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