walker Street Park prospects promising

View Parks Opportunity Fund application sites in a larger map
Click on each marker to identify the site
Two projects in North Beacon Hill, the Walker Street Park and Orchard and the North Beacon Hill Central Park, have scored in the top ten citywide among applications submitted for 2010 Parks and Green Spaces Levy Opportunity Fund grants, with the Walker Street Park achieving the status of “Staff recommended.” Eight North Beacon Hill projects were submitted in April to be considered for the grants. They were among 95 applications submitted city-wide, competing for $7 million in this funding cycle.

This week, Parks and Recreation released the results of the initial staff evaluations of the projects. You can read the criteria they used for scoring the projects here.

The Walker Street proposal is one of only 12 applications chosen as “staff recommended,” with the comment “Staff preference for funding in this neighborhood.” This does not guarantee that the proposal will be funded, but it is a good sign. All the other North Beacon projects, including the North Beacon Hill Central Park, are listed as “Lowest staff-ranked projects.” The Central Park is the highest-scoring project to be ranked as “lowest staff-ranked,” but the comments about it indicate some reasons for this: “Possible conflicts with Neighborhood Plan and City Council desire for increased density here.” Additionally, this would be a high-cost project, as would the Walker Street Park, and both are located in the same sector.

On Monday, June 28, the applicants have the opportunity to present their projects at the Levy Oversight Committee meeting. In September, there will be a public hearing on project prioritization and funding recommendations, and in January 2011, project funding recommendations will be given to the Mayor and City Council. The Council is expected to approve the recommendations in March, and the projects can begin implementation shortly afterward.

Thanks to Andrew Abian for the tip!

Barricade built in Rizal Park off-leash area

Last Saturday, a Seattle Works volunteer team came to the Dr. Jose Rizal Park off-leash area to build a barricade around the wet patch in the park and make it more dog-friendly. Craig Thompson sent us some photos and a report on the project.

This is the structure that we built on Saturday down at Jose Rizal Park. At its center is the pond, then a ring of concrete blocks, then a band of salmon berries, then the corral of wood. It stands 4-5 feet high, and measures about 25 feet across and 3 feet thick. It incorporates only objects from the site.

When I do work like this, I have Andy Goldsworthy in mind. This is a multigenerational piece. The corral will be taken by the elements. The band will fill in quickly, protecting the pool from those of the canine persuasion while providing berries for birds and neighborhood pies. The ring will stabilize the pool, and should the pool become a sustainable pond, it can be stocked with the lowland Pacific tree frog. The drainage should work to prevent mosquitoes and other blood suckers, though a woman did comment today that it made her wonder if it would be used for sacrifices. People will play with it—repairs should be easy. It will be interactive—might make a nice bonfire, too.

There’s a shortage of mid-level brush to host songbirds in Seattle Parks and woodlands generally, so this installation will likely draw them. Dogs can’t get all muddy there anymore.

Besides building the corral, we also repaired the fence just east of it. Most of the wood came from a pile that was near the view area of the lower meadow, so that area now looks more open, too. We also improved the drainage in the meadow – that is a much bigger task. We had over 40 Seattle Works volunteers, plus five neighbors. I divided them into three teams—one of the pix shows about a third of the group.

All in all, a darn fun project. Check it out if you have a moment—looks medieval!

(All photos courtesy of Craig Thompson.)

Alleycat Acres raising funds and produce

Alleycat Acres, a volunteer-driven urban farming collective is hosting a fundraiser tonight from 6:00 – 10:00 pm at Grey Gallery, 1512 11th Avenue on Capitol Hill. The suggested donation is $5-20 at the door.

Music for the event will be provided by DJ Colby B. and Brett Law, and there will be a raffle with prizes from local businesses. See more details at the website.

Sunday was the first ever harvest day at Alleycat Acres’ Beacon Hill farm site. Good Magazine filmed the harvest, and the volunteers harvested 129 pounds of lettuce, spinach, turnips, radishes, chard, and green onions, and delivered 120 pounds of the produce to the Beacon Avenue Food Bank.

129 pounds of produce harvested by Alleycat Acres last weekend. Photo by e pants via Creative Commons.

Council members to tour North Beacon next week

L to R: City Council members Richard Conlin and Mike O'Brien. Photos courtesy of Seattle City Council.
City Council members Mike O’Brien and Richard Conlin will visit our neighborhood for a Walking Tour of North Beacon Hill on Thursday, June 3. Anyone interested is welcome to participate. Here’s the schedule:

If you have questions about this walking tour, please contact Steve Louie at steve.louie@seattle.gov or 233-2044, or Esther Handy at esther.handy@seattle.gov or 684-8800.

(Editor’s note — corrected date since original publication. The correct date is Thursday, June 3.)

New coffee shop The Station opens

The Station, a new coffee shop, opened yesterday at 2533 16th Avenue South, just across from El Centro de la Raza and just north of Beacon Hill Station. The opening was celebrated with barbecue and a live DJ. The shop is small but comfortable, and is currently displaying paintings by Vanessa K. Wilken on the walls. Along with coffee, tea, and chocolate, The Station will also be carrying pastries from A Touch of Sweden.

Neighbors enjoy the grand opening. Photo by Wendi.
The interior of The Station. Photo by Wendi.

Pizzeria planned on North Beacon Hill

A pizza the Bar del Corso folks made this weekend. Photo courtesy of Gina Tolentino.
Next year, it looks like you’ll finally be able to get pizza on Beacon Hill. Jerry Corso and Gina Tolentino have signed a lease to open Bar del Corso on North Beacon Hill in early 2011. The Bar del Corso blog says:

“While we can’t say the exact address, we can say that it is in the Beacon Hill neighborhood. Take our word for it, the location is great, and very accessible—the pizzeria would be right on a bus line and just a couple blocks from the Light Rail station. Plus there will be lots of on-street, unmetered parking.”

“On a bus line and just a couple blocks from the Light Rail station”—let the site speculation begin!

According to the blog, the restaurant will be “a 48-seat pizzeria and wine bar with traditional Italian fare,” featuring a wood-burning pizza oven and regional Italian wines. There will be counter and table seating, as well as outdoor seating during the summer. Dinner will be served Tuesday through Saturday.

Corso and Tolentino are seeking investors to help raise the last 1/3 of the funds needed to open the restaurant, and holding fundraising events. For more information, see the blog or contact them at info@bardelcorso.com.

(Editor’s note—The previous photo was a generic pizza photo. Gina from Bar del Corso sent us a picture of their own pizza to use, so we replaced the photo on May 24.)

25th Avenue S to be closed on Tuesday for paving

On Tuesday, May 25, Sound Transit’s contractor, Obayashi Corporation, will close 25th Avenue South between South McClellan Street and South Hanford Street for final paving work. The closure is temporary and will be in place between 7:00 am and 5:00 pm. No detour is necessary; local access will be granted at all times, and signage and flaggers will be on-site to help drivers through the work zone.

If you have any construction-related concerns, please call the construction hotline at 1-888-298-2395.

The work zone is marked in red. See a larger map.