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Local volunteer recognized with Denny Award

November 16th, 2012 at 5:13 pm | 7 Comments | Posted by Wendi Dunlap

Seattle Parks and Recreation announced today the winners of the 2012 Denny Awards for Outstanding Volunteer Stewardship. Among the winners: Beacon Hill’s own Craig
Thompson, who received the Community Stewardship Award for his work at Dr. Jose Rizal Park and the nearby area.

Here’s how Parks described him:

“Since 2001, Craig Thompson has been on a mission to reclaim the overgrown, crime ridden hillside at the north end of the East Duwamish Greenbelt and to activate Dr. Jose Rizal Park.

“He has spent hundreds of hours clearing brush himself and organizing work parties for thousands of volunteers. After a decade of volunteer leadership and personal stewardship, Craig’s hard work is paying off. With the completion of the Mountains to Sound Greenway trail through the greenbelt and park, activity has increased tenfold. Craig now spearheads activation. He continues to solicit and lead volunteer groups. He has provided mentorship and support to the new Off Leash Dog Area Steward. He inspired and continues to lead an Orchard Steward group, which has renovated and maintains an orchard in the park. And, he is now a Green Seattle Partnership Forest Steward.”

Additionally, Russell Odell was nominated for an award. He is a youth mock trial instructor at Jefferson Community Center.

The Denny Awards are named for Seattle pioneers David T. and Louisa Denny, who donated land for Seattle’s first park, Denny Park, in 1884.

Craig Thompson at a community meeting about PacMed development in August 2011.


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Fire leads to landslide risk at Rizal Park

September 10th, 2012 at 5:18 am | No Comments | Posted by Wendi Dunlap

By Elizabeth Dinh, KOMO Communities
(Beacon Hill Blog news partners)

A fire at Dr. Jose Rizal Park on North Beacon Hill Saturday night did more than ruin a viewpoint—it has put some motorists in danger.

The area at Rizal Park is prone to landslides—and now that the plants have been destroyed in a fireworks-sparked blaze, the risk of a slide has re-emerged.

Volunteers have spent years beautifying this park, and Saturday night’s fire ruined some of their work. And if heavy rains sweep in before this charred land is reinforced, it could pose a threat to the many people who walk and jog there.

Nine years have passed since Craig Thompson first started putting a lot of time and effort into the park that’s a few minutes away from his home.

“And we’ve done quite a bit of good work,” he says.

Volunteers have planted an apple orchard and put in more vegetation—including thousands of trees.

“We’ve managed to put ivy control measures around about 1,000 trees. We’ve planted upward of 7,000 trees,” says Thompson. He has even worked with Seattle police on how to take back the park from drug lords.

Then, at about 7:30 p.m. Saturday, fireworks touched off flames that raced across the dry land.

“I live about block and a half away from here, and we heard the bottle rockets go off,” Thompson says.

Below the beautiful Seattle skyline is now a charred patch of land that—with rain—could pose a danger to people who visit the popular park.

“This is a historically landslide-prone area,” says Thompson.

The devastation bothers David Choy, a visitor from Texas who’s been coming here for more than two decades.

“That’s a terrible shame,” he says. “I always come through here because this is such beautiful scenery. I brought my uncle and my aunt over here to look at the scenery.”

But Thompson isn’t mad about having to clean up and bring in more plants. He’s only looking forward.

“I look at it, and rather than becoming depressed or angry, I see what needs to be done,” he says.

He sees yet another opportunity to make this a better place. Volunteers already had plans to come out here on September 21 and 22 to clean up the park. Thompson says that with the added work needed to fix up the area where the fire was, it would be nice to have even more helpers come out.


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Volunteers to improve Rizal Park today

July 20th, 2012 at 6:23 am | No Comments | Posted by Wendi Dunlap

King5 reports on a special event today on North Beacon Hill:

Jose Rizal Park is one of a few Seattle parks that will be filled with volunteers Friday as part of Volunteer In Parks Day, a project of the Seattle Parks Foundation. Volunteers will plant trees and flowers, clean up litter, remove weeds and more.

The event is from from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today, and more volunteers are welcome. You can register here.

See the video report here:


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Beacon Hill contributes to “Spiral of Hope” in Lake Union Park

April 17th, 2012 at 3:27 am | 2 Comments | Posted by Wendi Dunlap

Part of Beacon Hill will become a new temporary sculpture in Lake Union Park: “Spiral of Hope.” Thousands of tree branches from Dr. Jose Rizal Park and the greenbelt on the northwest side of Beacon Hill will be gathered and assembled by community volunteers to build the spiral, which will remain at Lake Union Park until June 17. The work is intended to give a diverse group of community members a chance to work together, as well as to stimulate thought and discussions about the issue of family homelessness.

