The Dump


For many years, the area between Aurora Avenue and Haller Lake was used as a dump. It caused a great deal of anxiety among residents, many of whom recall the nuisance it posed. The property between N. 125 th and N. 130 th Streets was purchased for landfill usage in 1927, when press reports referred to the area as an “old gravel pit.” Although this is hardly believable today, landfill was often welcomed to even out ground levels. A foot of topsoil was often viewed as enough protection from the refuse below.

These attitudes began to change as generation of household waste increased during and after World War II. Garbage began coming in at increasing levels at Haller Lake during this time, prompting Haller Lake Improvement Club ex- president Walter Bosworth to complain at a 1947 meeting of the King County Commission. “We’re ashamed about it. We have to tell our friends: ‘Come out Aurora Avenue and turn right at the dump.’” At one time raw sewage was dumped at the site, and several fires broke out there, which on one occasion required the attention of a Haller Lake resident in lieu of an aloof fire department.

As dumps within the city limits reached capacity by the early 1960s, dumping ceased at Haller Lake, and the city began to have garbage trucked out of town. This required the construction of transfer stations, and the natural location for these transfer stations were former dump sites.

In 1965, the City of Seattle announced plans to build a transfer station on the Haller Lake property. Opposition to this scheme was almost spontaneous from the community, resurrecting memories of rodents, stench, sea gull droppings and other health hazards from the days when the landfill was in operation. Club president Harry Harkness was active in an arduous effort to stop the transfer station plans. An attorney was hired, and threats abounded of a lawsuit if the city council went along with plans for the transfer station.

Following a ruling that a transfer station would defy zoning regulations, city planners contemplated changing the stipulations for a zoning classification of “manufacturing” to allow refuse dumps. The City Planning Commission recommended the zoning change that November.

Although the zoning change passed by a vote of 7 to 2, a provision which aborted consideration of the Haller Lake site passed by a vote of 6 to 3, prompting Councilwoman Myrtle Edwards to comment that if Haller Lake residents backed council incumbents in the next election in the same manner they had opposed the dump site, their re-election was assured. Dissenting Councilman Eckmann railed against nimbyism, a term he hardly could have known.

Who got dumped with the dump? The Fremont district.