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.
The fences came down yesterday at the Jefferson Park Skatepark — it’s now fully open to skate! According to Seattle Parks and Recreation, “The new park features the deepest bowl in Seattle, with shallower bowls alongside, a hexagonal elevated dish, great street features and lighting. The skatepark also features one of the best views of Seattle.”
The park was designed by Grindline Skateparks Inc., in collaboration with The Berger Partnership and with input from several community meetings. It was funded by the Parks and Green Spaces Levy which contributed $1,000,000. SubPop Records contributed an additional $10,000.
The Jefferson Park Skatepark is located at 3801 Beacon Ave. S., behind the Jefferson Community Center.
Also of interest to Beacon Hill skaters is the Benefit Park Skatedot, which is currently in the design phase.
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:
Beacon Hill is a great place for people of all ages and features many opportunities for entire families to have a great time. Here are a few ideas to get you started—please share your favorite places/activities in the comments!
ROCKiT Space is thriving after the relaunch in January. Headquarters are now in the Garden House at 2336 15th Ave. S. (directly behind Baja Bistro; parking in the alley, on street or just walk there) and events are happening there and all over Beacon Hill.
High Chair Happy Hour happens every third Tuesday (the next ones are on April 19 and May 16) from 3:30-6:30 p.m. BYOB (baby/bigger kid). It’s good, cheap fun on Beacon Hill: $5, or free for ROCKiT members. No alcohol sold, but you’re welcome to bring your own (as well as other food/drink) to share. Must be accompanied by a minor to attend.
Tots Jam, a ROCKiT Space favorite, is held at El Centro every Wednesday at 9 a.m. Bring your toddler and $5 (free for members) and rock with Suzanne.
The Beacon Hill library has story times for toddlers, preschoolers, and the whole family. Toddler story time, Spanish story time, and Bilingual Kaleidoscope are only a few of the choices.
Thanks to our neighbors’ successful efforts to improve the parks on Beacon Hill, we have three (3!) awesome new playgrounds on Beacon Hill.
The play area at Jefferson Park has been open for several months. Don’t let the fences surrounding the future Beacon Mountain deter you—head over and check out the many ways your kids (and you) can climb, swing, hang and rock. Several refreshment options are available in the south end of our business district, including the Jefferson Park Field House, Victrola 3 and El Quetzal (now serving beer; just sayin’).
Jefferson Park also boasts a fantastic indoor playground on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Inflatables, riding toys, push toys, balls, and tons of other ways for toddlers to tire themselves are available for only $2!
Santos Rodriguez Memorial Park at El Centro de La Raza is now open to the public (closed during posted hours to protect the safety of the children enrolled in programs on site) and features new playground equipment for a variety of ages. Amenities such as benches for parents and a permanent chess board are in the works. I highly recommend a visit to The Station (directly across the street) before or after your park visit.
Beacon Hill Playground has new play structures, too! Swings, slides, a secure tunnel, and other fun await at our northernmost playground.
I’m sure I”m missing something—please share your ideas/events in the comments!
It’s been a while since we posted Beacon Bits, so we’ve got some catching up to do. With no further ado, here goes!
* * *
Beacon Hill International Elementary School will have a new principal in the fall of 2011. The current principal, Dr. Susie Murphy, is retiring and will be replaced by Kelly Aramaki, currently the principal at John Stanford International School (JSIS). While at JSIS last year, Aramaki won the $25,000 Milken Educator Award, given to promising young educators. (See this article by BHB news partners The Seattle Times for more information.) For the last two years, JSIS was named as a “School of Distinction” by the State Office of the Superintendent, an honor to mark schools that score in the top five percent on standardized math and reading tests.
* * *
Bounce your way down to Jefferson Community Center on Friday, April 8 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. for Bounce Fest! The event promises a family fun event with bounce toys, jumping games, double dutch and more. Admission is $2 per child. Jefferson Community Center is located at 3801 Beacon Avenue South.
