Sick Volunteer Park coyote ‘removed’ — Sightings continue in Interlaken Park?

Image: via Capitol Hill Seattle Blog

Image: via capitolhillseattle.com

CHS and King 5 report that USDA wildlife officials today shot and killed a coyote showing signs of mange that had been roaming around Volunteer Park. From CHS:

UPDATE: 3:30 PM: A USDA spokesperson tells CHS that the coyote has been killed. “I understand that the ill coyote has been found and removed.  No additional information is available at this time.” the brief statement reads. We were told the agent searching for the coyote was not on the Hill this afternoon but have not confirmed details of what agency was ultimately responsible for ending the hunt and killing the coyote believed to be suffering from mange.

Montlake Forum commenters have posted coyote sightings as recently as today, including in or near Interlaken Park. It is worth noting that Seattle Parks has recently confirmed a pack of healthy coyotes living around North Capitol Hill — so there are likely others in the area apart from the animal put down today.

Seattle Parks tells us that the search has turned up a healthy family of coyotes living near Volunteer Park — a good sign for the local ecology. “It’s great that a family of coyotes is making a good living in the area. They keep the rat and rabbit populations in check,” a Parks spokesperson tells CHS.

Owner spots stolen auto, gives chase

Image (and whereabouts): unknown

This morning while heading to work, a neighbor spotted his Subaru Outback, stolen two days ago, driving down 23rd Ave E. Giving chase while calling police, he followed the car back toward Montlake and through the Arboretum. After an erratic turn at E. Miller and an unfortunate U-turn stalled by a box truck, grand theft auto got away. Police arrived moments later to set up a containment zone — but to no avail.

Keep an eye out for a 2011 silver Outback with Yakima ski rack, plate #AFV7367 — and call 911 if you see it.

Arboretum holiday sale: Gifts & greens galore

Highclere holly. Image: © Roger Darlington

The Arboretum Foundation’s holiday sale and fundraiser is December 7th & 8th, offering sustainably harvested wreaths, eco-friendly swags and garlands, and plenty of non-invasive Highclere holly. The event also includes a full cornucopia of do-it-yourself decoration demos. On the program:

This year, we’re be featuring lots of DIY demonstrations and craft activities throughout the two-day event. On Friday at 1 p.m., author and outdoor living expert Debra Prinzing will show shoppers how to create beautiful holiday centerpieces using seasonal, locally grown materials; Northwest lifestyle and entertaining expert Alexandra Hedin will give a demo on Saturday at 11 a.m. about unique ways fresh greens can be used for the holidays; Sue Mariotti of The Terrarium Shop on Etsy will show you how to build a miniature terrarium (so hot right now!) on Friday, from 2 to 4 p.m., and Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Foundation volunteer craft specialists and educators from UW Botanic Gardens will also host show-and-tell activities during the event.

Miniature terrariums!

Live blogging the City Council 520 design hearing

The City Council’s Special Committee on SR-520 Project meets today with WSDOT’s Community Design team. The goal of the meeting is for WSDOT to present feedback from this fall’s public comment period and for councilmembers to review the design process. Here we go…

11:08: Public comments done. Always interesting…

CM Conlin: City budget funds studies of the Montlake Mess. Next meeting will be Jan 22nd at 2:30pm.

11:12 Julie Meredith and Kerry Pihlstrom presenting for WSDOT.

11:13 WSDOT: We are confident we can resolve pontoon construction issues.

11:15 WSDOT will host January open house of “Lake to Land Plan.” This plan is consistent with construction phasing in EIS.

11:18 Recently reduced budget shortfall of $1.4 billion still includes all original project elements, including second bascule bridge.

11:22 CM Conlin requests more intuitive information access on WSDOT website. Yes.

11:27 WSDOT received significant feedback – 1,607 responses.

11:28 Bike and pedestrian access was a major topic of feedback.

11:30 We look forward to working with the Seattle Bike Master Plan.

11:31 Significant feedback for new 30-foot wide ped crossing over I-5 at Roanoke. –Yes, hello Eastlake!

11:33 Portage Bay Bridge Trail would require additional study of environmental impacts.

11:35 CM Licata: Are you moving forward on that study or waiting for additional feedback? WSDOT: Still looking at our options.

11:38 WSDOT: “PBBT would be a change. We want to hear from Council.”

