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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Waldo Woods and Historic Building Permanently Preserved

Oxalis (NW Shamrock)
Fresh green news for Saint Patricks Day! 

This news via the Maple Leaf Community Council, formerly headed up by David Miller (now by Marc Phillips).  In an incredible success story and against very long odds, they fought and won a battle to save this lovely grove of trees, AND saved the Historic Waldo Hospital built in 1925 too boot!  

The developer, Prescott Homes had planned to clearcut the site and remove the historic building and build 39 townhomes on the site.

But they underestimated the determination of the Mapleleaf Neighborhood, and especially David Miller and Dave Mann (Gendler, Mann).

The group used an unusual strategy in their SEPA challenge. They identified a problem with the city's analysis of environmental impacts in that the destruction of the building would result in a toxic dust (lead) that could significantly impact the neighboring residents and park. In an amazing outcome they won in Superior Court on their appeal.

Then this neighborhood organization did not stop with their win and with the Interim Tree Ordinance protecting Groves of Trees that was passed by the Seattle City Council last year.

They followed through, and found a school that was willing to remodel the building and save the trees. Now they've managed to save the trees permanently, by city statute.

What a great outcome!

March 17, 2010


** Waldo Woods Permanently Preserved ** 

(SEATTLE, WA) – The Maple Leaf Community Council Executive Board is pleased to announce the permanent preservation of Waldo Woods.

Ordinance 116794 was passed by the Seattle City Council Monday, March 8. Confirmation was received today that Seattle Mayor Michael McGinn has signed the legislation. This ordinance represents the last step in the process where the Seattle Parks Department takes possession of a conservation easement for Waldo Woods. The effect of the conservation easement is the permanent preservation of Waldo Woods, an urban grove of mature, native Douglas firs.

“When we started this process nearly four years ago,” stated Waldo Woods Working Group head David Miller, “we didn’t know whether we’d be successful or not. Through the support of hundreds of people from across Seattle, today we’ve managed to permanently save this unique grove of trees.”

The Maple Leaf Community Council applied for a King County Conservation Futures grant three years ago in the hopes of saving Waldo Woods, an intact and healthy 80 tree grove on the eastern 1/3 of the Waldo Hospital property at 15th Avenue NE and NE 85th Street in the north Seattle Maple Leaf neighborhood. The council succeeded in its pitch, and secured a $300,000 grant from King County to preserve Waldo Woods.

In March 2009, the Maple Leaf Community Council won a court case proving the Seattle Department of Planning and Development (DPD) did not adequately assess the significant environmental impact and harm to surrounding residents from the planned demolition of historic Waldo Hospital. Shortly after the loss in court, the developer planning to remove the building and most of the trees and replace them with forty townhomes averaging $650,000 each terminated their plans.

That’s when the Menachem Mendal Seattle Cheder (MMSC) Day School stepped in and bought the property with the intention of remodeling the building into a new school. They agreed to preserve Waldo Woods, and worked closely with the Seattle Parks Department and the Maple Leaf Community Council to make that happen. MMSC will trade over $600,000 in development potential for the $300,000 in King County Conservation Futures money, using this money to help remodel Waldo Hospital into their new school.

"Our community generated enough visibility for this project to result in today's outcome," noted Maple Leaf Community Council President Marc Phillips. "We're very proud our effort, joined by other groups across the city, also resulted in better tree grove preservation rules for all of Seattle."

Conservation easements do not actually transfer ownership of the property, only the development rights on that property. MMSC retains ownership of the property and will make a portion of Waldo Woods accessible to the public. MMSC, Parks, and the Maple Leaf community will cooperate to manage and maintain Waldo Woods on an ongoing basis.

The Maple Leaf Community Council would like to thank Seattle City Councilmembers Richard ConlinNick LicataTim BurgessTom RasmussenSally Clark, and Sally Bagshaw; King County Councilmember Bob Ferguson; Seattle Parks Superintendent Tim Gallagher; MMSC’s Mark Goldberg; Parks Department staffers Chip Nevin and Don Harris; David Mann from the law firm of Gendler & Mann; Kathy George formerly with Cassady Law; and the hundreds of people from across Seattle who wrote letters, attended dozens of meetings, and donated money. Without considerable support from these people, this would never have happened. A special acknowledgement to Mayor Michael McGinn and the entire Seattle City Council for rapidly moving this legislation through the process.

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Maple Leaf Community Council Waldo Woods Working Group subcommittee
David Miller, Chair

Maple Leaf Community Council Executive Board
Marc Phillips, President

photo credit - Thomas G Barnes, Maple Leaf Community Council

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