Madison Park Scene


By Daniel Beekman

Try to imagine building an asphalt trail through the exhibition halls of the Seattle Art Museum — wending your way around paintings and sculptures, or through the Burke Museum — dodging dinosaur bones, carvings and masks.

That’s what it was like to design and construct Washington Park Arboretum’s loop trail, which quietly opened to walkers, runners and cyclists in November. In laying 1.2 miles of pavement, the team building the trail took painstaking care to protect the arboretum’s 230-acre collection of 20,000 trees and other plants from around the world.

The meandering route, lined with 18 benches cast in a classic style from the 1939 New York World’s Fair, runs all the way from East Madison Street to the Graham Visitors Center between Lake Washington Boulevard East and the arboretum’s iconic Azalea Way.

“You can think about the arboretum as a living museum — that’s how we treat it,” said Fred Hoyt, interim director of the University of Washington Botanic Gardens, which manages the tree sanctuary in cooperation with Seattle Parks and Recreation.

The trail descends below Pacific Rim foliage, crosses over Arboretum Creek, stretches through a restored wetland and skirts past sturdy walnuts and oaks.

Ushering visitors into the park from East Madison Street and connecting with the existing Arboretum Drive to create an approximately 2-mile recreational loop, the $7.8 million trail presented parks project manager Garrett Farrell with a number of unique challenges.

Farrell had to avoid tree cutting wherever possible, work with botanical experts, contend with rainy weather and boggy terrain and rebid the project in order to make the budget work during a construction boom, scrapping concrete walls in favor of rockery.

Before breaking ground in 2016, the project’s team designed the trail six times on paper, plotted the route with stakes and poles and blew away a layer of soil to determine where there were important tree roots in harm’s way. Local company Ohno Construction was the contractor.

The team altered the route to work around some trees, moved others and turned those they had to cut into landscape elements and snags where wildlife can thrive.

Including trees planted in the arboretum and around Washington Park Playfield, the complex has gained seven new trees for every tree cut down, Farrell said.

“If we had been building a road, we would have been done a long time ago,” he said. “What we did was bob and weave through the arboretum’s collection.”

That precision was costly, eating up more than $1,000 per foot of pavement in a city where better schools and homeless shelters are needed. But the money in this case came from a mitigation fund for the Highway 520 bridge-replacement project.

“The new bridge is taking another bite out of the arboretum,” Farrell said.

Seward Park and Taylor Creek water projects in South Seattle are among other recipients of Highway 520 mitigation money, according to the state transportation department.

Hoyt says advocates reacted cautiously when the trail was proposed years ago, concerned about damage to trees and other environmental impacts.

The project included construction of a larger parking lot downhill from Azaela Way, adding asphalt in a part of the arboretum where drainage already was a problem.

But it also included the clearing away of blackberry bushes, the installation of bioswales and the daylighting and restoration of a section of Arboretum Creek.

Mallard ducks paddled there on a recent afternoon, soaking up rays of sunlight that reach the new stretch of trail with more intensity than along shady Arboretum Drive.

Three bridges with iron railings cross the creek, which had been buried underground, and the restoration work has opened up new east-west vistas across the arboretum. Even in the winter, the trail is getting a lot of use, Farrell said.

“This used to be an impenetrable blackberry thicket,” Farrell said. “Unless you were super able-bodied, this area was off-limits to you.”

Access is something Jane Stonecipher, Arboretum Foundation interim director, appreciates about the loop. The trail is giving new life to a neglected area and allowing older visitors, who can no longer use the arboretum’s dirt paths, to ride a tram through.

There were concerns that a bikeable trail parallel to Lake Washington Boulevard East would become a thruway for speedsters, so the route is purposefully sinuous.

Signs remind cyclists the speed limit is 10 mph, and Stonecipher believes they can coexist alongside the stroller-pushers, botanists and tree-huggers. A grand opening is planned for April 8.

“I like how we’re bringing different users to the arboretum,” she said. “People can come for the recreation and come back when they realize this is such a unique place.”

Syndicated from the Seattle Times. Featured photo source Ellen M. Banner/The Seattle Times.

By Megan Hill

Originally conceived and crowdfunded — unsuccessfully — in fall 2016 as a Capitol Hill fine-dining restaurant called Galerie 23, chef Rob Sevcik’s restaurant project has been scaled back and is now set to open later this month in Madison Valley as Petite Galerie. He’ll preview the food with dinners held February 14 to 17.

Sevcik has spent time in Thierry Rautureau’s kitchens, including now-defunct Rover’s. Last summer, Sevcik left his role as chef de cuisine at Rautureau’s fancy French restaurant Loulay to start work on his own venture. Sevcik set lofty goals to raise $325,000 through an Indiegogo campaign, but the fundraiser fell significantly short, netting only one percent of the total. Sevcik’s Capitol Hill location also fell through.

With those plans scrapped, Sevcik instead renovated the former Oh Chocolates space at 3131 E Madison St. in Madison Valley. Sevcik says to expect an “elegant brasserie serving lunch and dinner” and a menu of “French-influenced New American” food with approachable pricing.

The dinner menu will include small plates — hinted at by the “Petite” in the restaurant’s name — with plenty of options for various dietary preferences. Dishes are divided into four categories, including “land” and “heaven” sections that most diners will recognize as meat and dessert. Diners can choose to eat family-style, select dishes to be coursed out, or simply ask to be placed in the chef’s hands based on preferences and proclivities.

