Thursday, May 23, 2013

Eva's beloved garden needs to be moved for new sidewalk, neighborhood plans parade of wheelbarrows

Eva moves a rock in her garden on NE 130th Street.

Eva Sismaet is proud of her hard work. And she should be.

Like so many streets in Lake City, the road on both sides of her corner lot lacked basic infrastructure. There is no curb. Runoff from the street on the west side of her property would pool on her blacktop driveway, turning the area into a dangerous ice rink during the winter.

On the north side, along NE 130th Street, the ditch cut into the shoulder of the road would become a mucky, overgrown and litter-filled mess when it rained.

The retiree on a fixed income decided to act and beautify her little slice of our community.

Eva, who has lived in her home with her husband Romeo for 33 years, turned the mucky ditch into a rock-lined garden. She planted elephant ear plants, kept down the overgrowth with tree bark and added colorful plants into the visually appealing mix that lines her property.

Most days she can be seen out there, with a wide brimmed hat, meticulously keeping her garden manicured for her —and our— enjoyment. (If you ever stop to chat she will engage you in friendly conversation)

Eva gardens to keep her mind from the troubles she has faced in recent years. Her husband, a veteran of the Vietnam War that served in Saigon, battled lung cancer and now suffers from coronary obstructive pulmonary disease. Things got worse when her home was recently burglarized, robbing her of a sense of security that we should all be able to enjoy in our homes, our havens.

Change comes to Eva's garden

The stakes with pink surveyors flags were the first indication of what was going to happen to Eva's garden.

You see, members of our community have been advocating for needed sidewalks for decades. Recently, funding for a new sidewalk on NE 130th, right in front of Eva's home, was secured.

The new sidewalk is part of efforts to have a safe path for students to walk from Olympic Hills Elementary to the Lake City Library. The sidewalk and curb will bring drainage and a safe path to an area that Eva created drainage and beauty in her own makeshift way.

The City of Seattle has told Eva that she needs to remove the years of work she put into her garden before sidewalk construction begins this summer. Once construction starts, anything left behind from her beloved garden would be swallowed up by tractors and dump trucks.

Eva then started to move her massive garden and drainage. Rock by single rock.

Offers of help

Recently a neighbor approached Eva as she was in front of her home lifting rocks. The neighbor suggested she ask the community for help.

At first she was unsure and said she didn't know what community the neighbor was talking about. When approached later by another neighbor, offering the same help, she became emotional.

You see, neighbors are for so much more than politely waving to occasionally or visiting with once a year at a block party —or telling that their dog barks too loudly. (This is where you enter this story)

"I am really fortunate to find out that the community we're living in has people with helping hands. I am proud of you guys," Eva said of the neighbors that have offered help. She also offered her elephant ear plants to anyone that wants to give them a good home.

Parade of wheelbarrows

So here is what WE can do.

Grease up the wheel of your wheelbarrows, get your shovels and work gloves ready. Douglas Park Cooperative is planning a parade of wheelbarrows to move the massive amount of river rock in Eva's street-side garden into her yard.

This is not an easy task as there is quite a bit of large river rock in her garden. But with enough man-woman-kid power we should be able to knock this out in a few hours.

We are still working on a date to accomplish this in the next couple of weeks, before construction of the sidewalk starts. It will likely be a weekend day in the middle of June. So check back here and we will post all the info when we have a date firmed up with Mrs. Sismaet. We will post the info on our Facebook Page, on our email list-serve and here, on our blog.

So who is ready to rock Eva's rocks and move them into her yard?