Does museum expansion plan make Volunteer Park a ‘threatened’ landscape?

An influential Washington D.C. foundation has added Capitol Hill’s Volunteer Park to its list of “nationally significant at-risk and threatened” landscapes due to the $49 million planned expansion of the Seattle Asian Art Museum. But a longtime leader of the local group that protects the park says the designation goes too far.

What The Cultural Landscape Foundation is calling for “would be very punishing” Doug Bayley of the Volunteer Park Trust tells CHS.

“A full stop would set everybody back years,” Bayley said. “I think it’s totally salvageable. I see it as an ongoing conversation.” Continue reading

Body found in Volunteer Park identified as Capitol Hill woman

15942618_10211695658452223_884321498_o

(Image: Tim Durkan with permission to CHS)

Friends say the body discovered Monday morning in a Volunteer Park lily pond was 49-year-old Amy Vanderbeck.

A longtime part of Capitol Hill and the Seattle coffee scene, Vanderbeck was a popular Vivace barista and opened Watertown cafe on 12th Ave with two fellow Vivace employees before closing the venue in 2010. Writing about Watertown in 2009, the Seattle Times said Vanderbeck had been pulling shots since 1985, starting at a Nordstrom’s espresso cart “and moving in 1989 to Vivace’s original espresso cart outside Washington Mutual on Broadway.”

Vanderbeck also worked in tech and as an audio engineer and video producer.

In 2016, she began producing the Struggle to Connect podcast. “Spurred by her therapist to leave the house a minimum of 2 hours a day,” the description reads, “Amy Vanderbeck wanders around Seattle visiting her friends and sticking microphones in their faces.” In the most recent episode from November she catches up with an old friend at Vivace. “I define a friend as someone I’ve been in the foxhole with at some point in my life,” she says. “Someone who has been right next to me when something shitty or completely awesome — but mostly shitty — has happened.” Through the episode, the two discuss love, work, sex, and Capitol Hill.

Her body was found Monday morning by a worker in Volunteer Park. Police say there was no indication of foul play.

The King County Medical Examiner is investigating the death. UPDATE 3:33 PM: The medical examiner released information identifying Vanderbeck Tuesday afternoon. The results of the investigation of her death are pending toxicology reports that sometimes take weeks or longer to complete.

UPDATE 1/11/2017: If you or anybody you know needs assistance or is in crisis, call (206) 461-3222 for help.

A Friends of Amy Vanderbeck giving campaign to raise funding for her funeral expenses and a possible memorial has raised more than $17,000 from friends and loved ones.

Her friends and loved ones will gather Friday at Century Ballroom and then walk together to Volunteer Park’s lily pond.

UPDATE 1/13/2017: Vanderbeck’s family has asked CHS to help them reach out anybody who knew and loved Amy about the gathering Friday to remember her and mark her life. “If you knew or loved or met her, come out,” Vanderbeck’s sister Lisa Weir tells CHS. Weir especially hopes to connect with people drawn to the issues of mental illness and loneliness that Vanderbeck spoke about in her Struggle to Connect podcast. “Just because she’s gone, it doesn’t mean they’re less important,” Weir said.

We are gathering to celebrate Amy. Century Ballroom, Friday, January 13. 2pm to 6pm Tell everybody who loved her. That’s why we have a big room. Everyone who loved Amy is welcome – everyone who loves us is welcome. We will march to the pond following the gathering – wear layers. Bring memories, photos, yourself. Please share post with your Amy circle. She touched so  many lives – we can hardly reach wide enough.

Body found in Volunteer Park lily pond

Seattle Police and the county Medical Examiner were at Volunteer Park Monday morning to investigate after a dead body was found in the green space’s south lily pond.

A SPD spokesperson tells CHS that the death does not appear to be suspicious and there were no signs of foul play.

The body was discovered by a parks employee and reported to police and Seattle Fire just before 8 AM. The pond is near the Seattle Asian Art Museum and the park’s iconic water tower.