* * *
Speaking of festivals, plan ahead for El Centro de la Raza’s Sixth Annual Cinco de Mayo Celebration, to be held on Thursday, May 5 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at El Centro, 2524 16th Avenue South. The event will include traditional Mexican foods for sale, children’s activities, arts and crafts from local vendors, a health and services fair, and dance and musical performances. Admission is free, but donations are welcomed. For more information, call 206-957-4649 or email email@example.com.
Beacon Hill artists are among those participating in Artists For Japan, an art sale to benefit relief efforts in Japan. The sale is on Saturday, March 26 from 12 noon to 8 p.m., and again on Sunday, March 27 from 12 noon until 5 p.m. All artwork has been donated, no commissions are being paid, and all event costs are donated. All funds raised will be donated directly to the International Red Cross.
For more information including a list of participating artists, see the website. (Thanks to Beacon Hill artist Elizabeth Jameson for sending us the heads-up on this one, and for helping to organize the event.)
* * *
Your opinions are wanted! Seattle Parks and Recreation is planning for the future by updating the Parks and Recreation Development Plan. Part of this process is identifying what should be prioritized, with the input of park users. To do this, the department is holding meetings, and hosting an online survey to get your opinions.
Mea culpa, we missed that there was a meeting right here on Beacon Hill on Wednesday. But there is another, in the North End, next Wednesday evening at Bitter Lake Community Center, 13035 Linden Avenue North. For more information about the meeting and an overview of the process, see the website.
El Centro de la Raza is offering Spanish classes again from April 12 until June 9. Classes are taught by professional native Spanish speakers in an
interactive community-based setting. Class fee is $300, and class sessions will be Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. For information, call 206-957-4605 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
* * *
Last, a nice and neighborly story from Jessica De Barros we’ve been meaning to post since last month:
Just wanted to share a good BH neighbor story—this morning I accidentally left my bank card in the BofA cash machine on Beacon Ave, and returned from a long day of skiing to a Facebook message from John at Kabayan Karinderya (the Filipino restaurant across from Valero) that he’d found my card. I was able to walk just a few blocks to get it from a good neighbor! Kudos to John and Kabayan Karinderya for being such great BH neighbors.
Even in this off season inclement winter weather, work is going on in little Lewis Park. Crews have been busy removing the invasive laurel and ivy plants and putting in ground cover to prevent erosion in the ravines. Further, a crew has been working with the foundation for the eventual kiosk along 15th Avenue South at the 14th Street “Y.” To be completed by mid-January. More ground cover/compost material will be spread on the upper south area of the park on MLK day, January 17th.
There is still much work to be done in the lower east side of the park, with further removal of invasive plants, but planting of native plant species will begin in early spring, when we will look forward to more people in our neighborhood, and groups will volunteer to help with this worthwhile renewal project that will make Lewis Park the jewel entrance to Beacon Hill from the city.
This year’s event starts at at Dr. Jose Rizal Park on Saturday, January 15, from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. Volunteers will continue work to reclaim the forest area of the park, including mulching, planting trees and other native species, and doing trail maintenance. You can sign up to participate here.
Craig Thompson reports news about orchard projects in area parks:
On January 22, Saturday, 10:30 – 12:30 am, City Fruit will conduct a training class for volunteers working on the orchard projects it has selected as part of a city-wide program. It will be held at the Jefferson Community Center, and is open to all who wish to volunteer on these projects. The orchard at Dr. Jose Rizal Park was selected as a model, sustainable, organic orchard for Seattle.
The fruit tree steward workshop will address basic tree biology (why are roots so important?), orchard management month by month, and basic orchard safety (how not to fall off a ladder). Our instructor is Ingela Wanerstrand, owner of Green Darner Garden Design. She specializes in edibles, has been working with fruit trees for more than 15 years, is an active Friend of Piper’s Orchard in Carkeek Park, and is a wonderful teacher.
Come February 19, City Fruit will hold a pruning workshop for stewards in the orchard at Dr. Jose Rizal Park. Significant work has been done in the orchard area over the last six months, including brush removal, initial pruning, typing, and even a small harvest of winesaps. A gate has been put in at the southeast corner of the off-leash area fence, just off the access trail. With the Mountains to Sound Greenway project going through the park this year, the OLA will be reconfigured, so more forest will be added to the woods, and the orchard will become a separate feature for the park.