Kiersten Throndsen of BHB news partner KOMO Communities recently posted about the project:

“Hope, opportunity, community – these are the words used to describe a new sculpture coming to Lake Union Park.

“‘We think art is an inspiring process,’ said Bryan Ohno, president of Urban Art Concept.

“Last fall, Ohno was approached by several students from Seattle University who shared a vision.

“‘They came to us and were wondering if we could use art as a tool to bring more awareness to family homelessness throughout the state of Washington,’ he said.

“Their idea sparked the ‘Spiral of Hope’ project.

“‘Usually someone is spiraling down, out of control but we are going to do the opposite, our spiral will soar up,’ said Ohno.”

Ohno worked with Beacon Hill resident Craig Thompson to organize the branch collection. Volunteers gathered branches at Rizal Park last weekend, but the project continues at the park this coming weekend as well (April 21-22). To join the volunteer project, sign up at the Facebook page, send an email to info@urbanartconcept.com with “Spiral Project Volunteer” in the subject line, or call 206-459-6857.

Volunteers are also needed to help build the sculpture on weekends starting on Friday, April 27 at Lake Union Park, 860 Terry Avenue North. The sculpture opens with a reception on Friday, May 18.


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World War II memorial dedicated in Rizal Park

February 7th, 2012 at 6:15 am | No Comments | Posted by Wendi Dunlap

On February 4, three local Filipino-American World War II veterans, Mariano Berona, Rosendo Luna, and Gene del Rosario, were honored at the dedication of a monument in Dr. Jose Rizal Park to honor the Filipino defenders of Bataan and Corregidor during World War II. February 4 was selected for the dedication because it is the anniversary of the date in 1945 when General Douglas MacArthur liberated Manila.

The Bataan and Corregidor Survivors Association proposed and sponsored the memorial placed within the park. At one point, it seemed that the memorial would not be able to happen, due to a city policy that prohibits memorials within city parks. Local writer Craig Thompson described the struggle in a recent column, quoting project leader Larry Cambronero: “‘…It dawned on me, I have no other choice but to press on. Perseverance and persistence were the two most valuable words taught to me by my grandfather, Robert [Rufino Cambronero, a Bataan survivor].'” The city eventually agreed to allow the monument.

Dr. Jose Rizal Park has also previously been the site of the Bataan and Corregidor Survivors Association’s yearly picnic. The park was dedicated in 1979, and is named after Dr. Jose Rizal, a Filipino patriot and reformer who was executed by the Spanish after he was accused of involvement in the 1896 Filipino insurrection.

See also a lovely write-up in the Seattle Times about Saturday’s dedication.


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Rizal Park meeting rescheduled for Wednesday

January 30th, 2012 at 7:06 am | No Comments | Posted by Wendi Dunlap

This mural is a landmark in Dr. Jose Rizal Park. Photo by Seattle Daily Photo in the Beacon Hill Blog photo pool on Flickr.

Seattle Parks and Recreation will hold a meeting this Wednesday to discuss Dr. Jose Rizal Park’s off-leash area as well as future opportunities for the park.

Because of the recent snow and slush, Parks rescheduled the meeting to this Wednesday afternoon, February 1, from 1 to 2 p.m. The first part of the meeting will be at the park itself, 1008 12th Ave. S., and the second half will be held at the Quarters 1 conference room at the Pacific Medical Center building, 1200 12th Ave. S.

Topics under discussion at this meeting wil be the newly-redesigned off-leash area and the other partnership efforts in the park. Parks staff will address the following issues:

  • Why the off-leash area was redesigned and why it is 4.1 acres in size
  • Program and partnership opportunities to re-activate the park so it is safe and accessible
  • Identification of maintenance priorities and fund raising opportunities
  • Roles and responsibilities of Parks staff and volunteers in park maintenance and attention to ongoing issues

There may be mud in the park; dress accordingly.


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Volunteers wanted to help out in local parks

January 12th, 2012 at 6:01 am | No Comments | Posted by Wendi Dunlap

Two Beacon Hill parks are part of the Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend of Service volunteer activities this weekend through EarthCorps, the Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation, and the Green Seattle Partnership. Volunteers will work at Dearborn Park and Jose Rizal Park, doing a variety of service tasks including maintenance, planting of trees and ground cover, invasive plant removal, wood chip application, and more.

The following Saturday, January 21, EarthCorps is organizing another volunteer event on Beacon Hill at the Cheasty Greenspace.

To be part of any of these volunteer events, read more and sign up at the links below:


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Beacon Bits: Clean air, new shoes, and a Mercer miracle

December 6th, 2011 at 7:01 am | 2 Comments | Posted by Wendi Dunlap

Photo by Wendi.

