News Blog for Seattle's Maple Leaf Neighborhood


Entries from December 2011

Ring in the New Year with the Polar Bear Plunge!

December 30th, 2011 by master

With the weather calling for clouds and a high of 47 degrees and a low of 42 on Sunday, Jan. 1, participants of the annual Polar Bear Plunge at Matthews Beach are in for a more balmy day for a dip in Lake Washington than we’ve seen in years past (last year the lake measured a frigid 41 degrees!).

Photo courtesy of Seattle Parks and Recreation

Registration begins around 11 a.m. at the city beach at 9300 51st Ave. N.E., and the swim begins at noon. Afterward, there will be refreshments for the brave swimmers, who also will receive a 2012 Official Patch of Courage if they make it neck-deep in the lake. Need a little extra room? The Polar Cub Club, just before the big polar bears plunge, offers a chance for younger folks or people who need a little bit more room to take the plunge.

Parks offers a few tips for enjoying a fun, safe swim:

  • Come early, and carpool or take the bus.
  • If you have heart problems or other serious medical concerns, we recommend you consult your health care professional before taking the Polar Bear Plunge. If you don’t go in the water, come and watch!
  • Don’t drink alcohol – it doesn’t warm you up, and it accelerates hypothermia.
  • Don’t stay in the water for longer than 15 minutes – you lose body heat 25 times faster in water than in air.
  • Don’t take off your outer clothing until you’re ready to get in the water, and remove wet clothing before getting into dry clothes.

The Polar Bear Plunge at Matthews Beach was the first official event of its kind in the Seattle area. Janet Wilson, the aquatic center coordinator at Meadowbrook Pool, started the event Jan. 1, 2002. About 300 people participated in that first Polar Bear Plunge, and since then the attendance has soared to more than 1,000 brave bears of every age. The plunge has inspired other, similar events in the Seattle area.

Witnesses to history will, at each participant’s request, record the names of the bold souls who complete the mission by signing the Polar Plunge memory book.

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47 trees vandalized in Beaver Pond Natural Area

December 29th, 2011 by master

It’s not only personal property that is under attack in Maple Leaf. On Dec. 15, the Beaver Pond Natural Area (formerly Thornton Creek Park No. 6) east of Northgate Mall was vandalized, according to Ruth Williams, vice president of the Thornton Creek Alliance, whose news tip made the KCPQ-13 News.

Williams says that branches were illegally removed from 47 trees and saplings  in the corridor just behind Pacific Medical Center, at 10416 Fifth Ave. N.E., at a height of 10 feet. The branches were left where they fell, often on top of plantings, which likely were either planted or have been maintained by the team of volunteers that cares for the natural area. From the news tip:

Here is a clash between urban forest restoration and neighborhood security gone awry, a devastating loss for the Thornton Creek restoration community. … For about two decades volunteers have been at work restoring this site as a functioning urban forest/park.  They have spent hundreds of hours  of their ‘free time’ weeding out invasive plants and replacing them with native plants and trees.  Students from Seattle and all over the world have worked in this park.  Their work was being rewarded as the area became beautiful and wildlife returned.  Volunteers have applied for and spent grant money from the City of Seattle here.  In fact, right now Seattle Parks is in the beginning phases of a $500K improvement project.

Unbeknownst to the volunteers, the neighborhood on the east side of the park has been suffering from a wave of petty crime over the past few years.  Some of these neighbors knew the volunteers, but never mentioned this problem to them.  Did they report these crimes to the police?  We haven’t been able to find out.  But one man was frustrated enough to take things into his own hands and destroy about 10 years’ worth of work, probably without making his neighborhood much safer at all.

Seattle Parks has filed a police report.  Parks will be working with the volunteers to repair the site as much as possible, being careful of the sightlines of course.  Most of the cut trees are conifers, and they never grow back where branches have been cut away.  Everyone in the forest restoration community is upset by this loss.

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More apartments planned for Northgate – can the streets handle the traffic?