Lunch will be slightly less abstruse, with open-faced sandwiches, soups, salads, quiches, and chilled seafood options like crab, tuna, prawns, and lobster. Sevcik is also planning to offer an Italian soda that diners mix at the table.

Sevcik is offering invite-only preview dinners to select diners from February 14 through 17. Diners can order from an a la carte menu or choose a four-course meal priced at $95 per person; both options include free beverage pairings. Items range from whole lobster with saffron butter to seared wagyu rib caps to roasted whole quail. To request an invitation, interested parties are encouraged to call the restaurant at (206) 588-1682.

Syndicated from

By Ranji Sinha

How about being greeted with graffiti in the New Year??

That’s the situation for several homeowners in one Seattle neighborhood. Some of them alerted KIRO 7 to a few acts of vandalism, and our crews ended up finding some more.

Most of it was graffiti, and graffiti of any type carries a message, but the messages in the Madison Valley section of Seattle appeared to target certain homes with phrases such as “Eat the Rich” and “Yuppies.”

Graffiti art is in the eye of the beholder, but when the message writ large on someone’s home is “Eat the Rich” or advocates hurting police with the phrase “Kill Cops” or highlights anarchists, the message and messengers can seem clear.

The graffiti found New Year’s Day targeted new or renovated properties in the Madison Valley, and at least one piece of graffiti defaced a sign for an empty lot where homes haven’t even been built.

One homeowner who asked that we not use his name says he spent New Year’s Day wiping away the graffiti in his front yard.

“Saw it happen to a neighbor three blocks down, somebody had written ‘eat the rich’ on this house. So we were coming back from a walk from the Arboretum and saw as we came somebody had written ‘Kill Cops’ on our fence.”

He says that he recognizes the political bent from phrases like “Eat the Rich” but also wonders if the political message could be sent without defacing someone’s home.

“I empathize with a lot of things that are happening in the world, but I don’t think that’s the right approach.”

Other vandalism included a smashed pickup truck window.

All of it bothered Mario Estany, who says he’s lived near 29th Avenue East for 11 years, kept an eye on things, even cleaned his own street, only to see furniture dumped on corners, and now spray-painted properties,

“I sweep because I love to do community service … It’s so wrong,” he said of the graffiti.

Estany says the lesson to not deface things came at an early age in his native Cuba.

“I want to write something on the walls in my house in Cuba. They say, ‘NO, you have paper!’”

Madison Valley has seen changes that some would call gentrification. Newer homes, new construction and some remodeling are the norm, and in 2018, Seattle is poised to keep changing in a similar fashion, and some class conflict could come with it.

The person who wrote the graffiti decrying the wealthy or relatively well-to-do and the new resident in a new home who has to clean it may both think “There goes the neighborhood.”

Estany’s solution for both is simple: “Paint something beautiful.”

Residents said the Seattle Police Department took photos to catalog the graffiti. Seattle Police did respond to several reported incidents in the areas of 29th and 30th Ave East.

Syndicated from

Volunteer Park Cafe is bidding adieu to 2017 with a gorgeous meal on Sunday, December 31. The menu includes prawns, sole, duck breast, and a filet of beef with butter-poached potatoes and turnips—and to top it all off: Molten chocolate cake with orange crème anglaise and blood orange. The dinner is at 7pm and is $95/person, or $130 with wine pairings. Reservations can be made online at or by calling the restaurant at 206.328.3155.

Without further ado, here’s the menu:

Citrus Salad with prawns, cress, and avocado

Sole with shellfish stock fume, spinach, olive crumble, and smoked trout roe

Duck Breast with sweet potato, apple gastrique, pistachio, and pomegranate

Filet of Beef with butter-poached potatoes and turnips, and red wine demi-glace

Molten Chocolate Cake with orange crème anglaise and blood orange

Ring in 2018 with a celebratory meal Volunteer Park Cafe!

Opened in 2007 and located among the elegant homes of Seattle’s North Capitol Hill, Volunteer Park Cafe (VPC) is chef Ericka Burke’s quintessential neighborhood-meeting place. With mismatched vintage chairs, throw pillows tossed along banquets, and a communal table running the length of the inviting sunlit room – it’s the perfect place to spend time. The food is delicious home-style goodness, house made pastries, savory and sweet, and a selection of fresh salads, soups, and sandwiches provide daytime provisions ordered from friendly faces behind the counter. As the light dims and the candles are lit, table service begins and guests cozy in for rustic pizzas and ever-changing seasonal offerings like Braised Beef Brisket with Creamy Polenta and Greens, Pan Seared Halibut, or the heavenly Pot Pie. VPC offers a generous selection of boutique wines by the glass and bottles of wine can be enjoyed at the cafe or taken to go. VPC is open Tuesday – Friday from 7am – 4:30pm, weekends from 8am – 4:30pm, and dinner is served Tuesday – Saturday from 5:30pm – 9pm.Happy is offered Tuesday – Friday from 5:30pm – 6:30pm. For more information, call 206.328.3155 or visit

Volunteer Park Cafe is located at 1501 17th Avenue East (at Galer) in Seattle, Washington.