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The end in sight for Leroux

April 20th, 2015 by Sara

By reporter Steven Smalley
In business since 1948 with the same owners for the last 30 years, Leroux Fine Apparel for Men and Women will bid us farewell – at least in this form – as Mike and Alexandra Smith head into retirement. They turn out the lights for the last time at the end of May.
“The lease is up, and I didn’t want to do this into my seventies,” declares Mike, a fixture in the Village for as long as most can remember. “We are retiring and going to go fill up our bucket list.”
Although the property is leased, the business itself is wholly owned by the Smiths and is for sale.
“It has made a very good living for us,” confesses Alexandra, who most people call Alex. “One could relocate it if they chose not to open it here in Magnolia. We are the last better men’s and women’s clothing store in King County in existence this long. We would like to see the business continue in some form.”
Many solid relationships have formed during their time, they say. The Smiths hesitate to refer to shoppers as customers; the bonds with them are so much closer.
“It’s hard to say ‘customer’ because most of them turn out to be good friends,” Mike explains, sitting in the comfort of an office at the rear of the store. “We got to know them, they got to know us. It becomes an extended family situation.”
Fear not the end of the store is the end of the Smiths in the Village. As Magnolia residents, their intentions are to stick around and continue their involvement in the community.
“You might see us at the summer festival working a booth or helping out in some way,” says Alexandra. “We will still be active in Magnolia in some capacity. It’s been wonderful to be part of the community. We’ve been very lucky and very fortunate.”
After all this time, one might assume some emotion as they walk out the door for the last time.
“I’ll have feelings I don’t even know what they’re going to be yet. I haven’t quite wrapped my head around them,” Mike reveals.
“There is a life. We’d like to enjoy it before we can’t,” Alexandra says. “We’ll miss everybody desperately.”


Blood drive today- will you donate?

April 20th, 2015 by Sara

The Magnolia Community Blood Drive is today. Their goal for today’s blood drive is 36 people. Our community’s need for blood products, to save lives and improve the quality of life for patients, never goes away. From  Bloodworks Northwest:

  • Every 2 minutes someone is Western Washington needs blood.
  • And Bloodworks Northwest must register around 900 donors per weekday.

Just this past weekend, a 6 year old boy received a  heart transplant and required 18 units of blood and 22 units of plasma to successfully pull through his surgery. Because of blood donors like you and a heart donor, this little boy and his family have been given the gift of life and more memories to come.

Monday, April 20th at Our Lady of Fatima Church Hall from 1 – 7 p.m.

*Walk-in service only* Sponsored by the Magnolia Knights of Columbus

For more information contact Doug Gehrke at (206)282-4400

Shameless selfie of your editor giving blood for the first time.  See you there!

Shameless selfie of your editor giving blood for the first time. See you there!

For more information about the importance and impact of donating blood, check out the following links and share with your colleagues:


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Please help- missing personal papers

April 17th, 2015 by Sara

Another car prowl- this time hitting hard. Danielle writes:
Between 12:30 am and 7:30 am on Monday 13th of April our Maroon Scion xb was broken into outside of 3011 23rd Ave W. I discovered the break in at about 730 am as I was leaving the house, the back window on the drivers side had been completely smashed open. The thieves stole a white plastic upright drawer container and a portable file storage box (have attached pictures of similar looking items) which contained many important documents including my Australian passport, birth certificates, tax documents etc (name of the documents Danielle Anthony-Goodwin and John Paul Bone). These items would have no monetary value and we are suspecting that the containers may be dumped somewhere close nearby as they are bulky to carry and it appears the thieves were on foot as they did not steal all of the items in the car.
If anyone has any information or has seen the stolen items please contact (206) 387-3626 or email These items contain many things that are precious to us and we are hoping someone has seen them and that they can be returned to us.


No change? Real Change now has an app for that

April 17th, 2015 by Sara


Magnolia’s Real Change vendor Debbie is excited about the new app.


Does anyone carry cash these days?  Nearly everything can be paid for with your credit card or phone lately, and that can present a problem for people who make a living on that spare change. From Real Change:

With a new app launched today, for the first time, Seattleites can pull out their phones and scan a QR code to pay for an e-version of Real Change, the city’s weekly street newspaper sold by homeless and low-income vendors. Local Google volunteers developed the app over the past two years as part of a volunteer project– encouraged by the company–to find an effective technological solution to the challenges Real Change faces in a marketplace where more transactions are taking place electronically. As of today, the app is available for download on iOS and Android phones. “Cashlessness is a challenge our vendors face on a daily basis,” said Timothy Harris, founding director of Real Change. “This app will help our paper survive in the digital age, when fewer people have ready access to cash and more people prefer to read news content on their mobile devices.”