11:41 CM Licata: Conflicting goals for PBBridge: minimum width + ped/bike connectivity. WSDOT: We are open to adding PBBT. CM Conlin: WSDOT needs to hear from us on this issue.

11:45 CM Rasmussen: How tall would a cable stay bridge be across Portage Bay? WSDOT: 180 feet.

11:48 Over 1,000 public comments in support of trail on Portage Bay Bridge.

11:50 We haven’t done our best with non-motorized connections on Montlake Blvd… tried to preserve Olmsted blvd.

11:54 CM Bagshaw: What are next steps to ensure this area is user friendly for bikes and pedestrians? WSDOT: We do our best when we collaborate with local departments.

11:55 West Approach Bridge construction begins in June 2014. — So folks, no floating bridge to nowhere…

11:58 CM Conlin: Thanks for working with us.

12:00 One more thing. CM Rasmussen: What do we have to do to transfer Ramp to Nowhere lands to the Arboretum? WSDOT: After construction is done, it’s a possibility.

Poll: Rats!

Image: Flickr: Kris *V*

A reader wants know:

How many of you have ever received city complaints about rats in your backyard? We who live under Interlaken Park cannot NOT have rats. I use 5 electronic traps, and 2 rat motels, plus poison in many hidden places. I JUST started using a sprung rat trap. Oh, I felt SO BAD when it killed the sweet bird that has been hopping around on the ground for several years. The rats seem to learn so quickly, I never see any in the electronic nor motel traps. No animal nor human food is out.
Well folks, there’s only one way to solve this…

Pre-order holiday trees from Elementary School PTA by Nov 28th + get pancakes

Tree sale to benefit Montlake Elementary School PTA

Update: Order deadline extended…

Montlake Elementary invites you to purchase your holiday season trees and wreaths from us to support your local school while decorating for the season. All proceeds from this fun community event go directly to the Montlake PTAto benefit our students. Trees include Sheared Douglas Fir, Natural Noble Fir and Natural Grand Fir in many sizes. Also available are Noble Fir wreaths and swags as well as Cedar/Douglas Fir garlands.Trees and garlands are pre-sold only and order form and payment must be submitted no later than Friday, November 16 Wednesday, November 28th. An order form is available here.You will be able to pick up your tree and garland at the school on Saturday, December 8 between 11 am and 2 pm. Come early and enjoy a Pancake Breakfast beginning at 10 am.

Via Montlake PTA

Originally posted November 10, 2012

Public comments for Seattle 520 design reveal overwhelming support for better bike/ped access

Portage Bay Bridge Trail: 97% in favor. Image: WSDOT

WSDOT has released its Public Comment Summary for the SR-520 Seattle Community Design Process as the City Council prepares its response to the project. Over 1,600 survey responses, emails and letters were received and tallied. Shockingly, there is overwhelming consensus on several key design issues, a true rarity for Seattle transportation projects. A few highlights from the comment report:

  • Portage Bay Bridge Trail: 1298 out of 1339 commenters in support continuing the 520 Bridge regional trail from Montlake to Roanoke and I-5 via the Portage Bay Bridge. That’s 97% consensus.
  • Montlake Blvd: 1028 out of 1102 commenters support improvements to pedestrian, bicycle and transit improvements along both sides of Montlake Blvd. That’s 93% strong.
  • Bike/Ped Crossing at I-5 & Roanoke: 1146 out of 1245 commenters favor a 30-foot wide pedestrian and bicycle bridge over Interstate 5. That’s 92%.

A little deeper into the weeds, the report states:

Requests that the entire [East Montlake] lid design and configuration be re-examined to provide improved bicycle and pedestrian connectivity in key areas and all directions.

Support to develop a mobility hub that includes transit, bicycle and pedestrian facilities, safe connections to and from the lid, and space for active uses.

Safety concerns for connections made under bridge structures.

WSDOT’s Community Design Team will present their public comment findings to the Seattle City Council on Monday. The Council then has until January to pass a resolution stating its design preferences for the 520 replacement project. WSDOT has repeatedly said they want to follow the City’s lead on local design decisions, but on issues with overwhelming public support, expect the Council to follow the will of the people. When do 9 out of 10 Seattleites agree on anything?!

Read the full report here.

