Letter to Edmonds City Council and Mayor Dave Earling: Ellie Bonanno’s death tragic, preventable

Edmonds City Council President
Edmonds City Councilmembers
Mayor Earling

A week ago today at 9 o’clock in the morning (PST) I chatted on the phone with my good friend and former neighbor Ellie Bonanno who lived at 820 Walnut Street since the late 1950’s. I lived for nearly 10 years at 801 Walnut and now reside in Pittsburgh, Penn.

That very afternoon upon returning from the walk she had told me she was going to take because the weather was nice, she was hit by a car going East (up hill) on Walnut so close to her house on what we called “the racetrack”.

Ellie’s death is a cruel and tragic irony as she and I (and other neighbors) complained many times to the police regarding speeding cars on our street. I was extremely concerned for the safety of the children and many elderly people who live in our block.

I spoke with Mayor Haakenson, the Police Chief and his assistant several times regarding this grave problem which cost Ellie her life. The speed limit is 25 miles per hour on Walnut and I would dare to say that the vast majority of cars are over the limit going down as well as up the hill by the time they are in front of my old house at 801. I asked for a police car to be parked a couple of times to monitor the traffic. One came in the middle of the afternoon parked by my garden and the policeman I spoke with at that time said the traffic was “not bad enough” and yes “many cars were over the speed limit”. No tickets that I know were ever written.

I asked for speed bumps to be installed and was told by the Assistant Chief of Police that that would damage the ambulance and fire trucks that sometimes are on the street. I asked for an electronic sign showing the cars speed limit to be placed by my garden and indeed one appeared once and was left for a couple of days. It did help actually and I asked for one to be installed permanently but was told by the Assistant Chief of Police that it would be too expensive and since there was no school nearby they would not do it,even though some school age kids use the pathway between Walnut and Alder to go to and from the F. Anderson Center for diverse classes. I asked for a pedestrian crossing with flags to be put where the two parts of 8th Avenue are joined through the Alder and Walnut pathway but was told that every crossroad is actually considered a pedestrian crosswalk. There was no need for the expense. I got nowhere with help concerning this on going problem on our street.

I feel strongly that the Police and the City who are supposed to protect the citizens have gravely failed in their duty. Edmonds is touted as a walkable city yet cars are allowed to speed on residential streets with total impunity. I almost go hit myself in a crosswalk and had I not jumped out of the way, I would have been hit!!! The driver did not even slow down! At 85 but very spry and lucid for her age, Ellie was not so lucky.

I would like to suggest that the whole town should use this tragedy and turn it into a positive step. Instead of wasting 2 million dollars on yet another study: Sunset Avenue, use that money to make this town SAFE FOR PEDESTRIANS. It will attract more visitors than yet more concrete in an area that is still so quaint and still natural. (Rather than concrete pathway, why not just do some landscaping and keep sand and grass underfoot on Sunset! Concrete is not “green” which Edmonds touts itself to be!)

When I moved to Edmonds in 2001 Ellie approached me to gain my help in getting the pathway between Alder and Walnut re-opened as it had been before the neighbor at 802 Alder blocked it off with a wooden fence thus forbidding the city right of way of 8th avenue to the public: both driveways of 802 and 724 Alder are on public land and usable by the public. Ellie and I persevered and forged ahead with opening this space for the public, braving snarling dogs, water squirting devices and other incidents even involving 911 calls created by the neighbor at 802. Ellie was so brave and strong through it all. After much involvement with Mayor Haakinson, his staff, and ultimately the City Council the lovely path that so many people enjoy today was created by the city. If Ellie had not started the process this path would not have happened.

I would like to respectfully request that this small path between Alder and Walnut be named THE ELLIE BONANNO PATHWAY in her honor and that a prominent sign be affixed to the existing signs on Alder and Walnut. She used the path every time she would go for her almost daily walk, wearing her favorite bright color pink jacket most of the time. Undoubtedly she used it walking back to her house the day she was hit on Walnut Street aka The Racetrack…

Edmonds lost a lot when Ellie was killed. She was a great loving mother, grandmother and a great friend to all. She still was working ushering at her beloved Mariner’s ball park; she touched so many lives through her long years of being a teacher. She loved gardening and shared that love introducing me to her beloved Floretum Garden Club; she was so very generous and kind. She also was an activist not afraid to fight for what was right, with courage, kindness and a great sense of humor. She is thoroughly missed and mourned by so many. Had the city listened to my pleas for help may be she would still be her.

Betty Larman

 

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12 Comments

  1. Dear Betty, Thank you for your loving tribute to your dear friend, Ellie Bonanno; I second this idea to name the pathway to honor her. I’m sorry for your loss.

  2. I really appreciate your tribute to your friend. I also agree that cars should slow down on that street – it is a very steep hill. Money should definitely be spent to increase safety for pedestrians.

  3. Betty expressed very well that we lost a wonderful woman when Ellie was hit on Walnut. We need stop signs, or speed bumps to slow traffic. A campaign for pedestrian awareness is another worth while effort. I have noticed so many times as I cross 9th Avenue that drivers are focused on cars and only rarely look for people waiting to cross. I think there are many citizens willing to work for better, safer streets. Let’s not wait.

  4. Thank you Betty for your well thought our letter. Our neighborhood is struggling to overcome our loss of Ellie and yes, we do expect our city to do something to make our street safer. To have two paths converge onto Walnut Street and have no crosswalk or signage as people cross the street makes no sense! Ellie was the joy of our street and will be missed!

