MOUNT BAKER HUB FEST: Function in the Junction! September 17 Festival with Extended Bicycle Sunday Returns To Mount Baker Hub.

Hope to see you Sunday, at the Mt Baker Station!

Friends of Mt. Baker Town Center

MOUNT BAKER HUB FEST JOINS SEATTLE DESIGN FESTIVAL SEPT 17, 2017

sdf-box2017.09.13 Poster with Sponsors

This Sunday September 17, 2017, the Mt Baker Hub Business Association features a set of local musicians, artists, and food vendors at the “Function in the Junction”.    

Exploring the “power” of place, the event celebrates the vision of the emerging Mt Baker Town Center.   The Mount Baker Hub Business Association has again joined with the Seattle Design Festival to focus on the amazing opportunity for a vibrant Town Center at Mt Baker Station.   This Link Station Area is unique, with key blocks surrounding the station primed to fulfill the North Rainier Neighborhood Plan, and the promise of a Town Center that will be sustainable economically, socially and environmentally.   IMG_8571Hub Fest is a FREE community festival on September 17th showcasing local artists through live music, food, art and community booths, and an Extended Bicycle…

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MOUNT BAKER HUB FEST: Function in the Junction! September 17 Festival with Extended Bicycle Sunday Returns To Mount Baker Hub.

MOUNT BAKER HUB FEST JOINS SEATTLE DESIGN FESTIVAL SEPT 17, 2017

sdf-box2017.09.13 Poster with Sponsors

 

This Sunday September 17, 2017, the Mt Baker Hub Business Association features a set of local musicians, artists, and food vendors at the “Function in the Junction”.    

Exploring the “power” of place, the event celebrates the vision of the emerging Mt Baker Town Center.   The Mount Baker Hub Business Association has again joined with the Seattle Design Festival to focus on the amazing opportunity for a vibrant Town Center at Mt Baker Station.   This Link Station Area is unique, with key blocks surrounding the station primed to fulfill the North Rainier Neighborhood Plan, and the promise of a Town Center that will be sustainable economically, socially and environmentally.   IMG_8571Hub Fest is a FREE community festival on September 17th showcasing local artists through live music, food, art and community booths, and an Extended Bicycle Sunday — linking the event to Beacon Hill via Cheasty Boulevard, and Lake Washington via Mt Baker Boulevard.  Mount Baker Hub Fest takes place Sunday, September 17th, between 11:30 am and 6:30 pm on the Mt. Baker Link and ArtSpace Plaza (2915 Rainier Ave S, Seattle, WA 98144).

The Function’s music line up includes:  INTEGRAL DJS; RAINBOWGORE CAKE; JEFF FORDE; AU COLLECTIVE; RELL BE FREE; TUESDAY; ARI GLASS; and THE M9.  See stage schedule for times.

In addition to the musical line up, the Festival will feature a variety of visual arts by local artists and ArtSpace residents; locally produced food; amenities for cyclists;  and fun for the whole family.

Visitors will also be able to learn the latest on the innovative Accessible Mount Baker project, which is scheduled to transform the Hub station area by 2021.  See Plan Section Views & Traffic Flow Simulation.

EXTENDED BICYCLE SUNDAY ROUTE:  As an added bonus, the City’s Bicycle Sunday will feature an Extended Route from Seward Park all the way to Beacon Hill, linking the neighborhoods and Hub Fest via the Olmsted Brother’s historic parkways.   The normal Lake Washington Boulevard closures will be in effect, and the extended route will travel along the relatively quiet Olmsted Parkways of Mount Baker Boulevard, and Cheasty Boulevard.

 

Group of people walking up ramp

The 2015 Hub Fest included an informative design installation on the pedestrian bridge!