Starting today, participating Real Change vendors will have badges with individualized QR codes. Customers who have downloaded the free app can scan the QR code to purchase a digital version of the issue from that particular vendor.

iphone with badge

The price for downloading an e-version of the publication is $2.99 (including a fee from digital content providers) while the paper copy will continue to cost $2. Vendors will receive the $1.49 from the sale of the digital version, and $1.40 from the sale of the paper version.

Click here for more information.


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Springfest in the Village Friday, April 24th 6-9pm

April 15th, 2015 by Sara

Don’t miss Springfest-this fun for the whole family event is less than two weeks away!

There will be a bouncy house for the kids, an Artwalk throughout the Village at participating businesses, sips and suds at the Hales Ales Beer Garden and music by the Superchargers.  This free event is brought to us by the Magnolia Chamber of Commerce. Bring the kids, meet the neighbors & come to the Village for the fun! McGraw street will be closed from 32nd to 33rd. Click here for more information.

springfest 2015

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Help design Smith Cove Park

April 13th, 2015 by Sara

Thanks to funding from Seattle’s newly-formed Seattle Park District, community members have the rare opportunity to weigh in on the design of the future Smith Cove Park.

I don’t know about you, but I am excited about this. Help plan a gorgeous new park in our own backyard? I’m in! From 

Photo from

Photo from

Community-based planning has started to develop a conceptual design for Smith Cove Park thanks to a grant from the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods. The Friends of Smith Cove Park retained the Berger Partnership landscape architecture/urban design firm to shepherd the design process. Public meetings will yield vital community feedback to identify uses for this conceptual park plan. Examples are: hand-carried boat launch; marine beach access; beach restoration; improved multi-sport play field; improved access and circulation for cycling, paddling, walking and running; family discovery and play areas; picnic areas and community gardening; off-leash dog areas; observing nature and more. The Seattle Park District assures funding for improvements to sports field drainage and irrigation, shoreline work, infrastructure, and basic park development.

What do YOU want to see at our new park? Get involved, share your ideas, and get counted as they shape this amazing Seattle waterfront park and playfield! Click here for more information and to register your name for updates and public meeting dates.


MAY 13, 2015, 7:00 PM

Magnolia Lutheran Church, 2414 31st Ave. W

Located on the south end of Magnolia and next to Elliott Bay Marina, the lower part of this 12-acre park has tremendous views of Puget Sound, Mt. Rainier, Seattle’s skyline, cruise/fishing ships and more and with access via kayak, boat, bicycle, on foot or by car.