Asa Mercer Middle School on Beacon Hill has made a remarkable transformation, going from a school in which only 13.8 percent of eighth graders passed the state science test in 2005, to one in which 84.3 percent passed last year. Brian M. Rosenthal of The Seattle Times writes about the “Mercer model”: teaching “urgently,” relying on data and team coordination, and using a customized math curriculum.

“The central administration was largely unaware of Mercer’s approach, School Board member Kay Smith-Blum said.

“‘They did it sort of undercover,” she said. “They just did what their kids needed.’

“The results were clear: The number of students passing the state math tests more than doubled, to 70.8 percent, during [former principal] Lutz’s tenure.”

* * *

Michael Harthorne from BHB news partners Beacon Hill KOMO reports that Denise Louie Education Center (located on Beacon Hill, Rainier Beach, and the International District) has received a donation from Payless that will allow the organization to provide shoes for 50 children in need.

* * *

The SunBreak draws our attention to Beacon Hill’s air quality: though Seattle is currently under an air stagnation advisory, Beacon Hill has the cleanest air in town.

* * *

Art Thiel at Sports Press NW comments about the Valero Alamo Bowl, where the Huskies will play against Baylor on December 29: “Then there is the issue of figuring out what a Valero is. Turns out it’s a large petroleum company with a small presence in Washington. Next time you’re on Beacon Hill, check out the C&C Mart. It’s the only Valero store in Seattle.”

* * *

The Seattle Times featured a photo of romping dogs at Dr. Jose Rizal Park in “Is Seattle a cat town or a dog town?”


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Rizal Park Off-Leash Area reconfiguration announced

October 27th, 2011 at 8:06 am | 1 Comment | Posted by Wendi Dunlap

Dr. Jose Rizal Off-Leash Area reconfiguration. Click on this image to see a larger PDF of the area.

The reconfiguration of the Dr. Jose Rizal Park Off-Leash Area (OLA) has been announced. OLA suppporters had feared that the 5-acre dog area would be reduced to 1.5 acres in the new site design, but after community input, Seattle Parks and Recreation announced that the reconfiguration would give the OLA a 4.1 acre space. This would provide about the same amount of usable space as the previous site had, since part of the previous site was inaccessible.

Acting superintendent of Seattle Parks, Christopher Williams, sent the following letter out to the community:

Dear Off-Leash Area Supporter,

Thank you for your participation in our efforts to reconfigure the Dr. Jose Rizal Park off-leash area to accommodate the new Mountains to Sound Greenway Trail. We listened to what you told us in the recent public meeting, and I’m very pleased to let you know that Parks staff have identified a 4.1 acre area that maximizes the available, usable space in the park to serve as our off-leash area. To see the new configuration, please see the attached schematic.

Major change has come to Dr. Jose Rizal Park because of the construction of the trail. The trail, which is a wonderful new amenity for the city and for the neighborhood, unfortunately took about one acre of the original off-leash area. It has also brought about renewed interest in the park, increased volunteer activity by the ever-active and much appreciated Beacon Area Neighbors, and recent Parks improvements that include:

  • Thinning the quaking aspen and birch trees. This thinning, consistent with Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) principles, improves sight lines in the park, both within and outside the off-leash area. It also gives the remaining trees the opportunity to thrive and creates more usable space in the off-leash area.
  • Along with volunteers from Beacon Area Neighbors, maintenance crews cleared approximately 1.5 acres of blackberries, which also creates more usable spaces within the off-leash area.

More »


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Rizal Park off-leash area changes to be discussed at 10/20 meeting

October 17th, 2011 at 7:25 am | 4 Comments | Posted by Wendi Dunlap

As mentioned previously in this space, Seattle Parks and Recreation will host a public meeting this Thursday, October 20 from 6:30-8 p.m. to present and discuss possible changes to the off-leash area (OLA) at Dr. Jose Rizal Park. The meeting will be at Jefferson Community Center, 3801 Beacon Ave. S.

The construction of the nearby Mountains to Sound Trail has provided an opportunity to reconfigure areas of the park including the OLA. In the proposed changes, the OLA would be reduced in size and fenced, to provide a buffer between the dog area and bicycle traffic. However, all of the property within the OLA would be usable, which is not the case with the current site.

The proposal is not without controversy. “Save our off-leash area!” reads a headline on Frieda Adams’ “Friends of Jose Rizal Off-Leash Area” website, which contains commentary about the proposed changes, and a petition form to keep the OLA at its current size.

Adams is not in favor of Parks’ proposed changes to the site footprint, and suggests that the city is shrinking the site because of low attendance and perceived vulnerability to crime in the area: “Whether low attendance is due to fear, whether it’s due to neglect on the part of the Parks Department and COLA, whether it’s true that nobody is using the site—these are all considerations the City must take into account before scrapping the off-leash area’s original concept.”

Those interested in the future of the park and of the OLA should attend Thursday’s meeting, where Parks’ plan will be presented in full.


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