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON HUB and the HUB FEST check out the websites:  www.mtbakerhub.org,   http://www.mountbakerhubfest.com and the facebook event page.  Or contact Taelore Rhoden at mountbakerhubfest@gmail.com

Additional Helpful Links:hub-logo

Facebook:

Mt. Baker Hub Business Association

https://www.facebook.com/Mt-Baker-Hub-Business-Association-1407437375939163/

Twitter:

@MtBakerHub https://twitter.com/MtBakerHub

Instagram:

@MtBakerHub https://www.instagram.com/mtbakerhub/

 

The Mount Baker Hub Business Association works to support the Mount Baker station area as a vibrant place to work, live, shop, and do business.  With support from the City’s Only in Seattle and Neighborhood Matching Fund programs, and a dedicated group of business owners and volunteers, the “Hub” serves as a steward for the district, providing inclusive programs and advocacy aimed at making the Mount Baker Hub a model transit-oriented community for businesses, residents, and visitors. 

Presented by Design in Public, the Seattle Design Festival is the region’s largest design event, bringing together the public, experts, business and city leaders to educate and promote an interdisciplinary public dialogue around the role of design in maintaining and enhancing the quality of life in Seattle. Please see the festival website for venue and event details: http://www.designinpublic.org/

#SDF2017

#DESIGNCHANGE

#MBHUBFEST

 

EVERY FIRST SATURDAY AT 9:30 am — JOIN US FOR OUR MONTHLY TOWN CENTER CLEANUP!!

By Anne Miller

Making a difference!

One of our Saturday cleanup groups, having fun and making a difference!

Please join us every first Saturday of the month for our First Saturday Neighborhood Cleanup!   We meet at 9:30 am at Mount Baker Neighborhood Center for the Arts, in the ArtSpace building by Mount Baker Link Station.

This is a fun opportunity to meet your neighbors, and make a difference cleaning local streets, including the area around the Mount Baker Town Center and volunteers will be able to choose where they want to focus their efforts. We will hand out supplies, provided by the city, at 9:30AM at Mount Baker Neighborhood Center for the Arts adjacent to the Mt. Baker Light Link Station. We will also be working with the City of Seattle Adopt A Street program to make sure that the bags we fill, will be picked up in a timely manner.

There is evidence that suggests that crimes are more likely to be committed in areas strewn with trash. (http://www.economist.com/node/12630201) So, if you are concerned about the garbage that litters our streets and

Group of people walking up ramp

A great chance to check out our informative design installation on the pedestrian bridge!

parks, please help clean up our neighborhood. Volunteers have been participating in monthly cleanups since January, but unfortunately this is an ongoing issue and we need your help. This is a simple and direct way to make a difference in our neighborhood and if you bring your kids, it is a great way to teach them about civic responsibility. High school students can also earn community service hours!

We will meet, rain or shine, at 9:30 AM.

I also want to let you know that there are now several groups in SE Seattle who have committed to First Saturday Neighborhood Cleanups and community service events. We are working together to spread the word about these efforts and to try and encourage participation. If you are interested in organizing a First Saturday Cleanup on your street or in your area, please contact me.

Please join us.

Thanks,
Anne Miller

annemiller2733@gmail.com

2015: “Mind the Gap” Installation Built a Bridge between Historic Neighborhood and Modern Urban Development

At last year’s Mount Baker Design Fest, the community focused on the topic of Design For Equity.   One of the questions focused on the aged pedestrian overpass that winds up and over the Rainier and MLK intersection:  Can government-built structures like bridges provide a canvas for social equity? Local Seattle designers took on this question by activating the Mount Baker pedestrian overpass with an installation for the 2015 Seattle Design Festival: Design for Equity. The installation, “Mind the Gap,” explored a literal bridge connecting historic Mount Baker to dense urban development taking place in the North Rainier Valley. The effort addresses equity gaps in accessibility, infrastructure, and culture that frequently follow transit-oriented development in historic neighborhoods, by creating a sense of place through little-known and culturally diverse local history. The result inspired cohesive community ownership on a deeper level.

Woman walking through plaza area of pedestrian bridge

The plaza level of the bridge includes wayfinding and bright colors to welcome pedestrians

The 40-year old Mount Baker pedestrian overpass, spanning the crossroads of Martin Luther King Jr. Way South and Rainier Avenue South in the Mount Baker neighborhood, is a bridge connecting cultures and resources. The Seattle Design Festival provided an opportunity for local design firms, JeppsonEGD and Penniless Projects, to temporarily transform the bridge into a venue that engages the community with inclusive stories uncovered during the recent “Mount Baker: Great Heights” neighborhood identity project.