SDOT updates corner and upsets homeowner

April 13th, 2015 by Sara

By reporter Steven Smalley
Without much of a hi-how-are-you, the Seattle Department of Transportation marked the intersection of West Howe Street and Magnolia Boulevard to install an improved network of wheelchair ramps, islands, and signage for better pedestrian access to this odd confluence of streets. Situated just west of the Howe Street Bridge, contractors made short work of the project before many could raise a hand to question it. One concerned resident who made an attempt was the homeowner directly in the path of construction, Kim Mehrer Vaughn who lives on the corner.
“I asked repeatedly to see the plans,” she said. “I wanted to see what they were doing, and to see how it affected my property. I was stalled and stalled.”
After further inquiries “up the chain with the city,” and more than a bit of persistence, city employees visited the site. They said the upgrade was driven by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
“When I saw the plans, I thought it was a very poor design,” Vaughn stated. “I thought we could review them. The city said it was too late. It was already going to happen in three weeks.”
“The stop sign was a big issue. I went back and forth with the city about it. The car that is stopped at the stop sign blocks me from getting out of my driveway,” she declares. “The sign is also not visible from the Howe Street Bridge. I simply requested that the city move the stop sign about 12-feet east at the end of the Howe Street Bridge.”
Following a visit to the intersection by Magnolia Voice, it was observed the stop sign is set back (north) from the street and is indeed not visible from the middle of the bridge. Also, while on scene for only a few minutes, this reporter witnessed several vehicles – passenger and commercial – blow through the stop as though they didn’t see it.
“The city decided to placate me and cut back the shrubs so the sign could be seen more,” Vaughn said. “But that’s a temporary solution to a permanent problem, because the shrubs will grow back. The solution is to move the stop sign.”
Vaughn made a special point to speak out about her treatment by the city.
“It just ticks me off that the city just ignores me. It’s like it doesn’t mean anything to be a homeowner,” she says. “I feel as though they’re just patting me on the head and saying, ‘Oh, it will all go away.’ They make me feel small, as though I don’t have any voice and I’m not educated enough to understand traffic. I’m in the construction business. Construction is my background. We employ 150 people. If my husband were alive he’d be jumping up-and-down on the mayor’s desk today and he would make something happen. I’m very frustrated.”
Following a request for comment by Magnolia Voice, City Traffic Engineer, Dongho Chang emailed his answers to specific questions about Vaughn’s concerns.
“Americans with Disabilities Act passed by United States Congress requires public streets to be accessible by people with disabilities,” he writes. “Our review determined that a wheelchair user did not have any access at this intersection. The intersection was modified to provide ADA access in the safest way possible for all users, especially our most vulnerable neighbors that live in the community to access the Boulevard and to cross the Howe Street Bridge.”
“We looked at installing just the curb ramps, but the visibility for the wheelchair users attempting to cross from both Magnolia Blvd. and Howe Street Bridge was not sufficient,” he continued. “We also looked at revising the intersection to a ‘Tee’ configuration, but found that we could improve the intersection operation with a triangular island that gives eastbound smoother travel through the intersection. The triangular island also provides a resting place at this complex intersection and gives the people crossing a safer stop controlled crossing…There were sufficient gaps in traffic for the homeowner to have access to and from the driveway as well.  Contractor will be finishing up soon with the final paint and signing. A stop ahead warning sign will be replacing the yellow sign that warns driver about the curve on the Howe Street bridge.”
“Changes that are made to provide sidewalks, crosswalks, and intersection reconfiguration does impact home and property owners.  Although we try to minimize this impact, safety for the traveling public has to be our highest priority. In this instance, the safety of the people who are walking and traveling through the intersection in cars did impact a homeowner due to the proximity of the new stop sign to the driveway. I also realize that this change also impacts how the entire community travel through this intersection. I apologize for these impacts and thank the community for their understanding. I do live in the community and will be monitoring this intersection to ensure it is working as intended.”
Another related issue brought to the attention of Magnolia Voice by a resident bicycle rider concerns the bike lane that previously coursed through the intersection. Changes – with the lane now gone and a bicycle emblem affixed to the roadway – indicate both rider and driver must  squeeze into a bottleneck at the triangle. The rider noted the effect of pushing bicycle and automobile together at a narrow place makes for a dangerous location.
Car at stop sign blocks driveway

Car at stop sign blocks driveway


 New stop sign invisible to motorists

New stop sign invisible to motorists

Bicycles and cars bottleneck at intersection

Bicycles and cars bottleneck at intersection


Perspective: Magnolia – Magnolia’s back yard: Fort Lawton’s Historic District, controversial history continues

April 12th, 2015 by Sara

By Monica Wooton

Magnolia Historical Society Board member

Fifty years ago, another of the tug-a-war controversies that plagued Fort Lawton from its inception began with the call by the city for a historic district to preserve the original buildings. This came about as the Army began to surplus the property and buildings in the 1960’s. Just as the establishment of the Fort brought forth different agendas and wills in the many years of getting it established; so, too did the undoing of it begin another long battle.

Discovery Park was already in existence and Friends of Discovery Park (Friends) was actively working to defeat any proposals that would put uses in the Park that were more assertive than open space, protection of habitat and trails.

From the beginning there was a concerted effort to keep this Park, as the Master Plan says and is often quoted by Friends, a place of “…open space of quiet and tranquility…a sanctuary…[to] escape the turmoil of the City and enjoy the rejuvenation which quiet and solitude and an intimate contact with nature can bring.” Friends did not want a Central or Stanley Park here and were adamant in their fights to prevent that from happening. A city-wide initiative to put a golf course in the park in 1975 was defeated in large part because Friends fought it. Coming off that victory, the Fort Historic District was just another fight Friends would take on in their effort to uphold the Master Plan to the strictest interpretation.

Park activist Bob Kildall said: “It would be very difficult to carry out the Master Plan if parts of the property are cut up as islands earmarked for other uses…and, if various buildings are used in such a way as to attract larger amounts of traffic into the park.” Some disagreed. One proposal was for a low-income district for artists who could use the buildings as homes and studios.

