Peggy Sturdivant
An abundance of growth, but is it organic?

At Large In Ballard: Abundance

By Peggy Sturdivant

I need to get outside to pick tomatoes before the Labor Day weekend’s rainfall splits them open. Even without water the high temperatures of August have done their work in the garden, and in rising tempers over what happens on our increasingly precious land.

Seattle City Light is digging out the pad of the surplus former Sunset Hill substation. Meanwhile on 28th NW on the Loyal Heights Substation site sunflowers are blooming where the cherry trees were cut on Washington’s Birthday. With the end of summer comes an abundance of crops, events and contradictions.

Everyone flipped their calendar page on the same day and realized how much they want to cram in between September 1st and the end of the year, while wishing the election was already over. Grants awarded last September are wrapping up. The academic year for Seattle Public Schools will have new start times, to better support the circadian rhythms of puberty. Swanson’s assures everyone the koi are fine despite the electrical file and they’re setting out decorations for Halloween. The pharmacist at the Bartell Drugs on 24th NW says they will reopen by the library on October 9th.

Already there are too many activities for each weekday and weekend through the end of the month, and I didn’t even count Bumbershoot. It will be a busy week at the library’s Ballard Branch. There’s a King County Worksource Job on Thursday, September 8, 2016 and that night the It’s About Time Writers’ Reading Series #323 at 6 p.m. On Saturday it’s the return of Backyard Barter.

That weekend is nothing compared to the weekend of September 16-18, followed by a Design Review meeting on Monday September 19th about the proposed 65’ development planned for the Zesto’s/El Camion corner. Abundance, it’s not just the zucchini and tomatoes, the powdery mildew, proliferation of spiders and cube houses. It’s the flurry of events billed as the last; the last outdoor yoga at Ballard Commons, the last concert at the Locks. It’s lasts and firsts: kindergarten for some and the regrouping of a parent’s softball team that has now endured from kindergarten through high school graduation.

On that last official weekend of summer the City of Seattle’s Department of Transportation is once again participating in Park(ing) Day. For almost a decade the City of Seattle has been allowing organizations to take over a parking place to create a street park, many of them by design firms. Ballard Writers Collective, without the aid of a design firm, will be setting up for the 4th year on NW 64th & 32nd NW to create an outdoor reading room. Once again the “park” will offer free books and “Ask the Writer” feature. Every year Ballard Writers Collective connects with more writers and readers by putting themselves beside an arterial. Throughout the city others may set up this year for Friday and Saturday.
“Ask the Writer” and outdoor reading room will only be “open for business” on the Saturday, September 17, 2016, from 10-5 p.m.

Unfortunately staffing the park may cause me to miss the Ballard Civic Orchestra’s celebration of Mexican Independence Day at 2 p.m. at the Locks. The all ages BCO is a favorite of mine. As their new online newsletter predicted I am the average American who did not know to celebrate on September 17th. They will also perform on Monday, September 19th at Good Shepherd Center, but more on that conflict when we get to it.

As for Sunday, September 18th I will be sorely torn between the Loyal Heights Memorial Tree Walk starting at Loyal Heights Elementary (on NW 80th) and my Seattle Green Spaces Coalition meeting at the Southwest Branch of the library. Once again the choices provide a conflict of interest that I wish didn’t exist. Join Tree Ambassador Diana Gardiner in a walk that is a tribute to her late friend and co-founder Nancy Brown. Celebrate Loyal Heights remaining trees, before the contentious expansion of the school or work on planning how to get the city to revise the Tree Ordinance, and enforce it. How to balance development with keeping tree canopy? As Ballard resident and KUOW’s Joshua McNichol’s illustrated by way of radio and video report on the last horse farm in Rainier Valley, how can we know what needs to be saved until we know it’s there?

Or how can we try to preserve something before we know it’s on its way out? Which brings me to the southeast corner of NW 65th & 15th NW, Ballard’s ultimate arterial since the Ballard Bridge was completed. Since 1952 there has been a “fast food” restaurant just south of Ballard High School. The longtime owners have sold the parcel that was best known as Zesto’s with the car perched on the overhang. The site was purchased for development by Pryde Johnson, who have Hjarta, Soren and others in the area. El Camion is the current tenant and is safe for a while. I just wish the average person could learn about a property’s sale before the Early Design Review Guidance meeting, because by then property is sold and a proposed rezone (from 40’ to 65’ in this case), and design is far along at that stage.

So it is for the site across from Ballard High School’s south end. The Early Design Review Guidance meeting notice posted by the Ballard District Council on Facebook was how I learned about the proposed 65’ six-story apartment building planned for the site. Per the notice, “the Director will accept written comments to assist in the preparation of the early design guidance through September 19, 2016.” After that the public meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, September 19th when attendees can provide “comments regarding important site planning and design issues, which you believe, should be addressed in the design for this project.”

So an abundance of growth on city land; not all of it organic.

For more information on this sampling of events: 9.18.16, 4-6 p.m. Loyal Heights School 9.17.16, 2 p.m. Ballard Locks 9.17.16, 10-5 p.m. 64th & 32nd NW, Early Design Guidance Meeting. 9.19.16, 6:30 p.m. at Ballard Comm. Center

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