Today’s urban village has been the stage for some of Seattle’s greatest moments and most profound heroes. Historically, this area is underpinned by the Olmstead plan for interconnected parks and boulevards intended to connect economically and culturally-diverse citizens from Beacon Hill to Mount Baker, and throughout the Rainier Valley.   This area was home to two legendary baseball stadiums, beautiful Franklin High School, and extraordinary individuals that made an impact on the world regardless of cultural background or personal challenges. These powerful, inspiring stories were the core of the 2015 installation.

Painted ground and banners on bridge

Inspirational stories and a colorful painted trail wind up the pedestrian bridge

Colorful wayfinding signage welcomed pedestrians and cyclists onto the bridge, reinforcing the Olmsted legacy connections. As students, commuters, and recreational users ascended the spiraling ramps, vibrant banners formed an outdoor gallery of inspirational neighborhood stories. All that cross were encouraged to read the stories and consider how they — as community members — can also help shape the future design of this dynamic area.

A related Seattle Design Festival panel discussion on local opportunities and challenges for equitable design occurred on September 21st. The panel included representatives from Southeast Effective Development (SEED), Friends of Mount Baker Town Center, Mount Baker Center for the Arts, Friends of Seattle’s Olmsted Parks, Seattle Department of Transportation, and community-oriented design firm Penniless Projects.

“Mind the Gap” was on public display through October 3, 2015.  The inspiring banners would be on display again in 2016, during the Mount Baker Hub Fest — September 18 and 19.

Group of people walking up ramp

Community members walk on the pedestrian bridge during the special tour and panel discussion


“Mind the Gap” was organized by JeppsonEGD and Penniless Projects. Sponsored by JeppsonEGD, Penniless Projects, Beacon Hill Merchants Association, with support from Friends of Mount Baker Town Center, Seattle Parks Foundation, and Artspace Mt. Baker Lofts. The project was made possible with partial funding by the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture and Seattle Department of Transportation Safe Routes to School.

About the Seattle Design Festival

The Seattle Design Festival features tours, exhibits, outdoor installations, activities, films, presentations, and more. The 2015 theme, Design for Equity, created pause and reflection. What is equity? What is equitable design? How do we know that a design is equitable? Is it process or product or both? It stretches across sectors – social justice, urban planning, ecology, and finance to name a few – and brings up ideas of dialogue, form, transparency, access, inclusion and investment. Design for Equity challenges us to question our biases and assumptions and inspire us to work toward ensuring that everyone in our society – from every background, ability, race, age, gender, location or economic status – can access the same opportunities and outcomes, both now and in the future.

About the “Mount Baker: Great Heights” community identity project

The stories featured in “Mind the Gap” were uncovered during the “Mount Baker: Great Heights” neighborhood identity project funded by a Federal Community Conerstones grant, in conjunction with the Seattle Office of Economic Development Only In Seattle program with facilitation from SEED and SEEDArts.  This project included participation by community, resident, alumni, and business stakeholders, via interviews and focus groups, as well as a comprehensive historical survey. The end product was a local map that highlights local amenities, businesses, and compelling, inclusive history. This design work is the inspiration for the story banners and additional decoration and wayfinding on the bridge.

The 2015 Seattle Design Festival Comes to the Mount Baker Town Center

Design for Equity Banner

Friends of Mount Baker Town Center is excited to host two citywide programs as part of the 2015 Seattle Design Festival! Focusing on this year’s theme — Design for Equity — we examine how equitable design can play a role in the Town Center’s evolution. For both events, contact Friends of Mount Baker Town Center for volunteer opportunities or participation, and a full listing of details will appear soon.


mural

Mount Baker Town Center Street Festival 2015
Sunday, September 20 | 11:30am – 6:00pm | Mount Baker Station and Artspace Mt. Baker Lofts (2915 Rainier Ave S, Seattle)

First up, we’ll be hosting a street festival centered around the Mount Baker Link light rail station. This free family-friendly event will include music, entertainment, food trucks, and art exhibits on the Sound Transit Plaza and inside the Artspace Mt. Baker Lofts Community Room. Come down to hang out with neighbors, talk about plans for the station area, and celebrate the area’s rich history.

