Maple Leaf Neighborhood Sees Stars -- City, Community Council Ask Builder To Remove Traffic Circle

A little creativity may cost a local developer about $4,500.

Apartment builder Les Yanover built a traffic circle on Northeast 84th Street. Everybody seemed to like it, except for one thing - the cement surrounding the plants has a stars-and-moons motif instead of maple leaves as the neighborhood expected.

And so the city of Seattle's Engineering Department wants Yanover to redo the traffic circle - or pay it at least $4,500 to do the job. The city admits it wouldn't be able to do the job this year and isn't sure when it would be able to.

"The maple leaf is the signature of our community. It's not something we pulled out of the air," said Helen Rosmith, president of the Maple Leaf Community Council.

Rosmith said the maple leaf designs are part of the neighborhood's long-term traffic circle plan and are essential to developing the neighborhood's identity. Maple Leaf is the only community in Seattle that has traffic circles with special designs.

To Rosmith, the maple leaf controversy is about more than cement imprints. It's about respecting a neighborhood.

"If Mr. Yanover can come over into our community and do what he wants to do, then what's the point of all our meetings and our council?" said Rosmith.

Yanover, a Maple Leaf resident who has built three apartment buildings in the neighborhood, installed the traffic circle last year at the request of the Community Council. Yanover said he was not required to do so, but that the neighborhood wanted a circle, the city would not provide one, so he stepped in and took care of things.

"I said that I would be happy to contribute a traffic circle as a gesture of goodwill, with one stipulation - that I construct it - because I didn't want the hassle and expense of dealing with the city," said Yanover.

Yanover figured that if he paid for the job and did it himself he could do it for less than $1,000. Neither his permit nor his agreement with the community council required the the maple leaf designs, he said, adding that he didn't put in the maple leaf design because he didn't get it until the day of construction.

He thinks folks are making way too big a deal out of the ensuing moons vs. maple leaf debate.

"I can appreciate the maple leaf community spirit, but this is taking it too far," said Yanover.

Some folks actually like Yanover's motif.

"I love it. I think it's a neat- looking design," said neighbor Jill Jeakins. "It's original. The stars and moons was a great idea."

And some neighbors really don't care how the traffic circle is adorned.

"I think to redo it would be a waste of money. I mean who notices it?" wondered neighbor Cheryl Laube. "There are so many important things to worry about."