WSDOT-wiki vs KOMO-leaks: What to know regarding 520 pontoon cracks *UPDATED*

Media tour inside a new 520 Bridge pontoon. Image: WSDOT Flickr stream

Since KOMO started reporting on construction problems with the new 520 Bridge, WSDOT has started a media campaign to put to rest public fears about leaky pontoons. State Secretary of Transportation Paula Hammond is confident that these first six pontoons will be repaired and has said, “We won’t accept the pontoons from our contractors until we are satisfied they meet contract specifications.” And yet, Governor Christine Gregoire is taking no chances: she has called for an independent panel of experts to review the project.

For background, a summary of KOMO’s reports:

  • October 26: All six of the first pontoons have “extensive cracking” and delays could cost the State $90,000 per day.
  • November 1: The 360-foot longitudinal pontoons are missing steel reinforcing (aka “hook bars”) at the end joints that link them together.
  • November 9: Internal documents from WSDOT engineers raise more red flags; videos and documents posted online.

WSDOT responded by publishing a website dedicated to 520 construction issues, kicking off a Wikileaks style arms race for transparency, including:

  • KOMO’s full 25-minute interview with Paula Hammond + email correspondence.
  • 45 hours of pontoon inspection videos.
  • Highlights from a November 14th media tour of the pontoons + press release on repairs and structural omissions.

Sensational cover up? Or the fog of bridge building? Even local media seem to have conflicting reports on this one. On November 13th (the day before WSDOT’s media tour), The Seattle Times reported WSDOT’s progress in repairing cracks in the pontoons’ outer walls was all good news:

The big end-piece W, where columns are being built, was still seeping after it reached Lake Washington, according to an Aug. 27 [contractor] Kiewit letter to DOT.

Since then, all known cracks in the outer walls have been treated, said DOT project manager Julie Meredith. “The fact (water) it’s not coming through those cracks now is a very good sign,” she said Friday, while walking on a lengthwise pontoon.

The next day, KOMO reporter Tracy Vedder tweeted:

WSDOT confirms 4 biggest pontoons still leaking

Sigh.

It’s unclear if Vedder was referring to outer wall leaks or internal wall leaks. During construction, the pontoons’ interior cells hold water for ballast which will eventually be replaced with gravel — so interior wall cracks are less critical than exterior cracks.

And now there’s more…

Tonight KOMO will air an interview with a former WSDOT quality control inspector who says the 520 Bridge project is a “disaster waiting to happen.” They also have uncovered a state audit that further confirms problems with the pontoons’ integrity. WSDOT has preemptively posted an email response to KOMO regarding their (as of now) anonymous source:

We just don’t know enough about this person’s previous role on the pontoon project to respond in a meaningful way to the assertions he (based on your verbal description) has made.

It is important for you and KOMO to understand and convey to your audience that there is a rigorous quality program in place at the pontoon project as required by the WSDOT contract with Kiewit-General.

Preemptive media control — and hype — aside, the interview airs tonight at 11pm.

UPDATE: November 20

KOMO’s full report and interview from last night are posted here.

And today, KOMO’s crack reporting continued. They have confirmed that the second batch of pontoons under construction in Aberdeen have also shown extensive cracking, before they’ve even left the casting basin. These “cycle 2″ cracks are in precast interior wall panels which are less critical than the exterior walls, yet still, WSDOT Kiewit has rejected several of them as unfit for pontoon duty.

UPDATE: November 21

Today WSDOT released the following explanation for “cycle 2″ pontoon cracks:

Crews working in Aberdeen on cycle 2 of the pontoons for the new State Route 520 floating bridge have completed construction of 345 pre-cast concrete wall panels. Contractor Kiewit-General has rejected nine of these walls as part of their quality assurance and quality control processes required by the Washington State Department of Transportation in its pontoon contract.

These nine panels had not yet been installed inside the pontoons. They were discarded and new concrete panels were poured. Of the nine panels discarded, three exceeded the contractual limits for cracking and six were rejected due to a duct alignment issue. Approximately 90 percent of the panels have been placed to date.

Again, it should be noted that these wall panels are for interior cells and are not part of the (more critical) exterior pontoon walls. A primer on interior wall leaks is available here.

On the shelf at the Little Free Library

20121118-230741.jpg
Did you know Montlake has a People’s Library? Following the concept of book share that went mainstream with last year’s Occupy protests, People’s Libraries have sprung up all over Seattle. Montlake has one, the “Little Free Library,” near 22nd & McGraw. Consider this photo its online catalog:

20121118-232612.jpgImages: Montlaker