For this festival day only, Seattle’s Bicycle Sunday route will be extended from Lake Washington Boulevard all the way to Cheasty Boulevard, bringing the community to the heart of the Town Center. Ride your bike and follow the signs to this fun-filled afternoon! LEARN MORE

This event is organized by Friends of Mount Baker Town Center with partial funding by the Seattle Department of Transportation. Sponsors include Artspace Mt. Baker Lofts, Seattle Parks Foundation, and Sound Transit.


Photo of Bridge

Mind the Gap: Building a Bridge Between Historic Neighborhoods and Modern Urban Development
Monday, September 21 | 6:30pm – 8:00pm | Artspace Mt. Baker Lofts (2915 Rainier Ave S, Seattle)

Our second program explores a challenge facing many neighborhoods in Seattle: that transit-oriented urban villages dropped in and around historic neighborhoods can create an equity gap with accessibility, infrastructure, cultural, and generational ramifications. During the Seattle Design Festival local designers will be activating the existing pedestrian bridge that crosses Rainier Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Way. Enhanced wayfinding and experiential graphics will showcase the area’s history and seek to create a memorable and inspiring connection between the communities on either side.

The special bridge installation — funded by grants from SDOT and the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture — will be on display for several weeks. Designers will lead a free, behind-the-scenes tour and discussion in the Artspace Mt. Baker Lofts Community Room on Monday, September 21st. Join us to learn about the physical and cultural challenges, and share ideas on how the bridge (and other pedestrian improvements) can better connect the surrounding historic neighborhoods of Mount Baker and Beacon Hill to the dense urban development taking place in the Town Center. RSVP AND LEARN MORE

This event is organized by Friends of Mount Baker Town Center, Penniless Projects, and JeppsonEGD with partial funding by the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture and Seattle Department of Transportation. Sponsors include Artspace Mt Baker Lofts, Seattle Parks Foundation, and Beacon Hill Merchants Association.


About the Seattle Design Festival

The Seattle Design Festival features tours, exhibits, outdoor installations, activities, films, presentations, and more from September 12-25. Our 2015 theme, Design for Equity, creates pause and reflection. What is equity? What is equitable design? How do we know that a design is equitable? Is it process or product or both? It stretches across sectors – social justice, urban planning, ecology, and finance to name a few – and brings up ideas of dialogue, form, transparency, access, inclusion and investment. Design for Equity challenges us to question our biases and assumptions and inspire us to work toward ensuring that everyone in our society – from every background, ability, race, age, gender, location or economic status – can access the same opportunities and outcomes, both now and in the future. LEARN MORE

FIRST SATURDAY OF THE MONTH NEIGHBORHOOD CLEANUP – October 3rd, Save the date

Please save the date for the next First Saturday Neighborhood Cleanup!

We will be cleaning area streets, including the area around the Mount Baker Town Center and volunteers will be able to choose where they want to focus their efforts. We will hand out supplies, provided by the city, at 9:00AM in the plaza under the Mt. Baker Light Link Station. We will also be working with the City of Seattle Adopt A Street program to make sure that the bags we fill, will be picked up in a timely manner.

There is evidence that suggests that crimes are more likely to be committed in areas strewn with trash. (http://www.economist.com/node/12630201) So, if you are concerned about the garbage that litters our streets and parks, please help clean up our neighborhood. Volunteers have been participating in monthly cleanups since January, but unfortunately this is an ongoing issue and we need your help.

We will meet, rain or shine, at 9:00 AM.

I also want to let you know that there are now several groups in SE Seattle who have committed to First Saturday Neighborhood Cleanups and community service events. We are working together to spread the word about these efforts and to try and encourage participation. If you are interested in organizing a First Saturday Cleanup on your street or in your area, please contact me.

This is a simple and direct way to make a difference in our neighborhood and as our children gear up for a new school year, this would be a great activity to teach them about civic responsibility. It is also a fun event and a great way to meet people! We need your help, so please join us.

