Moving on: MP, emergency hub leader leaving community

Bob Edmiston, left, speaks during an emergency preparation field trip taken with other members of the Madison Park emergency hub group.

Bob Edmiston, left, speaks during an emergency preparation field trip taken with other members of the Madison Park emergency hub group.
Margie Carter

Bob Edmiston has only lived in Madison Park for 15 years, but he has accomplished a lot in that time, merging interests and hobbies he has developed in his life with his involvement in community organizations to leave his mark on various projects.

Now the community advocate, bicyclist and HAM radio operator is leaving the neighborhood for good as he and his wife eye retirement outside of Seattle.

Street safety improvements

Edmiston served on the Madison Park Community Council for about five years leaving a year or two before it shuttered because of the pandemic. 

His community advocacy intertwined with his hobby of bike riding, and he joined Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, a safe-street organization, and started the offshoot Madison Park Greenways.

“So out of that, that got me started with the Community Council because I knew if I wanted to make a difference in my neighborhood, it would help if I were working with a group of people to get things done,” Edmiston said.

As a member of the Community Council and Madison Park Greenways, Edmiston rallied volunteers to apply for grants and make street safety improvements at a couple of different dangerous intersections in town, including 37th Avenue and Madison Avenue, where the golf course is. Those improvements were spurred when a child was hit by a car while riding a bike to school.

They also had four blocks of Madison Park on Garfield and 37th Avenue East assigned a neighborhood greenway, including two blocks going to McGilvra Elementary School. Edmiston said, in doing so, the traffic has been calmed and is safe for pedestrians of all ages. The last project was safety improvements at McGilvra and Madison, prompted by a collision between a bike, car and pedestrian near the Wells Fargo Bank, which motivated the group to have the entire intersection reconfigured through a $290,000 grant obtained by the Community Council and Madison Park Greenways organization.

“So that whole intersection is a lot safer than it was before,” Edmiston said.

Knowing he is leaving the community having led the projects to fix the two most dangerous intersections in Madison Park makes him proud, he said.

Emergency preparation

In more recent years, Edmiston has been involved in the Madison Park Emergency Hub team with other like-minded individuals concerned about preparing the community to respond during an emergency, such as a natural disaster.

His interest in emergency planning developed while growing up in California, just outside of the Silicon Valley. Once or twice a year, he said, extreme snowstorms would shut down the city for a week, and he and his family would have to rely on supplies and firewood. Growing up in California, he also experienced mudslides, earthquakes, floods and other emergencies.

“So, the idea of planning for such outages has always been part of my upbringing,” Edmiston said.

His hobby and enthusiasm for radios formed growing up in California, as well, he said. Living in the foothills of the mountains, communicating with friends was challenging as phone service was not reliable. Talking over the radio, however, was much more effective and fun, Edmiston said, and later, as an adult, he opted to pursue his ham radio license.

Edmison said he saw a way to put his radio and emergency preparedness interests to good use in Madison Park when John Madrid, who was heading up the Madison Park Emergency Prep team at the time, was seeking volunteers for the emergency hub team, specifically someone with a radio background. Edmiston said he volunteered because he knew he could bring his skills as a certified ham radio operator to the neighborhood emergency preparation efforts and providing a communication component. His involvement made sense because he was already a member of the Seattle Auxiliary Communications Service, a team of trained volunteers serving the city of Seattle by providing communications during emergencies when other channels aren’t available.

“I saw this as a good opportunity to bring together emergency hubs and the communications people,” Edmiston said, adding, at one point, before the pandemic, the Madison Park Emergency Prep ham radio setup was the best it has ever been with a microwave link that could go from Madison Park to a peak behind Gold Bar. From there, they could access a communication network to get online and communicate via text or email. They could also use that digital connection to dial out of a phone center in Colorado.

“So, in an emergency, imagine being able to dial out of Colorado,” Edmiston said.

Moving on

Even though a move from Seattle is imminent, Edmiston said he is not worried about the future of the Madison Park Emergency Preparation Team because it has more than one person spearheading efforts, a growing group of volunteers and another person who tested this month for her ham radio certification.

“These volunteers are very committed and passionate and having multiple leaders helping each other, it really makes it stronger than it’s ever been,” he said.

He encourages people who are interested in ham radios and becoming an amateur radio operator to look into taking classes to become certified and join the emergency prep team.

“It’s an opportunity for the next ham radio operator to grow the skill and the opportunity to grow the hub,” Edmiston said.

He said he will miss Madison Park and is proud of what he has accomplished as a community member.  

“Looking back on it, I did a lot here. It’s kind of crazy,” Edmiston said.

“I’m most proud of leaving the community in better shape than when I arrived,” he added.

He does plan to continue with his community involvement wherever he and his wife end up in their retirement.

“I’ve developed a lot of knowledge and skills, and I want see that continue to develop and grow and be useful in whatever community I end up,” Edmiston said.