December 28th, 2011 by Mike

Above, possible development just northwest of Northgate Mall – City of Seattle.

Below, the existing Northgate Apartments.

As Northgate continues to evolve into a regional transit and shopping hub, two collections of high-rise apartments are being planned just north and east of Northgate Mall.

To the east, Bellevue’s Wallace Properties has proposed building a new seven-story apartment building with 238 units above retail space on Northeast Northgate Way between Fifth and Eighth avenues northeast .

It would be just east of 507 Northgate, a 163-unit apartment complex Wallace opened in 2009 which is now 96 percent leased, emails Sue Geving, president of the Northgate Community Center advisory council.

To the north, an 8.4 acre site – marked “B” in light blue on this map – is now occupied by the Northgate Apartments, 207 low-rise apartments that currently rent for between $700 and $1,000 a month, according to the city, plus two single-family homes.

There, height restrictions would increase from 60 feet to 85 feet, allowing for redevelopment of higher-rise buildings  for mixed or commercial use.

The proposed street scape along Northgate Way would be similar to the drawing at the top of this post.

The Northgate area is lagging behind the city’s proposals for residential density. But some are concerned the growth will stop traffic, specifically along Northgate at First, Third and Eighth avenues. There’s a discussion of the issue here at the Pinehurst blog.

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Northgate Toys 'R' Us closing

December 28th, 2011 by master


In a little over a month, the Toys “R” Us located at Northgate Mall is closing its doors. There are signs at and around the store advertising the eventual closure along with 30 percent off storewide.

You’ve got another month to shop and wait for prices to drop further, according to Meghan Kennedy with Toys “R” Us corporate communications:

The Northgate Toys“R”Us store is closing at the end of January due to the end of the company’s lease term for the property. We’ve enjoyed serving the Northgate community for many years and will continue to look for nearby locations to provide consumers with the products and services that Toys“R”Us offers. We are working diligently to place as many full-time and part-time employees as possible from the Northgate store to our locations in the area.

With Thornton Place filling much of its retail space this spring with the new University of Washington Neighborhood Clinic there in March, that area could get quite a bit more foot traffic in the future. What would you like to see in that space?

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Register now for RUG, NE Seattle little leagues

December 27th, 2011 by master

It might not seem like baseball season yet, but it’s never too early to start preparing to play ball.

RUG Little League, whose home fields are at Maple Leaf Park, is in the midst of registering players for the 2012 season.

Kids 6-12 play at our park, including:

  • T ball for 5- and 6-year-olds
  • Coach Pitch for 7 and 8 year olds
  • Minors, where players start pitching for their teams at ages 9 and 10 
  • Majors, for ages 11 and 12, which cumulates in the most publicized Little League event, the Little League World Series

RUG also provides league play on full-sized diamonds throughout the city for Juniors aged 13-14, Seniors aged 15-16 and Big League for ages-18. Softball is provided in combination with the surrounding Little Leagues, from Minors aged 9-10, through Juniors aged 13-14.

RUG Little League is a non-profit all-volunteer organization, part of Little League District 8 in Washington and Little League National (see the boundary map).

Your kids also can now register for the Northeast Seattle Little League, which serves families who live in the area bounded by the Ship Canal, Northeast 110th Street, Lake Washington and 25th Avenue Northeast/Lake City Way.

Kids aged 5-7 play tee ball and kids aged 7-8 play farm league (either coach-pitch baseball or machine-pitch softball). Older age groups play in kid-pitch leagues. Registration deadlines for the Northeast Seattle league are Jan. 22 for baseball and Feb. 12 for softball.

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Spate of home burglaries in north Maple Leaf

December 27th, 2011 by Mike

The Seattle Police crime map shows a handful of home burglaries here since our last report. All four residential burglaries were within blocks of one another.

On Dec. 16 the front door of a third-floor apartment in the 10500 block of Eighth Avenue Northeast was forced open, police report. Stolen was a medium-sized, heavy metal safe.

