While campaigning for reelection on a platform of bringing help to Main Street, U.S. Sen. Patty Murray did her best to single-handedly save Ballard's main street, leaving her Oct. 28 tour of Market Street businesses with a SeafoodFest tote bulging with books, records, cupcakes and more.
Murray, who is running for reelection against challenger Dino Rossi, said Wall Street was bailed out in the past year but more needs to be done to protect Main Street, where lines of credit for small businesses have been cut off by banks.
"I really believe that these small businesses like we have visited today are the key to our economic recovery," she said.
After getting underway at La Tienda, Murray's tour of Market Street rolled on to Bop Street Records while Ballard Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Beth Miller and Cupcake Royale owner Jody Hall explained Ballard's annual Syttende Mai celebration.
One year after re-starting the project due to the bad economy, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport's new Rental Car Facility celebrated it's topping off Wednesday morning, July 14, with the help of one of the four tower cranes on-site to signal the halfway point of a project creating an estimated 3,000 jobs.
The Port of Seattle, the City of SeaTac, Turner Construction and representatives from the rental car industry and Washington State Building & Construction Trades Council placed their signatures on the top beam before it was lifted into place.
"The Port of Seattle's mission is to create economic vitality," said Port of Seattle Commissioner John Creighton. "One of the ways we do that is by building transportation infrastructure in the region. This project provides family wage jobs for our community members."
Construction on the $419 million, 23-acre site will generate more than 3,000 local, family-wage jobs and nearly $2 million in tax revenue for the City of SeaTac over the life of the project, according to Port staffers.
The facility is scheduled to open in spring of 2012.
There is talk within the city and Seattle Parks and Recreation about the closure of pools and community centers, including the Ballard Community Center and Loyal Heights Community Center, due to budget "shortfalls."
Parks is in the process of spending $15 million over the next two to three years though their Opportunity Fund on development of new parks, improvements of existing parks and acquisition of new land for parks.
In addition, Parks is in the design stage of a $500,000 play area at Golden Gardens, as well as numerous other costly nonessential projects.
In an era where there is no money to responsibly manage existing parks and invaluable indoor community gathering spaces, funds for other projects must be re-allocated to maintain what is currently serving our communities, not add more operational costs that will lead to even more closures in the future.
This needs to be a directive from the Seattle City Council and Mayor's Office.
The economic recession is affecting everyone, especially nonprofits, and the Don Jones Foundation was learning that firsthand.
The foundation, which provides gifts and food for the holidays to Seattle families in need, was forced to cancel its sixth annual garage sale because of low donations and a lack of a yard to host it.
"Unfortunately, many of our donors have been impacted by layoffs and other financial strains, so fundraising is much more difficult," said the Don Jones Foundation's Mollie Overa.
That all changed when Overa responded to a post on an online Ballard community forum from a resident who was complaining of having too much clutter.
“I had mentioned that we were low on donations and our host yard was unavailable," Overa said. "In a few hours, we had received a message that a yard was made available to us, and emails have started coming in with donations. We are so appreciative of the support of our community members.”
The garage sale is one of the Don Jones Foundation's two yearly fundraising events. Without it, they would not be able to offer support to Seattle families, Overa said.
When Loyal Heights resident Mindy Terence heard outgoing Seattle Parks and Recreation Superintendent Tim Gallagher tell KING 5 TV that the city's current budget crisis could necessitate the closure of one of Ballard's two community centers, she took action.
Joelle Hammerstad, spokesperson for Seattle Parks and Recreation, said while Gallagher can speak freely about the particulars of the budget process because he has already offered his resignation, regular employees are restricted from speaking directly about what the department calls the "deliberative process."
The city's acting budget director has asked Parks to propose reductions of 3 percent, and cuts are likely to be implemented around July 1, Hammerstad said.
Between the wide storefronts of Caffe Fiore and Zayda Buddy's Pizza and Bar on Leary Avenue is a barely noticeable staircase that is more often than not used as additional seating for the Caffe Fiore crowd.
At the top of that staircase is the Quixote Foundation, a small family foundation that hopes to make its impacts on a host of progressive causes more noticeable than its entryway.
With an April 9 announcement that it will be spending its remaining $15 million in assets by 2017, the Quixote Foundation is hoping to make that impact sooner rather than later.
The Quixote Foundation was founded in 1997 in Madison, Wisc., by Stuart Hanisch, who, as his son and current foundation president Erik Hanisch said, had more money that he needed and a family with a long history of philanthropic giving.
The foundation, which moved to Ballard in 2003, is primarily interested in the areas of environmental equity, reproductive rights, election integrity and media reform.
For the past 30 years, engineer John Olafson has been in charge of fixing water heaters, repairing electrical systems and maintaining any other nonmedical equipment at what is now Swedish/Ballard.
Swedish has been very good to him, and he said he wants to stay there until he retires. But, a disagreement with the engineers' union, which he is not a member of, over a pension plan he doesn't want is putting a dark cloud over the job he has enjoyed doing for three decades.
"I'm forced into a Central Pension Fund I don't want anything to do with," Olafson said. "I feel like I'm not being heard by the union I'm represented by but not a member of."
In 1982, the engineers at Ballard Community Hospital severed relationships with their union, Local 286. Olafson said Ballard Community Hospital took good care of the engineers until 1992 when it merged with Swedish, which is represented by Local 286.
"Not too many of us wanted anything to do with that union," Olafson said.
He said fear for his job led him to try to join Local 286. The union said he could join if he could convince a majority of his coworkers to join, he said.
Because of recent concerns over the health of the environment and the health of pocketbooks, the federal government has been pushing for weatherizing homes and businesses to prevent the loss of energy.
Windovative Design, a Bellingham-based company expanding to Seattle, is trying to make it easier for businesses located in historical buildings, such as Divine Spine on the third floor of the Old Ballard Firehouse, to do just that.
"The government is starting to realize that this is really important – that conservation is the easiest form of energy renewal," said Van Calvez, owner of Windovative Design.
Up to 40 percent of a typical energy bill can be covering energy lost through single-paned windows, Calvez said.
Derek Strachen from Divine Spine said he wanted to weatherize his windows because he always had an interest in doing something to help the environment and keep energy costs down.
Calvez said weatherizing historic buildings can often be a challenge because people want to keep the old windows and replacement windows are often too expensive.
Exterior storm windows can also be difficult to install on taller buildings, he said.