As the debate raged on, Herb Robinson, editorial writer for the Seattle Times wrote of the conflict in many editorials over the years. On December 1, 1975, Herb Robinson on the editorial page of the Seattle Times, called it “the long running ‘battle of Fort Lawton’ an effort that began a decade ago.” Robinson further expressed that the fight was not over.

historic and misc 013

It continued being debated with no resolve and the buildings sat unused and decaying. In 1983, a building proposed to be used as an environmental learning center burned down and The Seattle Times said it was “under possibly suspicious motives.” Robinson again wrote in 1984: “…deciding what place, if any, the ancient Fort Lawton buildings have in the Park’s future has been at an impasse for far too long. While the issue was simple enough, its resolution has been stymied by a variety of factors…government bureaucrats, historic preservationists, and park purists…the prolonged pulling and tugging…is typical in the public policy arena these days…too cumbersome, too expensive and too vulnerable to political manipulation…”

Historian and Preservationist Mimi Sheridan explains: “There was more to the story. Federal law required that the Army consider impacts on historic buildings when turning over the property. In 1980, the city had signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) requiring it to “take any action required to prevent further deterioration” of the historic buildings and to enact an ordinance to manage the historic district. The Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, sued to enforce the agreement. In February 1988, the Federal District Court halted demolition, finding that “irreparable harm would occur if demolition of the historic buildings proceeded and the MOA remained unfulfilled. “ (Washington Trust for Historic Preservation v. City of Seattle, No. C87-1506C)

The city council still could not make up their minds on the matter. In the end, in the words of a Times article of June 14, 1988: “six historic military buildings surrounding the Fort Lawton parade grounds will stand as empty-silent memorials to the old Army base.”

Left to languish unused, the buildings are deteriorating slowly – the World War II Chapel on the Hill (added to the district in 2005) desperately needs new paint, refurbishing and landscaping. Peeling paint and needed repairs are evident on the other structures. Recently surplused, now protected by local historic district status as well, are Officer’s Row and the Non-Commissioned Officer’s houses. The exteriors and landscaping are being restored and preserved. Private owners, who will be in a homeowner’s association bound by city historic guidelines, will be able to buy them.


The Chapel on the Hill and other historic buildings show obvious signs of deterioration and disrepair. Photo Monica Wooton 2015

The Chapel on the Hill and other historic buildings show obvious signs of deterioration and disrepair. Photo Monica Wooton 2015

On Thursday, April 16, the Magnolia Historical Society will hold its Annual meeting on the: “History of the Fort and the Historic District and Where It Is Going.” The meeting will be held at 7 PM in the Fireside Room at Magnolia Lutheran Church (2414 31st Avenue West). There will be a presentation by historian and preservationist Mimi Sheridan; and, THRIVE Communities, Gary Blakeslee, will also speak about plans for the privatization, rehabilitation and restoration of Officer’s Row and the Non-Commissioned Officer’s houses in the Historic District. This program is free to the public and refreshments will be served. For more information on the meeting, to volunteer or to buy Magnolia’s award-winning history books with the history of the Fort and Discovery Park click here.

Drawings of two views of  the Fort Lawton Post  Exchange and Gymnasium,  which was completed in  1905 at a total cost of  $20,700. This building,  which still stands on the  parade grounds, is on the  National Register of  Historic Places. Historic  American Buildings  Survey, Fort Lawton  Recording Project,  Page 12. 1981

Drawings of two views of the Fort Lawton Post Exchange and Gymnasium, which was completed in 1905 at a total cost of $20,700. This building, which still stands on the
parade grounds, is on the National Register of Historic Places. Historic American Buildings Survey, Fort Lawton Recording Project, Page 12. 1981

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Brief lane closure on Ballard Bridge tomorrow around 9am

April 7th, 2015 by Sara

Crews from SDOT will briefly close one northbound lane of the Ballard Bridge tomorrow morning, Wednesday April 8 at approximately 9 a.m. The closure will allow crews to position equipment for a maintenance procedure expected to take 5 or 10 minutes. There could also be a bridge opening during that time.

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Tennis lessons start today!

April 7th, 2015 by Sara

Got a kiddo that wants to learn? Magnolia Community Center’s Spring tennis Lessons with coach G begin on Monday, April 6th.  They have lessons for ages 4 – 14 year olds.

Call 206.386.4235 or click here for more information.