Dee Dunbar and Vinh Nguyen sent along some information about recent activities in Lewis Park at the north tip of Beacon Hill:
Here is an update of activities at Lewis Park:
The Lewis Park Steering Committee applied for, and was awarded a Department of Neighborhoods Small and Simple Neighborhood Matching Grant to hire a geotechnical firm to do an analysis of the steep slope areas in Lewis Park. The North Beacon Hill Council served as Fiscal Sponsor for the grant. Geotechnical firms were researched and a Request for Qualifications was prepared and submitted. A committee was formed to review proposals and select the best-qualified firm. A contract was signed with Terra Associates, Inc. who performed the geological study. The study included a visual site reconnaissance, on-site exploration, and review of all available geologic documentation. The study concluded the steep slope areas of Lewis Park are stable enough to perform site activities associated with native plant restoration, however, it cautioned that erosion-control measures be conducted concurrently with the restoration. Parks and Recreation reviewed the report and will incorporate the results in restoration plans for Lewis Park. Please let us know if you would like an electronic copy of the full report.
In addition to the geological study, the DON grant also paid for several crew days from Earthcorps and the King County Corrections Work Program. These crews worked in areas to support and supplement the volunteer activity occurring on the level areas of Lewis Park.. During the grant period, volunteers contributed over 1,400 hours at Lewis Park. These volunteers planted 1,124 native shrubs, groundcover and trees, and maintained the newly restored areas by watering, weeding, and applying erosion control and mulch. Volunteers continue to restore the more level areas of Lewis Park each Sunday from February through November. Gloves, tools, water and light snacks are provided and volunteers can participate any time between 9:00 am and 1:00 pm for as long as they want. Kids are welcome!
Friends of Lewis Park want to thank all the volunteers and community support that has made this spot on North Beacon Hill a much safer and beautiful place. We encourage everyone to come and enjoy the restored areas of Lewis Park and are excited about the future when all 4.5 acres will be restored back to a Natural Area for our community to enjoy a peaceful urban forest of native plants and wildlife.
The Fasano family, however, is not interested in selling. A letter sent by Joseph Fasano’s son Mark Fasano to BRIC and to the Beacon Hill Blog on Monday states flatly: “The property is not currently for sale nor do you have any permission to begin moving forward on any project regarding this property. Our family has occupied this property for over 71 years and plan to continue residing at this property for generations to come.” The letter also says that the family has obtained legal representation, and asks that all submissions and funding requests for the project be retracted immediately.
Mark Fasano tells us that the family’s roots on Beacon Hill are very deep, and the Walker Street property has starred in a lot of memories. “I grew up in the house and on this property, so all of my childhood memories revolved around the house and playing in the woods along with my two brothers. My oldest brother lives on the other side of the cul-de-sac. My father has lived there since he was four, so all of his childhood is there as well. The home has always been the gathering place for all holidays and family functions.” The Fasanos want to keep the property in family hands.
According to Fasano, the owners were never formally contacted to discuss the sale of the property. “My father was out walking when a neighbor stopped to talk, and in that conversation among other topics he said ‘You should put a park here. What do you think about that idea?’ My father replied in jest, as he thought he was joking, ‘that would be interesting but I don’t think my wife would approve.’ He was just talking to a neighbor having small talk conversations. He never in a million years thought he was trying to get information to get something started like this.” The family did not find out about the project, says Fasano, until a friend emailed to tell them about the May 28 post in the BHB.
If the Fasanos aren’t interested in selling, the Walker Street park is not likely to happen. The park proposal acknowledges that the property is owned by Joseph Fasano, and that acquisition would depend on agreement with the owner; if the owner does not want to sell, the property is unavailable for the project.
This may change the fortunes of the Beacon Hill Central Park project, which was scored highly in the Opportunity Fund project assessment process, but was ranked lower than the Walker Street Park proposal.
(We contacted BRIC for comments on the situation but were unable to get a response in time for this story. We hope to have a follow-up with more information soon.)