20/20 vision

Indelicate balance

Saw the article in the Queen Anne News today re: Fire Station 20 ("Vote split on Fire Station 20 in city council committee," July 26) ... expected a balanced viewpoint from you [Russ Zabel] as we discussed on the phone.

Concerned Neighbors of Fire Station 20 have never said we think "just about anywhere else would be preferable to the current location"! We are very fact-based in our proposals for alternative sites that meet the explicit site selection criteria of this important public facility in our community.

We have submitted those specific sites, along with our analysis to [City C]ouncil members. We are not waving our arms saying "NIMBY." What started as a small grassroots frustration tied to a violation of community process and the surprise of absolute, imminent condemnation of single-family homes in our residential neighborhood has now led to the reality that the research, supporting documentation and selection process for the location of a public-safety facility in our community is sorely lacking in pertinent supporting analysis. It was not our expectation to discover this.

We were very surprised to see up-front quotes from the only public voice in support of the condemnation, the directly affected homeowner who has not been involved in our efforts and who has not reviewed materials prepared by the fire department and Fleets & Facilities Department and therefore without credible knowledge of whether due diligence has been made. In contrast, the words put forth by another directly impacted homeowner who has been involved and seen the work of the fire department and Fleets & Facilities was not included. This homeowner is standing with the neighborhood, despite their ability to cash out and walk away, because they have seen the information and they believe in making the right decision for the neighborhood and for public safety in our city. Not to mention the numerous other public comments made in opposition to the condemnations!

This would have made your most recent article appropriately balanced.

Valerie Paganelli

Concerned Neighbors of Fire Station 20, vbpaganelli@qwest.net, 437-7321

Value of research

As a founding member of Concerned Neighbors of Fire Station No. 20, I take offense to [Russ Zabel's] article in the Queen Anne News, July 26.

You wrote this article without research or confirmation. Your cavalier treatment of this subject has forever cast a looming shadow of doubt over everything that you write. I will admit that I am not at all familiar with your writing even being a lifelong Queen Anne resident, but it is painfully obvious that you will publish anything that anyone tells you or even what you think you heard.

You falsely represented CNFS No. 20 as having said that we would be happy to have the [station] anywhere else. That is not something that we have ever said nor a position that we hold.

You quoted only one of the home-owners and without knowing her motivation or understanding of the situation. She is entitled to her opinion, but that is all it is. You didn't talk to the other adjacent neighbors to find out what they are thinking about this subject.

You printed Chief Dean's statement about fire trucks having to merge with speeding traffic on 15th Avenue West, apparently without even a second thought. You obviously haven't a clue where the 15th Avenue West sites are, but that's OK because the chief didn't really, either.

There are traffic signals at each of the sites that control the traffic flow as a normal daily routine. In the case of an emergency run by a fire vehicle, the operation of the lights is taken over by the fire station just like they are at the majority of the fire stations around the city.

You also didn't give any thought to the chief saying that the trucks would have a problem negotiating on-ramps and off-ramps from the 3800 block of 13th Avenue West. That is what fire trucks have to do no matter where they come from. That truck operates off that intersection all the time by the crew's choice. Think about the area near 13th Avenue West and Nickerson; no, on second thought, just trust me like you do everyone else.

We are talking about a truck that the chief has said is going to stay the same for many years to come. It's a 32,000# GVWR chassis. As trucks go, it is relatively small. It has a cab-forward design and a short wheelbase, which means that it turns really quickly and in a short radius. It was designed to easily negotiate urban streets.

Concerned Neighbors of Fire Station No. 20 have invested hundreds of hours on research, using hard data available to anyone with the tenacity to find it. We have presented facts, not opinion, in an honest and forthright manner.

Rather than having your byline on every article in the Queen Anne News, wouldn't it be better to spend more time researching fewer pieces for quality, not just spewing out unsubstantiated, misrepresented and ill-conceived theories?

Ross Budden

Queen Anne

Kinda wasted his precious time

The piece Mr. Zabel authored last week regarding the Fire [Station] 20 issue is inaccurate and inept.

That article reduces the credibility of the newspaper as a whole.

I see no reason to waste my time reading anything in your paper as I cannot trust the information.

As circulation diminishes similar to the industry in general, even the ads will become less viable.

The future and use of newspapers in general is diminishing because of the new technologies (convenient computer access to information; cable TV). However, articles like Mr. Zabel hastens the devaluation of your specific newspaper.

In my case, as of now, I am through with your newspaper based on the worthlessness of material. I would embarrass myself by using his information.  

He and your newspaper are no longer worth my time.

John Vanderwel

Queen Anne

Issue of conscience

[Russ Zabel's] article in the current QA news did seem to me to be somewhat unbalanced in its coverage.

Although the homeowner [he] quoted is certainly entitled to express her opinion, however misinformed, [Zabel] should have presented the opposing view in more depth. [My partner] and I would have cut and run a long time ago if we could have justified it ethically. We love our home, but the stress of this situation has been tremendous, almost unbearable.

It would have been so much easier to cash out and go away. Unlike [the neighbor who was quoted], we intend to stay in the neighborhood, win or lose. How could we face our neighbors, or our own consciences, if we sold out without justification?

We love our firefighters, and want them to have the improvements that they need, but because we believe in doing the right thing, we continue to stand with our neighbors in opposition to the current plan. We have seen with our own eyes the evidence that this location is no longer the best for the service area, based on the fire department's own criteria. Fleets and Facilities' tired rhetoric doesn't hold up under close scrutiny.

I know that early on [the News] gave us some good coverage, although at that time our information was not so complete. We were extremely distressed to see such a one-sided presentation in our media so close to a critical vote. One would almost think you were taking sides.

Chris Grekoff

Homeowner under threat of condemnation

Editor Richard T. Jameson replies:

In an era when one cable-TV news network has made a travesty of the phrase "fair and balanced," it's not surprising to find people crying "Imbalance!" when they really mean, "You didn't write that the way I wanted it."

Columnists are at liberty to take sides, and writers of Letters to the Editor almost always do so. The News, when reporting a community controversy, does not enjoy that privilege. Nor do we imaginably have a dog in this fight over Fire Station 20.

We stand by Russ Zabel's story and by its balance. However, we fess up to one sloppy line: "...Concerned Neighbors of Fire Station 20 have said that just about anywhere else would be preferable to the current location." That's the kind of remark understandably exasperated people - concerned neighbors - do make (and made) in conversation. But carelessly allowing the inference that it was made as an official, public position statement of the organization Concerned Neighbors (capital C, capital N) is regrettable. For that, the News apologizes.

As for the imminent demise of newspapers: It's true that the general dailies are having a hard time - but community weeklies are thriving. Mr. Twain, what was that you were saying about the reports of our death?...

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