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aurorarichard050209m.jpgMay 2, 11:13 a.m. [View larger] [Map]
Some people complain about the poor urban planning around Aurora Avenue and its current state, some believe it’s beyond repair and some actually do something about it. Meet 82-year-old Richard Dyksterhuis, a former school principal turned activist. He is the force behind a group of neighbors who meet every first Saturday of the month to clean up along Aurora and are committed to improve things. After seeing this sketch I posted last week, they invited me to join them and learn of their thankless mission.
May 2, 10:39 a.m. [View larger] [Map]
As he kept reaching for trash along the side of the road, Richard walked me around and pointed to multiple instances where sidewalks don’t meet the code or simply don’t exist. He is especially critical of the situation between 125th and 145th streets, a stretch of Aurora he calls “Gasoline Alley.” It has three used car lots, nine places to change oil and tires and five major auto dealers. Between 135th and 145th there’s not even one traffic light. When he started his activism about seven years ago he was told by the Seattle Department of Transportation that putting them in would “impede the flow of vehicular traffic,” which is exactly what needs to happen, he says. “This road gets county money, state money, federal money, but somehow that money goes somewhere else,” he said.