Photo by Jerry Gay

At last, Ballard secedes

Finally, after over a century of disgruntlement, Ballard has seceded from the city of Seattle.

"Quite frankly, I couldn't be happier," said Warren Aakervik, owner of Ballard Oil. "If Ballard was a part of Seattle any longer, the Mayor would've put an arena right in Old Ballard. Our industrial area is vital to Ballard and the region as a whole."

The campaign for secession was led by Catherine Weatbrook, president of the Ballard District Council. After BDC unanimously passed a motion to send a letter to the City Council and Mayor Mike McGinn asking for permission to secede, Weatbrook was the one who personally handcrafted the letter.

"RapidRide was the last straw," she said. "When they gave us that instead of light rail and even had the gall to say that it would be faster than the buses before, I nearly lost it ... (here she lets loose a flurry of obscenities about the Seattle elite)."

Ballard could not officially secede without the approval of the City Council. But, with the neighborhood having long outlasted its original usefulness to Seattle, councilmembers were generally willing to grant Ballardites their freedom.

In a 6-1 vote, the City Council approved secession. Councilmembers Tim Burgess and Bruce Harrell abstained because they didn't want to lose support for their mayoral campaigns. Mike O'Brien, the lone "No" vote, cited that his wife Julie Bolton O'Brien's business Firefly Kitchens would be a disappointing loss for the city of Seattle.

"Have you had her ruby red kraut?" he said. "Seriously, guys. Come on."

It's no secret that Ballardites have long been discontent living in the shadow of Seattle. When they annexed in 1907, it was only out of necessity, as their water supply proved to be unreliable and unclean.

The Ballard News-Tribune recently uncovered a long-lost campaign button in the Nordic Heritage Museum with the popular slogan, "Well, I guess we have to drink water, but we still don't have to like Seattle."

Of course, the water problem will come up once again, when the city of Seattle cuts off access to the Cedar River Watershed.

But this time, Ballard has a plan.

"Well, we got all these rain gardens and cisterns," said Jenny Heins, president of Sustainable Ballard. "I figure we can build a treatment plant, redirect the water from them and make it drinkable again. That way we will both preserve the Puget Sound and smartly reuse a precious, dwindling resource. Ba-da-bing, ba-da-boom."

She also mentioned plans to power the city of Ballard strictly with solar, as they will be cut off from City Light's power grid.

In the business sector, everyone seems pleased with the arrangement.

"Now Seattle can stop taking credit for our popular and critically acclaimed restaurants," said the duo Nathan Opper and Zak Melang, owners of the Matador, Kickin' Boot Whiskey Kitchen and the newly opened Ballard Annex Oyster House. "Ballard can finally get its, uh, just desserts."

Ballard brewers were also optimistic.

"If its two things Seattleites like, its bicycles and beer," said David Keller, co-owner of Peddler Brewing Co. "I like to think we have that formula down."

"Nothing's gonna change. Hipsters flock to us like flies to a turd," said Ryan Hilliard, co-owner of Hilliard's Beers, whose canned beers have officially passed the irony test.

In preparation for the secession, developers have already started gearing up to build more high-rise condominiums and apartments. As of press time, 15 new cranes have been spotted on the Ballard skyline.

"We predict a sort of great migration from Seattle to Ballard," said developer Bill Parks, whose project "Ballard Lofts" on 24th Ave NW and NW 65th St has garnered much controversy. He still wouldn't comment on whether The Viking tavern would stay.

AVA Apartments decided to add another floor to the top of their building to celebrate the secession.

"We're thinking about putting Sunset Bowl on that floor," AVA Apartment officials said. "We'll get back to you on that though."

Plans are already underway to rebuild the Ballard Town Hall at the original location on the intersection of 22nd Ave NW and Ballard Ave NW. Rob Mattson, Ballard's neighborhood district coordinator, has been appointed as the first mayor of the city of Ballard.

Stock in Archie McPhee's "Free Ballard" bumper stickers has risen dramatically.

Zachariah Bryan can be reached at zachb@robinsonnews.com

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