Thanks,
Anne MillerGreen

Cleaning Up The Town Center

By Eve Keller

On July 4th, the first Saturday of July, I had the great pleasure to participate with the Friends of Mt. Baker Town Center Clean Up.  Project facilitator for the Adopt-A-Street clean up effort, Anne Miller, loaded us with supplies at the Mt. Baker Light Rail Station and soon after I headed up Rainier Ave. to start collecting trash at the 23rd and Rainier bus stop.

What I learned:

  • Wear sunscreen on the back of your neck, along with your sun hat. I spent a lot of  time looking down as I collected garbage and after a while could feel the sun wreak havoc on my unprotected neck.
  • Try and use the official Adopt-A-Street yellow bags as much as possible (I went home for more black garbage bags after the two yellow ones Anne had given me were filled). I believe it makes passersby more comfortable to see someone with an official yellow bag collecting, rather than a possible oddball rummaging around in the bushes with a regular garbage bag.
  • I personally intend to focus on making bus stops less dirty. A lot of people use them, and I believe those waiting for buses seemed more relaxed in the cleaner environment.
  • Pick up more yellow bags than you think you will use, by two. They can always be put to good use picking up garbage during the interim weeks between first Saturdays.

–     Keep in touch with Anne about where to deposit filled garbage bags for collection.

Please join our effort for a few hours on the first Saturday mornings of each month, year round,  to collect garbage and say hello to neighbors, at the Mt. Baker Light Rail Station.  The Adopt-A-Street program supplies all of the garbage collecting gear you will use, and picks up the yellow filled garbage bags afterwards.  It allows for easy, feel good moments that may last longer than you think.  The streets will look cleaner and you will be appreciated for your efforts.  A homeless gentleman and a woman waiting for the bus individually thanked me during my few hours of collecting.  I still appreciate those spoken gestures, ten days later.

Also, you might find a diamond ring, as I did within my first few minutes collecting.  It resides now in the Lost and Found at the King St. Station, so spread the word if you know someone who has lost a very simple, sweet but real diamond ring.  There is a sign posted at the bus stop mentioning the found ring plus the King St. lost and found phone number.

The first Saturday morning of the month clean up efforts are a great thing.  I hope you can join us and experience the reward of collecting garbage for yourself.

Eve Keller

Mt. Baker Resident and newly minted Garbage Geek

THE CITY’s “MOVE SEATTLE” LEVY — CREATING FUNCTIONAL TRANSIT ORIENTED DEVELOPMENT

For over a decade, the City has studied the challenges and opportunities for a truly effective transit oriented development in the North Rainier Valley.   Finally, in recent months, our community is seeing real progress as SDOT has refined its Accessible Mount Baker project, and the Mayor and other City representatives have called for a real focus on an interdisciplinary solution to the challenges of a light link station area that lags behind the City.  See, for instance, Bruce Harrell letter (July 8, 2015): https://towncenterfriends.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/2015-07-09-bruce-harrell-letter.pdf 0411151558a

While the plans for a vibrant Town Center are moving slowly forward, the actual completion of our Mount Baker Town Center depends on passage of the Move Seattle Levy.  This Levy helps bring the lagging and unsafe North Rainier station area closer to the vibrant vision that the community and the City have called for.

In March 2015, Mayor Ed Murray introduced Move Seattle, his ten-year transportation vision that integrates our plans for transit, walking, biking, and freight. Move Seattle will help us meet current demands while working toward future needs as Seattle continues to grow. Move Seattle envisions a transportation system that contributes to a safe, interconnected, vibrant, affordable, and innovative city.

As part of this vision, Mayor Murray and SDOT Director Scott Kubly released a draft proposal for a new levy called The Transportation Levy to Move Seattle.  The proposed $900 million levy would replace an existing levy that expires at the end of 2015.

In March and April
2015, the City reached out to communities across Seattle to get input on the draft proposal. In response to community feedback, the City revised the proposal before submitting it to the Seattle City Council in May. After briefing the council’s Select Committee on Transportation Funding in May and June, the Committee voted on several amendments, and voted to recommend the full council approve the package.

