Off the Press

July 19, 2011

One good mania deserves another

After a decade of sweeping readers and moviegoers off their feet with a school named Hogwarts, games of Quiddich and battles of good against evil, the final wave of Pottermania is now sweeping over Issaquah, the nation and the world, with the last of the epic movies having blasted through every worldwide box office record last weekend.

Greg Farrar Press photographer

Ticket sales of $475 million in three days is not too shabby!

Over the years, we’ve covered lines of fans at the local movie theater, costume parties for the latest book release at local shops, and huge shipments of Harry Potter books making their way from King County Library System headquarters on Newport Way to all of the branches in the system.

The question is, now what? Every generation has its “mania.” We’ve had the Jazz Age, Golden Age of Hollywood, Beatlemania, discomania and now the end of Pottermania. What should we proclaim in Issaquah to be the next all-consuming mania?

For the socially conscious, my personal preference would be to promote “Littermania,” getting us all to join in to pick up every scrap of paper, every beverage bottle and every plastic wrapper. Ever hear of the 1950’s fad of college students cramming into a phone booth? There’s at least one phone booth still in town, across the street from The Press building. Let’s have a contest of bagging up litter around town and seeing how many bags it takes to fill the phone booth!

Or, how about “musicmania?” There are a lot of scheduled music events this summer in town. For instance, during the next ArtWalk on Aug. 5, we could all bring that musical instrument in the back of the closet that we used to play — kazoo, violin, bongo drums, tambourine — and make ourselves a gleeful racket on Front Street and at Gilman Village.

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Issaquah City Council sets ambitious goals for 2012

June 14, 2011

Top priorities include downtown parking, Economic Vitality Commission

NEW — 8 a.m. June 14, 2011

Less than a month after gathering to brainstorm ideas for the coming year, City Council members set ambitious goals for 2012, including possible solutions for cash-strapped Lake Sammamish State Park, a more citizen-friendly budgeting process and a commission to address economic vitality.

The council OK’d the list June 6, and sent Mayor Ava Frisinger priorities for the months ahead. The decision represents the initial step in the process to shape the 2012 municipal budget. The unanimous decision came after council members met for a rare Saturday meeting May 14 to outline goals.

“In my view, these are a balanced set of goals that cover just about every aspect of city government,” Councilman Fred Butler said during the June 6 meeting. “There’s something in there for everyone.”

The list calls for the city to join with the DownTown Issaquah Association and the Issaquah Chamber of Commerce to determine options for a structured parking study. Issues related to downtown parking — a headache during ArtWalk, Fenders on Front Street and other summertime events — emerged as the top priority at the retreat.

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ArtWalk returns Friday to downtown and Gilman Village

June 1, 2011

NEW — 10 a.m. June 1, 2011

ArtWalk returns to downtown Issaquah on Friday.

The event is 5-8 p.m. along downtown streets and in Gilman Village.

In rain or shine, regional artists set up temporary shows in downtown businesses and on street corners for the evening.

On Friday, Museo Art Academy opens a new studio, 111 Front St. N. The location offers more exposure for the organization.

“Now we are on the corner at street level in this amazing 100-year-old building that is a historic icon. We have wide sidewalks for demonstrations, we are in the middle of all the action,” Marci Knutsen, owner and director, said in a news release.

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Issaquah City Council sets goals for 2012

May 17, 2011

Leaders pick downtown parking, economic development as 2012 focus

Solving parking headaches in downtown Issaquah is a top priority for city leaders next year.

The ongoing problem emerged as the No. 1 goal May 14 as City Council members set goals for 2012.

The city intends to examine possible solutions, because parking is often difficult in the historic downtown corridor during ArtWalk and other summertime events.

The council opted to revisit the longtime headache for downtown merchants and consumers. The city conducted other downtown parking studies in the past.

Other priorities included a continued focus on economic development, offering additional city information online, and discussing possible arrangements for the aging Julius Boehm Pool and cash-strapped Lake Sammamish State Park.

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DownTown Issaquah Association ArtWalk / May 6, 2011

May 11, 2011

DownTown Issaquah Association needs ArtWalk volunteers

May 5, 2011

NEW — 10 a.m. May 5, 2011

ArtWalk returns to downtown Issaquah Friday, and organizers need some help to set up, coordinate and clean up.

The spring and summer event, presented by the DownTown Issaquah Association, starts at 5 p.m. The planning for event starts Friday morning, and the DownTown Issaquah Association needs volunteers starting at 11 a.m.

