Tales of the Tot Lot part 2

So the land swap was stopped when the City Attorney admonished the Council it was their obligation to compel Parks to abide by the terms of the transfer and honor the restrictions.  The Council voted unanimously to record a conservation easement which would preserve  the Tot Lot in perpetuity.     But suddenly, Councilman Val Tollefson moved to delay the recording of the Conservation Easement while  an access road was worked out between Laughlin, Parks, and the adjacent, Madison Cottages  community.  It seems the Madison Cottages folk decided it best to accommodate the access road  because if the Wyatt Cottages proposal is not granted, a more intrusive and aesthetically  disagreeable development might replace the good work of Cutler/Anderson Architects.   Point well taken, but too smacking of defeatist accommodation for me.  Since the good folk of  Madison Cottages represent a mere fraction of the Parks-­going public, why should they have   such disproportionate influence?    We await the announcement of the Wyatt Cottages proposal to the Design Review Board with a  mixture of dread and anticipation.  Will the concerned parties present accurate information this  time around regarding the Declarations of Covenants, Restrictions and Reciprocal  Easements– remember those?    This is but a sketch of a convoluted tale of intrigue.  There remain such details as the “vanishing”  restrictions, erroneous reports of the County Assessor, a land value increase of nearly 80% the  very year the property was transferred to Parks, the “disappearance” of the studio from the  assessor’s building report 2 years before it was demolished, the miraculous appearance of a  ghostly pole ­frame building, and mysterious address changes.

It seems we are afflicted with a double denial regarding many troubling aspects of the concurrent Wyatt  Cottages and Suzuki developments.  On the one hand, the Madison Cottages community ­­as well as the Friends of Suzuki­­ sweep the shady history of land transfers to Parks under the rug.  On the other, we have the present Council embarrassed by their part in obscuring Parks and the  previous Council’s questionable deeds–to say nothing of the good old boys in the building  department.      All sides of this debate can be said to lack transparency and, personally, I find Friends of  Suzuki accusations against the Council to be a case of calling the proverbial kettle black.  We need a fresh perspective on the vital issues that shape the island’s future.  We need  transmute our high ideals of inclusiveness and economic equality into practical solutions while  preserving the precious remnants of our natural environment.

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Tales of the Tot Lot part 1

The long history of the Tot Lot demands an uncommon level of attention and patience; I hope my good readers might bear with this convoluted tale about a tiny children’s playground in the heart of Whimsical Winslow.

The Tot Lot tale extends as far back as 1997, when Randy Varga sold the property to the City  with a “Declaration of Covenants, Restrictions and reciprocal Easements” which specified the property be preserved as a park.  He also called  for the preservation of a lovely art studio which I occupied rent-free as an artist-in-residence and caretaker–though my caretaking often fell short with all the demands of creating art.

 It was a time when our last elected Mayor held a prominent position on the Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council– though that detail is perhaps merely coincidental–after all, my significant other says I watch too many detective movies, and such things are only natural with all the demands of leadership and the equivocal nature of the greater good.

 Despite the prohibitions clearly spelled out in the Declarations, outcry of concerned citizens, several emails citing restrictions, heated Parks Board meetings, and a front page article in the Kitsap Sun, the studio was destroyed in 2011, just two years after it was transferred to the good, art-promoting BIMPRD–or whatever they’re called.

In February of last year, a land swap was proposed where the playground would be traded for a lot half its size on the corner of the island’s busiest intersections.  Well, you can imagine the outcry of local, island mothers over that scenario.

 Truth is, a big money developer had bought two properties adjacent the Tot Lot and wanted to realize a tidy profit by consolidation, and create a greater Wyatt Cottages.  Problem is, this is a greater good that mainly benefits said developer. .

So get this, the developer and Parks sign on as co-applicants to the Design Review Board for this swap which would grease the skids for this big money project on the homestead of Winslow’s founding father, Reilly Hoskinson, who settled it God knows when.  They fill out a legal form declaring there are no impediments to this swap, though–because the brouhaha less than 5 years before–they obviously knew of the 1997 restrictions.

 So I give Val Tollefson a copy of the restrictions and the Council halts the swap, reminding Parks of their obligation to honor terms of the transfer.

To be continued…

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Sweet Pea

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The Tot Lot Studio Presents

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Mochtar

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I named him after the Indonesian novelist, Mochtar Lubis.

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1968 painting

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The Tot Lot Studio presents–Macbeth

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Winslow Heat–Flashback

So I took the Prince Ivan thoroughfare up the hill to the east of town to where Joel had said E.G’s new developments were. It seems a big mall was in the works and EG, with the backing of some Ohio LLC, was building a pharmaceutical emporium and a corgie day care center. There was a broohaha when local poodle lovers had protested this plan as being discriminatory against their chosen breed, and had filed a complaint with the City to that effect. But the mayor, being a member of the Little Siberia corgie society, set them straight on that score, and the permit had fairly sailed over the desk of her brother Vinnie in the planning department.