One of the amendments, sponsored by Councilmember Bruce Harrell, recognized the substantial need for infrastructure investment to make the Mount Baker station area a functional core for an urban village that remains blighted with vacant and underdeveloped lots, and dominated by unsafe and unwelcoming roadways.   As a result of this amendment, the Accessible Mount Baker project has a realistic chance to complete the Town Center, and help our City and our neighborhood achieve its goals to combine density with infrastructure in an equitable and effective manner, carefully balancing the future needs for all modes of travel, and the health of future generations in a walkable City.

For more information on the infrastructure needs of our Town Center, see the North Rainier Urban Village Assessment North Rainier Urban Village Assessment(2015):  https://towncenterfriends.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/north-rainier-urban-village-asssessment-final.pdf

For more information on the Move Seattle Levy, see http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/LevytoMoveSeattle.htm

Healthy Forest, Healthy Community: Neighbors Help Restore Cheasty Greenspace and Hanford Steps

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Here is our group at the lower work area, Hanford Steps. We were visited by Susan Davis (right) from the Rainier Chamber of Commerce, and oriented her to the area and the location of Cheasty Boulevard as it approaches the Town Center.

In April, 2015, the Friends of Mt Baker Town Center celebrated the Earth Day weekend with a group of neighbors who focused on restoration of Cheasty Greenspace and the Hanford Steps, where they connect to Mt. Baker Town Center.   We removed invasive plants, such as the Himalayan Blackberry, disposed of garbage which has accumulated in the greenspace, and improved safety at the base of Hanford Steps.

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An area off Winthrop Boulevard, now clean!

IMAG1054

(Before) The base of the Hanford Steps, where blackberries blocked pedestrian visibility to the intersecting roadway. Local residents have asked for better maintenance to improve safer access between Beacon Hill and the Mt Baker Town Center and rail station.

IMAG1071

(After) The base of Hanford Steps, cleared of blackberries.

0426151303a

The group on Cheasty Boulevard, breaking down.

As the blackberries were removed at the base of the steps, we exposed a four foot cement post and a City of Seattle sewer manhole.  Several residents thanked us for our ongoing efforts, and there is growing interest in stepping up the restoration work in the greenspace adjacent to the light link station.  We are also looking forward to partnering with the City on improvements to the steps themselves.   The upper Beacon Hill steps include a hand rail and modern cement construction, while the lower portion consists of dirt and wood steps.   The lighting is poor as the stairs traverse the greenspace, and stormwater is eroding the bottom path.  These stairs do not yet convey the attractive and vibrant entrance that our City’s newest transit oriented Town Center had hoped for (see Urban Design Framework, below).  While the area is a historic landmark, the upkeep and infrastructure would benefit from some of the attention received by parks and boulevards in Seattle’s more affluent neighborhoods.

IMAG1067

The wheelbarrow came in handy!

Some residents have been concerned about safety on the Hanford Steps, and we cleared a major section of the base area of the Hanford Steps, to make the Beacon Hill connection safer and more attractive.  In February, an employee of our local Wells Fargo Bank (and FMBTC business member) was robbed at gun point on the steps, as young children were walking to school nearby.  Another woman was mugged in the last year on the steps.   Safety concerns in the poorly maintained area is causing many transit using residents to walk to the Beacon Hill light link instead of the Mt. Baker station, even though it is far closer for them.   We felt it is important to make a statement and make the steps more attractive and safer, through clearing the invasive plants and improving visibility at the base for pedestrians.   Today we made strides towards that goal, but there is much more work to be done!

Stay tuned for announcements as we continue to move towards the North Rainier Neighborhood Plan vision of a vibrant Town Center that is safely connected with its neighboring communities! We typically meet the first Saturday of every month under the Mt. Baker light link station for ongoing cleanup projects.

