December 3, 2001
Bothell's Town-Gown Loop premieres in spring
by Bronwyn Wilson
Senior Staff Reporter
When the weather's clear and bright, it's a pleasant walk between the University of Washington, Bothell (UWB) campus and downtown.
Travelers, on foot, pass a historic cemetery and stroll through a shaded neighborhood. But early next spring, the walk promises art, education, even a hint of adventure along the way.
Designated as the Town-Gown Loop, the two-mile walking path will feature snippets of Bothell history and geography, illustrated by artwork. Granite and sandstone boulders will display the text and art on bronze plaques.
City Planner Bill Wiselogle explains how the idea for a Town-Gown Loop came about. "The impetus came for this a few years back when I was trying to think of ways to connect the Main Street area and the campus," he says.
The Town-Gown Loop leaves the UWB/Cascadia Community College campus, travels past the cemetery toward Main Street, swings around at the library, goes by City Hall and then heads back via 185th.
The purpose of the Loop is to link downtown's shopping, dining, cultural and recreational opportunities with the campus.
"Town" and "gown" (as in cap and gown) describe the partnership between the two locations. "We're always looking for ways to create a sense of community and give the downtown businesses a boost," says Wiselogle, who envisioned the walking path marked by 20 boulders. It was his plan that each stone would exhibit a plaque containing interesting Bothell information illustrated with art. He wanted the art to depict a mortarboard and top hat to represent the campus and the city.
Before submitting the Town-Gown proposal to the Bothell City Council, Wiselogle searched for an artist.
In a prior career, he worked as a journalist and remembered interviewing Robin James, a local artist known for her imaginative animal illustrations in the popular Serendipity children's book series.
Wiselogle asked James to draw some sketches that he could present with his proposal to the City Council. In 2000, the project was approved and James was on board. She proposed an embellishment to Wiselogle's symbols, suggesting she draw a wise owl in the mortarboard and a cougar, in honor of Bothell High School's mascot, to sport the top hat.
Wiselogle liked the idea and James began work on twenty different drawings. When completed they will be cast in bronze plaques, each plaque containing a different illustration along with a short story and mounted to one of the boulders.
Placed adjacent to the sidewalk, the stones will be spaced so that each installation is in view of another. "If you're at the first one, you'll see another one down the way," says Wiselogle. "I wanted them to be three-dimensional so they would entice walkers to see the next one."
Wiselogle suggests the Loop will also be a good place for class field trips. "The students will learn a lot in a fun and entertaining way," he says.
And, for those who wish to take the Loop in the evening, there's the possibility the stones will be illuminated. The lighting feature is still under consideration.
Cynthia Scanlon, UWB Director of Marketing and Communications, comments that college students already walk to the downtown area, but a designated trail will make the trip even more appealing. "We're delighted that the trail is going to be there," she says. "The [Town-Gown Loop] helps to solidify our connection to Bothell's downtown merchants. That's something we want to continue to have happen."
Funded through a $60,000 Tourism Grant, the Town-Gown Loop is scheduled for an unveiling in March 2002.
For a related story, please see page 5.