The victim, who has lived in the apartment for 27 years, told officers she found it funny, because she had long since lost the combination and there was nothing inside the safe.

On Dec. 14 an apartment in the same block was entered and jewelry boxes stolen, police said.

On Dec. 15, one and possibly two units in the 500 block of Northeast 103rd Street were attacked, with doors kicked and windows broken, according to police reports.

Also on Dec. 15 the front door of a house in the 10200 block of Eighth Avenue Northeast was forced open by some type of pry bar, police report.

The suspect appeared to have gone in every room in the house. Drawers were left open, electronics moved off shelves, containers were emptied on the beds, $40 in cash was taken from a wallet inside a night stand drawer, $45 in cash was taken from a dresser drawer, a change jar was moved and all the change taken, an Xbox with 10+ games and 2 laptops were taken from the living room. Large expensive items such as a flat screen TV and electric guitar were not taken. A Nintendo DSi and two iPod Nanos were taken from bedrooms.

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Winds cause power outages in parts of Maple Leaf

December 25th, 2011 by Mike

Update 12:50 p.m.: City Light now reports over 18,000 customers without power. Including 4,500 in Maple Leaf’s northeast corner, stretching into Pinehurst. We’ve updated the map at right, too.


On this Christmas Day, the official Seattle City Light map of known power outages doesn’t show Maple Leaf – but it’s lying.

We know power is out at 15th Avenue Northeast and Northeast 103rd Avenue. City Light says it has about 7,000 customers out.

Anybody else having trouble cooking the Christmas goose?

KOMO is reporting wind speeds:

Peak wind gusts as of noon: W.Seattle 60, Bellingham 56, Everett 56, Oak Harbor 54, Seattle (Sea-Tac) 53, Gig Harbor 51.

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December 24th, 2011 by Mike

And Happy Holidays from Maple Leaf Life. (And McKay.)

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More reports of stolen mail – are thieves really following the delivery truck?

December 21st, 2011 by Mike

Karen emails this afternoon:

My neighbor and I just found two boxes that were pilfered on the sidewalk (we live at 12th Avenue Northeast and Northeast 88th Street)…one of them meant to be delivered to a 65th and 16th address, not sure about the other one.

Addresses still intact on one box and a tracking number present for the other package… neighbor has called the police and they are sending a patrol car over to get the information.

She’s the same Karen who reported packages stolen from her porch in our last post on this subject.

In addition, on that same post Susan commented:

There have been two daytime break ins over the past two weeks in Meadowbrook (near Northeast 98th Street between 35th Avenue Northeast and Ravenna Avenue Northeast) and one attempted break in. Several packages have been stolen off of front porches. It has been reported in the news that people follow the UPS trucks around.

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20Six FRESH: New Maple Leaf streetwear company

December 20th, 2011 by master

Maple Leaf might not be as hip and cool as Seattle neighborhoods like Ballard and Capitol Hill, but hip and cool still take up plenty of real estate in our north-of-the-Ship-Canal neighborhood.

Case in point, 20Six FRESH, a streetwear company run out of the Maple Leaf home of Billy Thompson that just launched this month.

“I’ve always been a fan of rare and unique designs,” says Thompson, a corporate graphic designer by day who has been designing T-shirts for other companies in his spare time for about eight years.

As streetwear design has expanded its appeal from the realms of skateboarding and hip-hop culture more into the mainstream, Thompson decided it was time to make a go of it on his own. With a focus on “Seattle-inspired designs, stuff I like,” Thompson planted the seed for 20Six FRESH earlier this year, and has since enlisted the help of his brother, Danny Thompson, who’s taking care of the website and marketing, including keeping the Facebook and Twitter feeds fresh.

We got a behind-the-scenes tour of the where the action takes place, right around the corner from Cafe Javasti, and you can be sure you’ll be getting much more than just a T-shirt when you order from 20Six FRESH.

“It’s not just about getting the package,” Thompson explains. “It’s more of the experience of getting it.” [Read more →]

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