I turned onto a gravel road that led north into the woods. A white and yellow building notice was spiked on the wide based of an old-growth cedar. I got out and walked down the road until I saw a short old guy with ruddy complexion being led by, what appeared to be, his grand daughter. After a respectful greeting I asked:

“Did you know this parcel is being developed by a mobster?”

I’ve been told, that for a private eye, I exhibit a marked lack of discretion, and this was not lost on his grand daughter who attended his obvious infirmity with touching solicitude. He hobbled, leered at me with a sideways grin, and said in a thick, southern Italian accent:

“That’s good. It will be protection.”

I got back into the Dart, lit a cigarette, and thought it over. All the seemingly casual series of events now funneled into an inevitable vortex in which the alluring image of Lupe flowed with languid abandon in the smoky arabesques of my square.

I suddenly became quite nervous indeed. For here in this lonely stretch of woods, all the crazy, disconnected events that transpired on the rock added up in a most disconcerting manner. It was as if all the paranoid imaginings of my troubled adolescence had come to realization; and the events of the past week had formed into a clear pattern. Most of all, I saw that no interference in the schemes of real estate speculators to realize a tidy profit would be welcome—especially such interference as might be offered by a simple artist like myself who does detective work as a sideline.

I was having, what we used to call, a flashback, and all these horrid imaginings unfixed my hair and made my heart knock frantically against all the studied uses of cool. The line between real and imagined dangers  becomes very sketchy at times, and steadier mugs than myself have found serious trouble in extravagant delusions and a swell dame in a skin-tight, sequined dress. At such moments it behooves a simple gumshoe like myself to breathe deep, take a powder, and intone the sacred mantra: Fuck that.

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Little Siberia

Past the Old Man Bridge is a harbor town founded by Russian emigre’s during the great War who had settled along it’s muddy shores to ply the dog-fishing trade as had long done in the home country.  I was led to this quaint town by a tip from Joel the barkeep at the Boundless Euphoria nightclub, who had said that the shady history of my new client, Edward G. might be found behind the gaudily painted facades of Little Siberia.  Joel is a failed impressionists who’s only hook seems to be early Peter Lorre.  In fact, Mochtar the Sikh says Joel really is the 21 st Century Avatar of Peter Lorre himself.  Be that as it may, Joel is prone wild imaginings when under the influence of his latest intoxicant dou jour which, as became evident as he waxed morbidly poetic with bug-eyed intensity about the satanic influence on local politics, to be of the hallucinatory variety.
 
  “Sy, I heard you were working for E.G…”
 
  “Yeah.  What do you know about him?”
 
  “He is, shall we say, in league with Mephistopheles.”
 
Dealing with nut-jobs is part of the job description.  I’m Sy Caymore, private eye.
 
Edward G,  the tragedian mobster–who did real estate transactions on the side–had hired me to help with his scheme to move the Grandiose Forest to Eagledale.  He had this hair-brained plan to reverse the course of western history, restore the sovereign right of kings, and score a nifty forest for his new racket club; a scheme that had all the makings of some looney, Shakespearean Tragedy for which, it appeared, Edward G had cast me in the role of unwitting stooge.  Against my better judgment, I’d taken the case in hopes of enhancing my meager bank account and getting some new material for a mystery novel I had been wrestling with for some time.
 As I crawled over Old Man Bridge in my ’66 Dodge Dart I had plenty time to think.  There is no better automobile for traversing the City of Night.  It’s revolutionary torsion air-ride and flight-sweep styling commands respect among the pale hipsters who haunt the labyrinthine city of delusion; and though the dashboard may go pixilated, technacolor haywire and transmit coded messages from the outer reaches of space, she now exhibited the sure-footed dignity of a thoroughbred as I negotiated the snarled Island Expressway. 
 
Joel had said the Mayor of Little Siberia might shed light on the Grandiose scam, and clues to E. G,’s shady past might be found among the brick, archival vaults of Little Siberia’s City Hall.  I pulled into the parking garage and took the elevator to a lofty hall where maritime artifacts were on display.  A Grand Banks dory, still manned by a skeleton in foul weather gear, lay under florescent lights, looking like it had just been hoisted from the murky waters of Dogfish Bay.  Display cases held models of the old fishing fleet that had once fitted out here for their seasonal voyage to the Bearing Sea. 
 At first, the place looked empty.  Then I saw a curly haired woman in overalls and Birkenstocks seated before an ancient laptop.  She had the wholesome aspect of an organic farmer.
 
“Excuse me, I’m looking for the mayor.”
 
 “That would be me,” she said with a bright, welcoming smile. 
 
I was pleasantly surprised.  Such open-faced candor is rare in Winslow, where getting a word—kind or otherwise – from city officials is like pulling teeth.
 
“Would you know anything about Edward G Snobinson and some wacky scheme to heist the Grandiose
 forest and remove it to the Dunsinane Racket Club in Eagledale?”
 
 Her pleasant manner suddenly vanished and she said with thinly veiled menace:
 “Questions like that can get you a permanent mooring on the bottom of Dogfish Bay.”

 

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The Valley of Elah

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