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 Timeswrites 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.”
Art Thiel at Sports Press NWcomments 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 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.
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.
The proposed reconfiguration of the Jose Rizal Park Off-Leash Area was not presented at last night’s North Beacon Hill Council meeting as was previously scheduled. Instead, Brenda Kramer from Seattle Parks and Recreation announced that there will be a public meeting held on October 20 at Jefferson Community Center to discuss the new plan.
Kramer told the neighbors in attendance, including a quite a few who were there to protest the proposed park shrinkage, that the plan for the Off-Leash Area (OLA) is currently being redesigned and Parks wants input from park users.
Several neighbors did speak up at the meeting to express their wish to keep the Off-Leash Area large. One neighbor said that other OLAs are small, and the Jose Rizal Park OLA is “a jewel” for the city because of its larger size. She added that dog parks are amenities to a neighborhood that are equivalent to light rail stations or grocery stores.
Another neighbor added: “You have a duty as a city to provide canine infrastructure. Unfortunately, the Olmsted Brothers did not forsee that need.”
Kramer, Deputy Mayor Darryl Smith, and other city representatives in attendance emphasized that those interested in the dog park should attend the October 20 meeting to provide input. The meeting will most likely be from 7-8 p.m., but stay tuned to the Beacon Hill Blog for further information as the date draws closer.
The North Beacon Hill Council meeting, usually the first Thursday of the month, was delayed until this week because of the library’s closure. This month’s meeting will be held on Thursday, September 8, at 7 p.m. at the Beacon Hill Library meeting room. As always, NBHC meetings are open to all interested neighbors. The Beacon Hill Library is located at 2821 Beacon Ave. S.
7:05 Deputy Mayor Darryl Smith, and other city officials, will ask for community input and ideas for the Duwamish Greenbelt Area, which includes the newly finished Mountain to Sound Trail, and the off leash area at Jose Rizal Park
Seattle Parks and Recreation staff will attend the North Beacon Hill Council meeting at 7:30 p.m. on September 8 at the Beacon Hill library to present a proposed configuration for the off-leash area at Dr. Jose Rizal Park. The meeting is open to the public, and all are invited to provide input on the proposal.
In response to the construction of the Mountains to Sound Greenway bicycle/pedestrian trail along the western edge of the park, and to concerns about the perception of safety in the area, Seattle Parks proposes to reduce the size of the Rizal Park off-leash area, currently 5 acres. Since Amazon.com moved from Beacon Hill to South Lake Union, the use of the off-leash area has dropped. The area’s proximity to “The Jungle” has also contributed to a lack of use of the current space.
Neighbor Joseph writes, “Can you help finding an owner for this dog? He hangs out around 12th and Massachusetts. He seems to be friendly and I am sure he lives near by so if anyone knows who he belongs to, I have an extra leash!”
Seattle does have a leash law which requires dogs to be on-leash at all times when on public property, except at off-leash areas. There is an off-leash area on North Beacon Hill at Dr. Jose Rizal Park.
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!
Volunteers are needed on Saturday afternoon to help improve the Dr. Jose Rizal Park off-leash area. Craig Thompson writes with the details:
Saturday, May 22, a Seattle Works team will help construct a barricade around the wet spot downhill from the spigot in the Dr. Jose Rizal Park off-leash area. This is the fourth year in a row that a team has celebrated Seattle Works Day at the park.
We chose this project as we learned from several people that they don’t bring dogs to the OLA because of the wet spot—dogs roll in the mud, have to be washed, etc.
The event Saturday starts at noon and lasts till 4:00 pm, with setup beginning around 11:00 am. We have all tools we need, but we could use more people, as we’ll be moving a brush pile from the bench/view area to the wet spot. We’ll also be planting salmon berries within the barrier, as they’ll provide a natural barrier to the site once the brush decomposes in a few years, plus salmon berries are heavenly. There’s a huge party after the event—details and location are at the Seattle Works website.