More Background On Cheasty Boulevard

The Cheasty Greenspace is an important but somewhat neglected component of the Seattle Park system.   Cheasty is a Plan for Seattle Park System 190843-acre urban forest between Beacon Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. The Greenspace was originally designed as part of the Olmsted Boulevard Plan for Seattle’s Parks, however trails and other amenities have not been fully developed or maintained as in other parts of the City.  On January 15, 2003, Cheasty Boulevard was designated an Historic Landmark by the Landmarks Preservation Board.  Cheasty Boulevard connects two major sections of Seattle’s Olmsted boulevard system — Beacon Avenue and Mount Baker Boulevard. The street winds down the eastern side of Beacon Hill, originally connecting Mount Baker Boulevard at the junction of Martin Luther King Jr. Way South and Rainier Avenue South.  Mount Baker Boulevard, in tum, connects to Lake Washington Boulevard.

Nearing its end, Cheasty Boulevard takes a sharp right tum toward the intersection of Rainier Avenue South and Martin Luther King, Jr. Way.   This short east-west section retains its earlier name of South Winthrop Street. Franklin High School is visible ahead, but the original connection to Mount Baker Boulevard is no longer evident. The Olmsted Boulevard is not visible and a mandatory right tum prevents access to the rest of the boulevard system.  The reconnection of these important Boulevards is a core mission of Friends of Mt. Baker Town Center.

Urban Design Framework — Some Catching Up To Do For North Rainier Valley!!   In 2011, the City Department of 0411151558aPlanning and Development completed an Urban Design Framework for the Mt. Baker Town Center, which was supposed to prepare the area for high density transit oriented development.  The City’s Urban Design Framework noted that the North Rainier community “desires open spaces that invite people to gather and encourage physical activity. Future development and infrastructure improvements can improve access to open space and bring new greenspace to the core. Access to the Cheasty Greenbelt and other parks can be improved through new pathways, pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure. Gateways and landmarks—highly visible landscape or structural features— can enhance the identity and express civic pride of the Town.”

0409151241aThe Urban Design Framework also discussed a plan for implementation.  The City’s DPD noted that “building a successful Town Center requires the coordinated effort of the community, the City, private development and a range of other public and private entities.”   The City prepared a matrix with a timeframe for completion, identifying responsible parties for Urban Design Framework recommendations.   According to the City matrix, the following tasks were important for the Mt Baker Town Center vision:

  • Develop an open air multicultural market:  1 to 3 Years, with City and Sound Transit support
  • Encourage Setbacks on Pedestrian-Oriented Streets:  1 to 3 years, with the City taking the lead.
  • Encourage redevelopment of opportunity sites:  5 years, with the City taking the lead and collaborating with King County Metro, Private Leaders, and Sound Transit.
  • Reconnect Cheasty and Mount Baker Boulevard:  5 years  – City partnering with WSDOT.
  • Make pedestrian network complete and safe:  5 years. Seattle, working with private leaders and Sound Transit.
  • Improve ped and bike access to Mt. Baker Station:  3-5. City, private, Sound Transit.
  • Restore the natural and designed landscapes of Cheasty and Mount Baker: 5 plus years – City and Community.
  • Establish new open space in core of Town Center:  3 to 5 years. City, working with community and private parties
  • Establish new open space in core of Town Center:  3 to 5 years.  City

Olmsted Brothers And Cheasty Boulevard (per the Landmark Designation Board, Report on Designation)

02725-5_SMA Jefferson ParkFrederick Law Olmsted pioneered the development of urban parks and boulevards throughout the United States, and is credited with developing the profession of landscape architecture. From his travels in England, Olmsted came to feel that “pastoral park scenery with greensward and scattered groves of trees” could serve as an antidote to the stress and artificiality of modern life. Such parks promoted a sense of tranquility by “subordinating individual elements of the park to the overall design.” Parks were to be a place where all citizens could enjoy the pleasures of nature and beautiful scenery. Under the influence of Olmsted, many major American cities built urban parks in the pastoral style, whether designed by the Olmsted firm or others. In Washington, both Tacoma and Spokane hired the Olmsted Brothers to design parks and boulevards (only partially realized).

Cheasty Boulevard is an important part of Seattle’s Olmsted boulevard system, a significant aspect of the city’s heritage and cultural development, and one of the most intact such systems in the nation. The boulevard retains its physical integrity and clearly conveys its significance as part of the Olmsted system.

