Seattle's Magnolia Neighborhood News Blog

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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


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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.



Meet your new neighbors – 4,500 Expedia employees

April 3rd, 2015 by Sara

By reporter Steven Smalley

Expedia, the online travel site currently rocking Bellevue’s world, is about to move in downstairs. What will soon be Amgen’s former 40-acre, 750,000 square foot campus was sold to the internet travel giant for $228.9 million in cash, according to published reports.
With 25% of Expedia’s current employees reportedly living in Seattle, and the remainder on the east side, the Emerald City’s already crowded roadways will soon take on the additional impact of this commute.
It’s expected Expedia will offer shuttle busses across Lake Washington, but that’s unknown now as it’s still early in planning stages, according to reports.
There is some time before all of this transpires. It will take two-and-a-half years for Amgen to move out, followed by a total remodel of the facilities, until we will see the traffic impact.
One of the major reasons for Expedia’s move to the Interbay location, according to reports, was the spectacular waterfront views expected to make recruiting the finest tech talent a much easier proposition.
As one long-time resident told Magnolia Voice, “Glad to know the city put the east-west routes on a road diet.”


Don’t miss the egg hunt this Saturday!

April 2nd, 2015 by Sara



Kids 10 and under are invited to the annual Magnolia Spring Egg Hunt this Saturday, just outside of the Community Center. Arrive early because the hunt will begin promptly at 10 a.m.. The event is free, but organizers are collecting non-perishable food donations.

Parents should bring cameras and kids should bring baskets or bags to hold their loot. Meet at the Magnolia Community Center at 2550 34th Ave W to be directed to the location for your age group hunt.

For more information call 206-386-4235. Parking is limited.

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Szmania’s has new name – Rogo’s

April 2nd, 2015 by Sara

By reporter Steven Smalley
Rogo’s Restaurant & Bar is the new moniker for the old Szmania’s Restaurant in the Village. Chef Ludger Szmania and family now operate a bed & breakfast in the Wenatchee area leaving the restaurant to current owner, Chef Michael Rogozinski who officially changed the name Wednesday.
With all hands on deck, Chef Michael and crew were especially busy making last minute interior updates to the decor in preparation for the opening. We can report they made it on time, give or take.
If you haven’t visited lately, Chef Michael has a focus different from his predecessor and mentor. Originally from Guatemala, Rogozinski served an apprenticeship under Chef Ludger and worked with him at various times and venues since his arrival in this country.
Working from a method which borrows from cultures such as Spain, North Africa, and Latin America, Chef Michael offers an eclectic cuisine apart from Szmania’s Northwest style.
“My approach is lighter food – freshness, local ingredients – modern twists on old classic dishes,” explains Rogozinski. “Making comfort food at a level you can’t make it home. It’s what I consider New American.”
Look for Chef Michael’s signature dishes to set the tone of the menu. First off is a 16 oz. Modena-style Ribeye Steak with a balsamic marinade, seasoned with spices and herbs. Then there is the Stuffed Chicken Breast with Gorgonzola, wrapped in prosciutto with a Marsala golden raisin sauce.
“I have a beautiful old classic dish which is the ‘Rogo’s Wedge.’ It’s a wedge salad with a blue cheese dressing with some beautiful Spanish cheese, bacon, and a warm dressing,” reveals Chef Michael.
In keeping with the worldly focus, look for Moroccan-spiced lamb skewers with a drizzle of aioli, and for a little Mexican flair, try the Tequila Prawns with roasted peppers and plantain fritters.
Dinner is served seven days a week with a special Easter Brunch this Sunday. Happy hour in the bar is 4-6 p.m. daily with a special bar menu and discounted drinks. No lunches served at this time.
“I’m really excited and a little bit nervous,” acknowledges the chef. “It’s my name on the wall.”


Number 6 Cider Pub opened Friday on Elliott Ave

April 1st, 2015 by Sara

With Laura at our sister site Queen Anne View

First craft beer, now craft cider – Interbay is becoming a hub for local beverage creations. Number 6 Cider Pub opened at 945 Elliott Ave W Friday, serving the ciders you may know from local retail spots (Met Market, PCC, QFC, and Total Wine all sell their ciders) as well as bars and restaurants.

Now, you can taste their wares and seasonal specialties without having to travel far from home. Owners Tom Todaro and Don Broyals founded Number 6 Cider after looking for a new business venture. They source the cider from Yakima apples, a mix of 5 different varieties that are definitely fresh – according to Number 6 Cider “squeezed and delivered to our door in a 5000-pound tank within 5 hours.”

Number 6 Cider Pub gets its name from the neighboring railroad tracks that run alongside its new Interbay location – Number 6 was one of the most dangerous railroad tunnels that connected the lines from East to West. You can learn even more about how our newest business got their name (Number 6) in their Facebook video:

Number 6 video

According to co-founder/co-owner Tom Todaro, “we are psyched to open the pub so that people can come together and try an extended range of seasonal ciders” – and you can do so every day at the new pub, weekdays 3-9pm, Saturdays noon-9pm, and Sundays 3pm-9pm.

They also serve tasty bites with the cider with a selection of breads, cheeses, and Salumi charcuterie. And, if you lean toward the grape or the hop, they have local wine and beer too.

Number 6 growlersThe rotating cider taps pour six varieties of Number 6 Cider including:

  • True
  • Honey-Ginger
  • Pomegranate
  • Spice Box
  • Juniper
  • Smoked Jalapeño

They also fill growlers to go, and have rotating seasonal ciders on the menu.

Stop by to welcome Number 6 Cider Pub to the neighborhood, and enjoy the local menu of ciders, beers, wines, and bites.

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Larry Phillips not seeking reelection

April 1st, 2015 by Sara


After two decades of service, County Council Chair Larry Phillips announced today that he will not run for reelection.

He writes:

…I like to say, “The beauty of King County and our great natural resources are only surpassed by the energy and creativity of the people who live here.”  For me, that has never been more true than in serving with my Council colleagues, County personnel, and especially my personal staff in meeting the needs of the people we represent.  Individually they are extraordinary public servants; collectively they are a powerhouse of institutional strength for our community.  As an elected official, and as a citizen, I will always be grateful for their steadfast commitment to, and accomplishments on behalf of, King County and our region.

…I will leave my service on the King County Council knowing the great landscapes of King County are far better preserved than when I started.  Our air, waters, and natural resources are better protected, and the people living here enjoy a healthier environment and more prosperous community.  I also know in leaving we have at King County enhanced the arts, parks, open space and recreation, fiscal responsibility, and government efficiency and reform, and substantially begun to address our transportation, transit, and mobility needs.  Each of these adds to our quality of life; as such, my tenure on the Council has been time well spent.  This is, after all, a place—and a community—worth fighting for with optimism, intelligence, and resolve.

Metropolitan King County Councilmember Larry Gossett released this statement after today’s announcement:

“Larry Phillips is a friend and colleague who has been at the forefront of change throughout Martin Luther King, Jr. County. When it comes to the challenges of the County Budget, transportation, climate change, and racial inequities within the communities that make up King County, Larry has been a tremendous leader and resource for getting us to think ‘outside the box’ in getting the Council to focus on real solutions for making meaningful social changes for low income and working class citizens who reside in the great Pacific Northwest.”

Phillips has served on the Council since 1991, representing the fourth district, which includes the Seattle neighborhoods of Queen Anne, Magnolia, Ballard, Fremont, Belltown, South Lake Union, and Downtown.

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