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Belltown Messenger #81 - July 2010 - "Belltown Life"

Big and little things that make a difference
What's New In Belltown

Enough of the goings-away, the stores closing, the restaurants moving out, the high-rise apartment tower condemned and in the process of being vacated (pending legal actions).

Let’s talk about what we’ve got in Belltown. And what we’re getting.

We remain the most densely populated neighborhood in the state.

We’ve got a dynamic juxtaposition of classes and subcultures.

We’ve got the Market, the Center, the Hill, the Waterfront, and the downtown core at our borders.

We’ve got active groups of residents and merchants working to improve and enhance this neighborhood AS a neighborhood, as a place to truly live in.

And we’re getting some new amenities in the area.

Starting out, the two-year rehab/remodel of Fire Station #2 is almost complete. Seattle’s oldest operating fire station was built in 1921 and last upgraded in 1987. It’s now spiffied up outside and all reworked inside.

You’re saying that’s nice; as a taxpayer, you appreciate essential upkeep on a vital public facility. But what else is in it specifically for you?

The Belltown Bell, that’s what!

Our neighborhood finally has a civic icon that belongs to all of us. (The Elephant Car Wash sign is a classic, but it’s not exactly OUR classic.)

It’s not only an eponymous icon, it’s a historic one.

As the plaque that goes with it says, it was “from Station No. 4 located at 4th and Battery Street in the 1800s prior to the first Denny Regrade.” The bell could be heard as far away as ten miles. You won’t get to test this claim. With the way it’s been mounted onto its concrete pedestal, striking it will only produce a dull thud.

So that’s not a practical improvement. New, wider sidewalks on Third Avenue are. Third has traditionally not had the foot traffic First and Second attract. This might help that out, and bring us some viable street-oriented retail in the process.

The Bell Street Park Boulevard will help this further. As we’ve discussed previously, this will really widen the sidewalks on Bell from First to Fifth Avenues, leaving one lane of traffic and one lane of parallel parking.
Planning has come by quickly on this one. There’s no room in this project for standard “Seattle Process” dillying around. That’s because its budget is dependent upon piggybacking it with already-scheduled work. City Light intends to dig up and replace underground electrical wiring beneath Bell later this year.

One park amenity we’ve already got is the Olympic Sculpture Park. This summer, it’s more than a place to walk around and stare at some really big art. There’s a whole schedule of music, live art events, and temporary exhibits, culminating Sept. 11-12 with the Salmon Return Family Festival and Belltown Pet Parade.

Most of these events are free. One major exception is the “Party in the Park” on Friday, June 25. It costs $100 to get in for live bands (local legends Mudhoney and Sweet Water), DJs, food, and a hosted bar. (Tickets: seattleartmuseum.org/partyinthepark/.)

The Sculpture Park is at Belltown’s northwest end. At its southwest end, Victor Steinbrueck Park may be getting its own new sculpture. It would be a 13-foot bronze “tree of life,” memorializing homeless people who have died. The sculpture would be surrounded by a plaza and a planting bed. It’s been approved by the Parks Department and a city hearing examiner. It doesn’t yet have funding.

 –Clark Humphrey 


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