Mayor halts plan to remove up to 90 trees at Legion Park

EVERETT — Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson has halted the city’s plan to remove up to 90 trees from Legion Memorial Park.

The city’s Parks and Recreation Department had been considering removing most of the trees from the park, many of which were being crowded, showed signs of disease, or were otherwise nearing the end of their lifespan.

That plan angered many residents across the city, however, who spoke to the City Council, organized a campaign and a “Save the Legion Park Trees” Facebook community, and sent what Stephanson estimated was a couple dozen “emails, snail mails, calls” from people seeking to stop the culling.

Stephanson said he also walked the site to see firsthand what the city parks staff was advocating, and spent what he said was a “few sleepless nights thinking about it.”

“I decided at about 3 o’clock this morning to bring a halt to this,” Stephanson said. “None of the trees will be removed.”

The tree removal program was to have started this fall, at the same time work crews from the state Department of Ecology were planning to replace up to a foot and a half of topsoil contaminated from the old Everett Smelter.

The smelter contaminated much of north Everett with arsenic, lead, cadmium and other metals, which were first detected in 1990. The funding is being provided by a bankruptcy settlement with Asarco, the former owner of the smelter site.

The cleanup of the park will continue, but the work crews will dig around the shallow root clusters by hand and use compressed air to clean them of contaminants.

The geography of the park is such that the topsoil is compacted, forcing many of the tree root balls to spread out close to the surface. Some of the trees are clearly sick or have been stunted by having been planted too close together.

Stephanson said it is possible that some trees might not survive the soil replacement process.

“Through the cleanup process we may lose some trees in the future, but in my view, it’s a risk we’re taking,” he said.

One of those grateful for the mayor’s decision was Sandy Schumacher, a former Everett resident who has long served on the board of the Everett Arboretum and Gardens, and who has helped organize many residents and neighbors to save the trees.

“I wish I could just hug him,” Schumacher said.

She had often given tours to people from all over the Puget Sound region who admired the stately lindens, beeches, cedars and maples in the park, some of which were planted by the arboretum’s founders.

“We knew the mayor had been there that day,” Schumacher said. “We were hopeful that he would see that 90 out of 105 trees should not die. They should die in their own time.”

Stephanson said this also is an opportunity to review the city’s 21-year-old tree removal ordinance, and ensure that future plans follow a process that is transparent to the public.

“It’s reassuring to see how much they value our parks and the environment in the parks,” Stephanson said.

Chris Winters: 425-374-4165 or cwinters@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @Chris_At_Herald.

More in Local News

Turkey talk: Kindergartners explain the Thanksgiving holiday

Our annual pilgrimage led us this year to Pathfinder Kindergarten Center in Everett.

Police locate suspect in Snohomish River after he fled

They used a thermal-imaging camera to locate the man in the water near Dagmars Marina.

Electrical fire on roof of Marysville school extinguished

There was no apparent structural damage to Cascade Elementary School.

As police closed in, 2 heavily armed pot-shop robbers fled

Cops surrounded the place in Mountlake Terrace. The suspects were tracked by dogs and apprehended nearby.

Hiker rescued on Boulder River trail after 15-foot fall

She was reported to have possible leg and rib fractures.

Alleged philanderer attacked with hammer near Everett

His girlfriend had accused him of cheating and allegedly called on another man to confront him.

Front Porch

EVENTS Holiday lights parade in Monroe Monroe will host a Holiday Lights… Continue reading

Snohomish County Council passes a no-new-taxes budget

The spending plan still funds the hiring of five new sheriff’s deputies and a code enforcement officer.

Most Read