Cheasty Boulevard is a significant part of Seattle’s Olmsted Boulevard System, a crucial part of the city’s cultural heritage. Planning and implementation of this extensive system was a vital part of Seattle’s growth in the early twentieth century, and a symbol of its desire and ability to be a major city and to meet the needs of its citizens in an urbane manner.  Cheasty Boulevard was designed to connect a major park and boulevard, Jefferson Park and Beacon Avenue South, with Mount Baker Boulevard and the Lake Washington Boulevard system.

Cheasty Boulevard is a component of the boulevard system planned by the Olmsted Brothers in 1903. One of the defining characteristics of an Olmsted boulevard system is that it connects the various parks and boulevards with one another and Cheasty is a connection between two major segments of the system. The work of the Olmsted Brothers work had a significant influence on the development of landscape architecture, city planning and urban design throughout the country,Plan for Seattle Park System 1908 crop (2) as well as in Seattle. Seattle’s Olmsted park and boulevard system is widely acknowledged as one of the best and most intact such systems in the United States.

As a part of the Olmsted park and boulevard system, Cheasty Boulevard contributes to Seattle’s distinctive identity. These parks and boulevards are a significant part of the city’s character and of its park and open space resources. The street is also an easily identifiable feature of Beacon Hill and contributes to the unique identity of the neighborhood.

Help North Rainier Valley’s Mt. Baker Town Center become a true Town Center, where its diverse residents and businesses can benefit and thrive with an infrastructure equal to other parts of our great City, fulfilling its role as a vibrant area connected to its neighboring communities.

UW Engineering Teams Focus on Mt. Baker Intersection Problem

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An illustration of forward thinking transit oriented infrastructure development now being completed at the still unfinished University of Washington light link station, scheduled for completion in 2016.

In 2014, the Friends of Mt Baker Town Center reached out to the University of Washington Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering with a proposal.   We asked if the University might be interested in studying the complex infrastructure problem at the heart of the nascent Mt. Baker Town Center.  Specifically, could the UW focus its energy and creativity on the task of creating a vibrant pedestrian and transit oriented development at a location where 12 lanes of Rainier Avenue South and Martin Luther King Jr. Way collide?  And as an added bonus, could they restore the original Olmsted Parkway connection between Cheasty Boulevard and Mt. Baker Boulevard, and link the Town Center to the adjacent neighborhoods of Beacon Hill and Mt Baker?

We were delighted when Professors Ed McCormack and Stephen Muench accepted our proposal, and selected the problem for the UW’s Senior Engineering Capstone project.   In March, the Senior students heard presentations from Friends of Mt. Baker Town Center, Friends of Seattle Olmsted Parks, and Seattle Department of Transportation.   They also heard an overview on the Department of Ecology’s Brownsfield Development Program, from two Ecology representatives who met earlier in the day with Friends of Mt Baker Town Center and the Department of Parks to discuss Rainier Valley contamination issues.   Since those initial presentations, the UW seniors performed a site visit, and split into teams.   They are now busy working on a professional analysis and proposal for solutions.   The various senior teams will present their proposals in a professional format this June, as the culmination of their Capstone program.

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This intersection lies in the center of a so-called “Town Center”, which is designed to serve a growing population of residents with pedestrian and business friendly development up to 125′ high. The walk zone around this station area already includes the Mt. Baker Lofts, which was built and occupied by families and artists looking forward to the promise of a safe and livable environment.

We look forward to hearing what this year’s graduating seniors have to offer, as they present their creative proposals on this challenging intersection.   The work coincides with SDOT’s Accessible Mt. Baker project, which is developing its own set of recommendations for the creative transit oriented solution to a problem that has plagued this lagging transit station for years.  See http://seattletransitblog.com/2015/03/31/a-belated-but-welcome-proposal-to-fix-the-mount-baker-mess/

We appreciate the support of the University, SDOT, and the many other agencies and nonprofits who are now beginning to focus their energy on how to realize the potential and promise of a Town Center that can serve its current and future residents and businesses, and move the region’s development plans forward in a positive and equitable manner.