The lease for the Fun Forest amusement park at Seattle Center will end in 2009, the City Council decided Monday. The Fun Forest, which includes...

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The lease for the Fun Forest amusement park at Seattle Center will end in 2009, the City Council decided Monday. The Fun Forest, which includes a Ferris wheel and bumper cars, has lost business in recent years and failed to keep up with lease payments to the city.

The city agreed to accept reduced rent from the operators, who owed $763,890 in rent, fees and taxes, if they agreed to end the lease in 2009 instead of 2014.

Councilmember Peter Steinbrueck expressed concern that Seattle Center will lack affordable, interactive places for families and young children, but the lease change passed unanimously.

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“It represents a loss, particularly for families with young children, who have enjoyed outdoor activities at Seattle Center since the World’s Fair,” Steinbrueck said.


Council confirms new parks director

The City Council confirmed Tim Gallagher as superintendent of Seattle Parks and Recreation in a unanimous vote Monday.

Gallagher, who previously worked as head of the Los Angeles County parks department, already had started working with the Seattle parks department as a consultant.

Councilmember David Della, chairman of the parks committee, said, “Mr. Gallagher has shown through his contract work up until now that he is willing to get out into the community, go to any meeting he is asked to, straighten out issues sitting around for a long time.”

Gallagher described the department as “high-quality staff doing some high-quality programs needing some leadership” and said he looked forward to working with the public.


New legal protection

for homeless people

Making a threat, causing physical harm or damaging the belongings of someone because he or she is homeless will now be considered malicious harassment under Seattle law, and it will be prosecuted as a misdemeanor in Seattle Municipal Court.

The law already dealt with malicious harassment because of gender identity, marital status, political ideology, age or parental status.

In passing an ordinance to apply to acts against homeless people, “Seattle is saying loudly and clearly that we want to be a city of love, not of hate, and of tolerance, not of intolerance,” said Council President Nick Licata, who sponsored the change.


Paving completed on third runway

Paving of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport’s third runway has been completed, according to the Port of Seattle.

The 150-foot-wide, 17-inch-thick, 8,500-foot runway is finished, but additional paving of connections to taxiways, construction of asphalt shoulders and painting still have to be completed, the Port said.

The third runway is scheduled to begin operations next November.


Man injured in stolen-vehicle crash

A Kent man was critically injured late Sunday when he was thrown from a stolen vehicle that hit a power pole, according to Kent police.

Officers found the 30-year-old man unconscious and not breathing near 104th Avenue Southeast and Southeast 256th Street at about 11:30 p.m.; the vehicle came to rest in some bushes near a Taco Time restaurant.

The man was rushed to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where he was in critical condition Monday.

Police believe speed may have been a factor in the crash. Witnesses reported the vehicle was going between 80 mph and 100 mph before the crash.


Initiative donations reach $3 million

Private contributions to King County’s Children’s Health Initiative have reached $3 million.

The Metropolitan King County Council on Monday accepted a $1 million donation from Group Health Cooperative and acknowledged Washington Dental Service’s commitment to provide $1 million worth of dental care to children whose dental care is not covered by insurance.

Seventeen other health providers and foundations made contributions, including Children’s Hospital & Regional Medical Center, $200,000; the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, $148,000; and Community Health Plan and Molina Healthcare of Washington, $100,000 each.

The contributions will be used as part of an initiative proposed by King County Executive Ron Sims in 2006 as a way of bringing health care to many of the county’s 15,000 children who don’t have health insurance. Since the County Council put $1 million into the program at the start of this year, 900 more children have been covered by health insurance, Sims told the council in October.


Obama in SoDo to raise funds

Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama will hold a fundraiser today in Seattle.

The campaign says the Generation Obama event with musical performances at the Showbox SoDo, 1700 First Ave. S., will expand its grass-roots base in Washington.

General admission is $100.

Obama was last in Seattle on June 1 and drew 3,500 to an event at Qwest Field Events Center.


Diesel spills from fishing boat

Nearly 400 gallons of diesel fuel spilled into Tacoma’s Hylebos Waterway late Monday during an internal fuel transfer aboard a fishing vessel, according to the state Ecology Department.

The Ecology Department, the Coast Guard and the Washington state Maritime Cooperative were responding to the spill from the Bowfin, owned by Trident Seafoods, at Tacoma’s Pier 25.

There was no immediate word on damage. Trident did not immediately return a call for comment.


August illnesses said to be food poisoning

It could have been the dinner sausage or the turkey-and-potato lunch casserole, but the Pierce County Health Department says it definitely was food poisoning.

It sickened hundreds of detainees in August at the federal Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma.

Documents released to The News Tribune said about 200 people were treated at the clinic for diarrhea, but others left rather than wait in line.

The Health Department recommended a food-safety course for the kitchen managers. A spokeswoman for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency said employees of The GEO Group, which operates the center, have complied.

Goldendale, Klickitat County

Highway 97 bridge to close for repairs

Truckers and visitors to the Maryhill Museum and the nearby Stonehenge replica may have to change their route for most of next year.

The bridge that carries Highway 97 over the Columbia River south of Goldendale is being closed Jan. 2 for repairs. State transportation officials say it will remain closed until early 2009, except for Memorial Day through Labor Day.

While the bridge is closed, motorists will be routed over the Highway 197 bridge at The Dalles, Ore., about 20 miles to the west.

Seattle Times staff and news services

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