The body was reported to Seattle Fire as a deceased male. Investigators were at the park as of 9 AM to examine the scene around the submerged body.

The King County Medical Examiner will determine the identity of the victim and investigate the cause of death. Continue reading

A look at all sides in Seattle Asian Art Museum expansion debate

We can work this out. The proposed overhaul and expansion of the 83-year-old Seattle Asian Art Museum has become a bone of contention in the neighborhood around Volunteer Park. Another three dozen citizens had their say on the potential environmental impact of the project — including views and park use — Thursday night, adding to the dozens of letters already received on the project from all sides in the argument. During Thursday night’s proceedings, CHS heard arguments in support of the project and others with hopes of scaling it back. Here is a look at both sides.

The meeting on Thursday drew about 40 commenters on the project. A little more than half spoke in favor of the planned fall 2017 project that would expand the Asian Art Museum 3,600 square feet into the park from the east side of the 1933 historic building. The museum plans to add more display space to represent South Asia and India as well as fix infrastructure issues including a climate control system and seismic upgrades, while making the museum ADA accessible.

Here is what we heard from the proponents Thursday night:

  • The expansion fits in the Olmsted vision and the museum has engaged the community and made changes based on public input. Continue reading

Reminder: Seattle Asian Art Museum overhaul and expansion land use meeting

Another night, another important development meeting for an iconic part of the Capitol Hill landscape. Thursday, City of Seattle officials will hold a meeting to provide an opportunity for citizen comment on the environmental impact of the three-story, 13,650 square-foot project that includes a seismic and systems overhaul of the 83-year-old building home to the Seattle Asian Art Museum and a 3,600 square-foot expansion of the facility.

CHS reported here on the petition that put the public hearing on the schedule. Museum officials say they support the opportunity for more public feedback on the project during its “Master Use Permit” application process.

Seattle Asian Art Museum Land Use Public Meeting

The planned fall 2017 project would expand the Asian Art Museum 3,600 square feet into the park from the east side of the 1933 historic building. The museum plans to add more display space to represent South Asia and India as well as fix infrastructure issues including a climate control system and seismic upgrades, while making the museum ADA accessible. The project has faced a wave of opposition from neighbors but a museum representative said the tide of public feedback received has shifted after a CHS story documented the first letters on the projects from neighbors — a tally late last week, showed 56 letters in support of the project, 43 opposed, and six “other/neutral.”

While the comments collected are important, the final decision won’t be a vote decided by the public. Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections planners must weigh the proposed project’s potential environmental impact including views and recreational use in the landmarks-protected Volunteer Park. In addition to speaking Thursday night, comments can also be sent to PRC@seattle.gov referencing project #3024753.

 

CHS Pics | Fifth annual Holiday in the Park: hundreds of luminarias, thousands of snowflakes

With hundreds of lanterns lighting the paths and tens of thousands of snowflakes decorating the sky, the Volunteer Park Trust gathered neighbors in front of the Seattle Asian Art Museum Thursday night for the annual Holiday in the Park celebration. Carolers included the The Total Experience Gospel Choir and the Beaconettes, “the all-inclusive Columbia City Community Chorus.”

This weekend brings more holiday celebration to the park at the Volunteer Park Conservatory. The greenhouse hosts Santa by day. By night, ILUM, The Sylvan Series lights the conservatory with illuminated art.

Thursday, along with the free cocoa and “wish boats,” the trust volunteers informed the crowd with a 3D model of the plans for a new Volunteer Park amphitheater. The Holiday in the Park event was created in 2012 to help bring the community together inside the Olmsted-designed park for a celebration of friends and neighbors. You can learn more about the group at volunteerparktrust.org. More pictures from this year’s Holiday in the Park, below. Continue reading

Citizen petition forces meeting on Seattle Asian Art Museum overhaul and expansion