ArtWalk wraps at 8 p.m., and volunteers can help pack up the event until early June.

Email Community Relations Manager Tanya Alter at community@downtownissaquah.com to sign up for a time slot. The open slots include:

  • 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. — Set up art venues with balloons
  • 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. — Set up downtown Issaquah banners on light posts
  • 2 p.m. — Pass out maps to businesses
  • 3 p.m. — Help artists carry items into businesses in Gilman Village and downtown
  • 5-6:30 p.m. — Information booth at the Hailstone Feed Store
  • 5-6:30 p.m. — Information booth at Gilman Village
  • 6:30-8 p.m. — Information booth at the Hailstone Feed Store
  • 6:30-8 p.m. — Information booth at Gilman Village
  • 8 p.m. — Cleanup

ArtWalk participants include galleries, restaurants and shops along the downtown corridor and in Gilman Village.

 

ArtWalk returns for 10th season

May 3, 2011

Pedestrians pause to admire art displayed at the former UP Front Gallery during ArtWalk last year. The gallery has since relocated down the street. File

The DownTown Issaquah Association’s 10th annual ArtWalk season kicks off May 6. The popular event, the first Friday of every month through September, invites visitors to meet local business owners, enjoy free music, watch artists in action, and shop and dine in downtown Issaquah after normal business hours.

ArtWalk draws hundreds of visitors to traditional art destinations such as artEAST’s Art Center and the newly expanded Museo Art and Design School on Front Street. In addition, nontraditional locations open their doors to the event throughout downtown Issaquah and Gilman Village.

Typically, the event ran from 5-9 p.m. in the past. But by popular request, that has changed.

“The event now runs from 5-8 p.m. with a soft close at 8,” said Annique Bennett, cultural events coordinator for the DownTown Issaquah Association. “Those with signs out front of their businesses can now pull them in and go home at 8, or they can choose to stay open as long as they want to.”

For May, artEAST opens a new exhibit, “150 Feet of Art,” at Up Front Art. More than 100 pieces of art on one-square-foot canvases will be displayed and available for purchase during the monthlong auction.

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DownTown Issaquah Association charts new course

April 26, 2011

The decision to oust the longtime DownTown Issaquah Association executive director has not impeded the organization in the run-up to ArtWalk, a spring and summer staple for downtown merchants.

Organizers credited former Executive Director Greg Spranger and former Cultural Events Manager Michael Johnson with building solid support for the event.

The upcoming ArtWalk has focused renewed attention on a February staff shakeup at the downtown business organization. ArtWalk returns for a 10th season May 6 and runs one Friday each month until September.

DownTown Issaquah Association leaders decided to scrap the executive director position and hired another candidate as community relations manager rather than longtime executive director Spranger. Johnson then resigned in protest.

The decision prompted angry letters to the editor and hard feelings among some downtown merchants and supporters.

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Press Editorial

April 26, 2011

Future is undetermined for downtown boosters

The DownTown Issaquah Association has come under much criticism for reviewing and rewriting the job description of its leading staff member, and then hiring a new employee.

It may be that DIA needs to go one step further.

Currently, DIA has a community relations director and an events coordinator. It’s questionable whether both are really needed.

An events coordinator to manage ArtWalk five Friday nights a year, a car show in June, a spring cleaning of downtown, and a few other promotional activities that bring shoppers to Front Street and nearby businesses may be all DIA needs to focus on in this trimmer economy.

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Press Editorial

March 1, 2011

Downtown Issaquah has opportunity ahead

The DownTown Issaquah Association has a new director. That announcement may seem insignificant, but at second glance, the association is important to everyone who lives here.

Newcomers repeatedly say it is the historic downtown along Front Street that is a prime factor is choosing Issaquah. It’s that last vestige of bygone Norman Rockwell-like days that lure people here.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that doing business in this central core is easy. The downtown has its problems — like traffic, lack of adequate parking and lack of a destination store. But it has its pluses — at the heart of the civic area, lower rents and it’s pedestrian friendly.

When Village Theatre expanded to its Mainstage theater, it was predicted that the downtown would become a cultural district. It took years to do that, but over time came the opening of the new Issaquah Library, the monthly ArtWalks and weekly Music on the Streets, the founding of artEAST and its Up Front gallery, and other businesses rounding out the scene with art and music classes. More restaurants followed, some with live music of their own.

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