Sunday, September 30, 1990 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Stuff Of Legends: Fremont Erecting Funky Troll Sculpture

When Fremont community leaders polled Seattle residents recently to ask what image came to mind when they heard the name Fremont, most mentioned the drawbridge, the Waiting for the Interurban sculpture and legendary taverns.

Now you've gotta like a community known for its bars, and for putting seasonal costumes on stone figures waiting for a transit system the city no longer has.

And soon there will be another reason to like Fremont. A few blocks northeast of the Interurban statue, beneath the Aurora Avenue North bridge, area residents yesterday broke ground for a sculpture of a 15-foot-high troll clutching a Volkswagen Beetle. If the designers of the project have their way, the car will bear a California license plate.

The bridge troll is the product of a community with a fertile mind. When Fremont applied to the city for a community redevelopment grant, residents could have chosen any design.

Twenty proposals were submitted and five finalists were put to a vote. Residents chose the troll, explaining that Fremont isn't the kind of place that takes itself too seriously.

``I hate to say this but Seattle could use a little sense of humor,'' says neighborhood activist Mary Hanson, who describes Fremont as an anti-elitist kind of place.

The troll will rise on 36th Avenue North between four pilings of the Aurora bridge's superstructure, known as the Hall of Giants.

The designers - a group of counter-culture architects, designers and builders known as the Jersey Devils - hope to complete the sculpture in time for Halloween.

The choice of a troll says a lot about Fremont, and serves as a metaphor for what that area has gone through in recent years. Legend has it that trolls live under bridges to escape traffic and development. Those are both problems Fremont has had to face.

Residents fear the recent construction of large apartment buildings, plus the Quadrant Corp.'s plans to build an office park, threaten Fremont's historic character.

``We think Fremont changed too fast in the 1980s,'' says Scott Dulin, a member of the Fremont Neighborhood Council. ``Development was out of control. Much of that has changed. We don't feel under siege anymore. We just want to keep this a good place for families and for small businesses.''

Fremont's choice of art work may be one way to do that. A neighborhood that could have had anything it wanted lived up to its reputation of ``fascinating and funky'' and chose a troll.

Copyright (c) 1990 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.


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