Word on the Street

The latest news in and around Tacoma, Pierce County and South Puget Sound

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Archives: March 2009


Homeless veterans can get services at Stand-Down

Pacific Norhwest Stand-Down will welcome homeless veterans to the Peoples Community Center, 1602 Martin Luther King Way, Thursday, March 26, from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The event aims to connect the vets to the services they need to become safe and stable once again. Those include housing and employment referrals, medical and dental screenings, meals, clothing, haircuts, and someone to process Veterans’ Administration claims.

Partners in the event include Goodwill Industries of Tacoma, MetroParks, Pierce County Veterans’ Bureau, the Salvation Army, Employment Security, and the U.S. and Washington State Disabled Veterans Administration.

That’s a good

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Gateways to Lakewood

It might not be the "Biggest Little City" sign that welcomes visitors to Reno, NV, but Lakewood might get a pair of its own gateways along a busy street.

City staff gave an update on the effort to build a pair of welcome signs along Bridgeport Way Southwest on Monday night.

One gateway would be located at the north end of Bridgeport near Wal-Mart; the other would be the busy intersection at Pacific Highway Southwest.

Lakewood, along with a dedicated group of 10 or so residents named Keep Lakewood Beautiful,

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Tacoma Rail’s rapid response rocks

Tacoma Rail may have clocked the fastest-ever remedy to a neighborhood’s complaint.

The rotten economy has slowed the railroad business along with everything else. That means fewer cars are hauling freight, and more are sitting idle. Tacoma Rail makes most of its money by running cars, but its managers are using sidings to store cars. The demurrage fees paid by the car owners help support the city-owned railroad.

Two sets of those cars were working for and against a healthy city.

Since early February, several strings of black tanker cars had sat idle on sidings between 72nd

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Anti-war protesters turn out in Federal Way to say six years is too long

Joe Colgan’s anti-war message was personal Thursday night as he flashed the peace sign with his hand while drivers honked at one of Federal Way’s busiest intersections.

On the sixth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Colgan protested in the memory of his son, Lt. Benjamin Colgan, 30, who was killed by a roadside explosive device in Baghdad in 2003.

"This is the main reason I’m protesting – to witness that violence is alive," said Colgan, 67, an Army veteran who lives in Kent.

Colgan was among 20 protesters who stood and sat during rush hour Thursday at the corners of South 320tth Street and Pacific Highway South.

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Open space brouhaha in UP

A 12-acre parcel owned by University Place is creating a stir among residents.

The city took ownership of the wooded area off Crystal Springs Road West as part of a 2007 land swap with the local school district. In return, UP schools received Colegate Park.

Last year, the city hired a consultant to examine how the property could be used if UP sold it for residential development.

The results ranged from developing the land — which Pierce County assessed at $2.9 million this year — into four large lots to building up to 40 "cottage-style" homes, said Eric Faison, the city’s project manager.

But neighbors who live around the forested area shouldn’t be touched.

Word has gotten around in the Crystal Springs Road-82nd Avenue Court West area. On March 5, Mark and Karen Viafore (who say they’re cousins with David Viafore of Fircrest fame) circulated a letter to neighbors talking about the ill effects of development, including loss of open space, increased traffic and reduced property values.

They argue that selling the land is a crutch to help pay for UP’s struggling Town Center project.

In the weeks since they circulated the letter, about 50 other neighbors have joined the fight. The group’s message: leave the open space alone.

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Sprout! Now!

I’ve never seen a year in which gardeners were so ready to address the economy, the environment and the nature of the community. Give a good part of the credit to Alicia Lawver and The Growing Conversation’s blogging and organizational work. All through the winter, that communication has acted like a cold frame for good ideas. This week, those notions are ready to sprout all over Tacoma.

Thursday evening it’s still about the talk. Saturday will get boots in the mud.

Thursday, if you manage your time, you could hit two out of three presentations:

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Welcome to St. Anthony Hospital – UPDATED

If you’re into that new-building smell and Gig Harbor-area culture, St. Anthony might be your hospital heaven.

The area’s first large-scale hospital opened its doors today, giving residents from the Gig Harbor, Key Peninsula and Kitsap County areas a closer option for emergency and other medical treatment.

Of course, many of the people who live west of the Tacoma Narrows have been waiting for St. Anthony’s opening since 2003, when the state gave Franciscan Health System its blessing to build the 80-bed hospital.

But there’s been a buzz over St. Anthony’s first day the last week or so. I wrote about its opening over the weekend, but I couldn’t resist checking it out for myself today.

Making my way up Canterwood Boulevard Northwest, I was struck at how the 260,000-square-foot building was barely visible from Highway 16.

Once you’re in sight, St. Anthony’s grandeur can hit you like an errant ball from the nearby Canterwood Golf & Country Club.

The visitor parking was packed, although it’s unclear whether those were actually visitors or staff.

Construction workers were still putting the finishing touches on the place, as evidence by a couple of men trying to figure out why the main lobby’s automatic door wasn’t opening.

The oohs and aahs continue once you’re inside the main lobby. The whole place looks out on a courtyard with a rock-and-water feature, as well as the area’s vast acres of trees.

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Proposed South End cell phone tower on hold

An application to build a cell phone tower near the corner of South 48th Street and Yakima Avenue is on hold following the discovery of another tower nearby.

The application, which is opposed by the South End Neighborhood Council, was placed on hold March 2, said Charla Heutinck, land use administration planner for the city.

The applicant, T-Mobile, must provide the city with a technical reason why the new tower cannot be co-located with the existing tower at 4818 South J Street, Heutinck said.

If the city has not heard from T-Mobile after 120 days, officials may close out the application, Heutinck said. So far, the city has not heard from T-Mobile, she said Thursday.

The South End Neighborhood Council objects to the location of the proposed tower in an empty lot next to the old Superior TV building, 4638 S. Yakima Ave., arguing that it poses a potential health risk because at 59-feet 11-inches it would not be tall enough to clear some of the surrounding homes.

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