  5. Was very sad to hear the news. I worked with Ellie at the Mariners and she was everyone’s favorite usher on the suite level! I have since moved to Bend, OR but think of Ellie often and was delighted to see her smiling face and visit with her when I attended a game this past Fall. She will be missed greatly!

  6. This tragic preventable accident should be a wake-up call to all citizens of Edmonds. It appears to me (after only being here a short 4 years!) that many, many FOUNDATION elements of this small 39,000 person municipality have been dangerously left undone and unkept with no regular upkeep, care, or vision. I learned a long time ago (and in ART school!!) that one cannot BUILD anything without a good FOUNDATION. The streets and sidewalks in Edmonds are the very FOUNDATION of this small town. We see an unusual amount of Public Works vehicles on the street, ALL THE TIMES and yet, dangerous streets here and dangerous sidewalks. I spent most of my life in metropolitan Seattle and NEVER saw as many Public Works vehicles as we have here and yet the sidewalks and streets in Seattle, most not considered dangerous to walk or drive. When I mentioned 4 years ago that people coming from out of town would comment on the streets…….I believe the head of these things at the time said there were many streets (as in too many….)…..Oh really!

    This tragic preventable loss can be turned into something positive for Edmonds if the citizens demand accountability. ALL the MILLIONS being spent for other things that most citizens agree are FRIVOLOUS and a waste of $$$……Sunset Avenue comes to mind and Five Corners. This morning we walked the train line by the station and noticed red marks all over. When we inquired, we were told there is going to be a MAJOR renovation (assuming for MILLIONS of our tax dollars….website for “Greatamericanstations.com/Stations/EDM/Station-view, spells it out) and I’m looking at a brick building done in 1971 and wondering WHY?. And I was going to take art photographs of the interior because of how quaint it is…..We walk by here all the time and call it the ghost station because there is hardly ever very many people here anywhere…..For the trains, the Dept. of Transportation mentioned the lower rider-ship with about only 1200 only a couple weeks ago …..We have also never seen hardly any people at the buses……hence “ghost station”.

    Makes one wonder what ALL of this tear down, rip apart, rebuild, etc constantly is REALLY about.

    The citizens need to start asking the big questions of our elected officials, people they appoint for different commisions, etc. Someone having a linked in page with nothing on it but what they’ve done in Edmonds doesn’t quite tell the whole big picture.

    Let Mrs. Bonanos legacy and this tragic loss be something that has long time, changing affects for this town….. Let’s not wait for more people to be injured or die and more wasted tax dollars spent. Let’s expect, at the very least, a safe FOUNDATION for this town.

  7. I totally agree that this was a preventable tragedy. I am so sorry for the loss of this wonderful woman. I have had the same experience with the police department regarding speeding along third Avenue. By the time the cars heading south, approach Main Street, they have frequently accelerated far past the 35 mile-per-
    hour speed limit. I am a resident who lives at the intersection of third and Bell and have witnessed many, many near miss accidents and too many actual collisions. My concerns have been ignored by the police department. Even though, myself
    and my neighbors know that we are just waiting until someone is seriously injured or killed, we are baffled by the fact that there has not been anything done. Let’s not wait until another needless tragedy occurs. What will it take to get the police department to be proactive? I suggested to the police department that perhaps we should address this with the city Council, just to be told that the city Council could do nothing about it. I am out of ideas.

  8. What citizens have witnessed in their neighborhoods – speeding, rolling stops, driving on the wrong side of the road, texting while driving, etc. – is the norm throughout our city. Our city has simply got to come up with more resources for our police department that will be dedicated to traffic enforcement. This may require a re-ordering of priorities, but so be it. Concerned citizens need to attend a city council meeting and state their concerns when “Audience Comments” are taken; you will be limited to 3 minutes.

    Citizens should also remember that Police have not yet announced, unless I missed it, the cause of this terrible tragedy on Walnut Street.

  9. Same issues and concerns on the East side of town. I have clearly explained the pedestrian safety issues on 216th SW, from Hwy 99 up to the hospital entrance. No safe way for folks to cross 216th. No controls over cars speeding up and down the street. Five of seven wheelchair ramps not ADA compliant. This area has a good number of seniors and folks using wheelchairs. Last week I witnessed a car, backing out from the angled parking @ Value Village, almost strike a woman in her wheelchair. This chair-bound woman noted that it has happened before @ the same location. So there is no response from the City…other than building a walkway along Sunset Street, and a high-end crosswalk on Main St., between 6th and 5th, where there is little need for such a luxury. When will the City address known pedestrian problems?? The citizens have done their part.

  10. I would be interested to find out what happened thats no way to die. i wonder if she slipped and fell in the street, There also are way too many people on there phones while driving now I wish the cops would start writing those people tickets

  11. Tere Ryder, I agree with the foundation concept. There appears to be a major plan but the plan it involves projects that go against what the citizens of Edmonds really want. Tere, please consider running for City Council, I will vote for you!

  12. You you can go on and on about foundation this and that and change the world etc etc never happen, but there are some simple questions that have to be asked and answered 1 What happened. 2 Was it preventable. 3 What can we do to prevent this from happening again? Until those questions are answered . there is no point in speculating or coming up with these ideas to change the world, accidents happen real easy and real fast, if I was a city employee or had anything to do with public safety i would want to know those things first sometimes stuff just happens and its nobodys fault she could have slipped the cars brakes could have failed . Lets just find out what happened

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