From the project's "geotechnical" report

From the project’s “geotechnical” report

In an effort to drive massive web traffic and create some sexy Facebook clickbait, we are posting about yet another Volunteer Park and Seattle Asian Art Museum expansion meeting. Yes, it’s true. Another meeting on the proposal to improve the 1933-built museum’s climate control system, perform need seismic upgrades, make the museum ADA accessible, and expand the facility by 3,600 square feet will take place next week after the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections was petitioned to hold a public meeting on the pending approval of the project in the city’s land use permit process. Continue reading

Thousands take to streets of Capitol Hill as ‘Seattle Women March Against Hate’

(Images: CHS)

(Images: CHS)

Thousands of women — and those who love them — gathered in Volunteer Park Saturday afternoon for a march against hate organized to counter a tide of misogyny and stand up against efforts to roll back women’s rights under the incoming Trump administration. Here are a few glimpses from the crowd and images from CHS for the day’s rally and procession from Volunteer Park to Cal Anderson via 12th Ave and Broadway.

Police estimated between 3,000 and 4,000 marchers participated.

“When we see bigotry and when we see discrimination, we need to have the courage, the strength, and the passion to denounce it,” organizer Kelsey Coleman said as she addressed the crowd waiting in Volunteer Park before the start of the march. “And to show people of all ethnicities, all orientations, all genders, and all religions that we stand beside them.”

An idea first hatched by a group of friends with a start a little more than a Facebook invite, organizers said Saturday’s event grew under its own power as women sought a local opportunity to speak out against the outcome of the election. Demi Wetzel told CHS she and the other organizers were overwhelmed by the outpouring of support, offers of help, and media interest in the event.

Chants during the march rattled off buildings on the chilly afternoon. My body, my choice. Black lives matter. Not my president.

More images and coverage of the march are here.

‘Seattle Women March Against Hate’ Saturday across Capitol Hill — UPDATE

Abort the patriarchy #seattlewomensmarchagainsthate

A photo posted by Siv Prince (@sivprince) on

UPDATE 12/3/2016 4:20 PM: Thousands of women — and those who love them — gathered in Volunteer Park Saturday afternoon for a march against hate organized to counter a tide of misogyny and stand up against efforts to roll back women’s rights under the incoming Trump administration. Here are a few glimpses from the crowd and images from CHS for the day’s rally and procession from Volunteer Park to Cal Anderson via 12th Ave and Broadway.

Police estimated between 3,000 and 4,000 marchers participated.

“When we see bigotry and when we see discrimination, we need to have the courage, the strength, and the passion to denounce it,” organizer Kelsey Coleman said as she addressed the crowd waiting in Volunteer Park before the start of the march. “And to show people of all ethnicities, all orientations, all genders, and all religions that we stand beside them.” Continue reading

Art museum’s expansion faces review amid opposition from Volunteer Park neighbors

As officials try to help steer a planned $49 million overhaul and expansion of Volunteer Park’s 83-year-old Seattle Asian Art Museum toward a 2019 celebration of a new life for the cultural center, residents of the wealthy neighborhoods surrounding the park have rallied to oppose the plan as it enters a key environmental review.

From protectvolunteerpark.org, a citizen-created site dedicated to stopping the expansion of the museum:

Send comment letters to PRC@seattle.gov and be sure to reference Master Use Project # 3024753. You can also enter this number at this City web site to see project documents. In commenting on an environmental review, it is helpful to reference questions from the SEPA Environmental Checklist such as: What views in the immediate vicinity would be altered or obstructed? Would the proposed project displace any existing recreational uses? What measures do you propose to avoid, minimize or mitigate for deliberate impacts to historic structures or cultural resources?

As of Monday, around twenty letter writers had answered the call. You can see some of their thoughts above. And here, below. The good news is you, too, can be a Seattle Asian Art Museum Master Use Permit commenter — your email to PRC@seattle.gov referencing project #3024753 is due by Wednesday, November 30th. UPDATE: The city has been petitioned to hold a public meeting on the land use approval. It has been scheduled for December 15th at Miller Community Center. In the meantime, you can continue to provide public comment via email or at the upcoming meeting. Continue reading