April 29

Fight over Maple Leaf’s Waldo Hospital issue MIGHT be over



Update: 3:40 p.m. The Maple Leaf Community Council agrees the fight might be over due to a “new development:”

We have received word that Camp Fire will now sign the conservation easement due to subsequent negotiations between MMSC and Camp Fire. The paperwork has NOT been signed yet, however.

So, we ask you to pause your letters and phone calls for a short while until we get confirmation the paperwork has indeed been signed. We hope this confirmation will arrive next week.

The war over 80 mature Douglas fir trees at the old Waldo Hospital on 15th Avenue Northeast  may have  ended – again – Thursday as Camp Fire, the property’s previous owners, agreed to preserve the trees.

The news came after two days of public pressure from the Maple Leaf Community Council, which dubbed the trees “Waldo Woods” and has fought over the issue for four years.

Last month the council announced that the trees had been saved with a conservation easement. But on Tuesday the council said Camp Fire had refused to sign off on the deal.

At Wednesday night’s Community Council general meeting David Miller, chair of the council’s Waldo Working Group, implored the largely sympathetic audience to lobby Camp Fire to sign. He also discussed two other Waldo issues.

Thursday morning Camp Fire said it has accepted an offer from the property’s current owners, the Menachem Mendel Seattle Cheder Day School. In a news release, Camp Fire said:

Camp Fire has always been supportive of MMSC goals to renovate the building and preserve the land as they see fit.  Our Board of Directors has reviewed and accepted a recent offer from the school regarding the easement.  We are delighted that all parties can now move forward.

In an short interview, Sue Bean, Camp Fire’s chief development and marketing officer, said the nonprofit organization has to be careful with its budget. “We were thrilled that the school bought (the property). We’ve been in negotiations for months. Our board has conveyed to their representative that we have accepted the offer.”

Bean couldn’t say whether the school’s offer had changed since Tuesday, and the school hasn’t returned an earlier call. She did said Camp Fire is fully supportive of preserving the trees. “The environment is so much about what Camp Fire is about.” An earlier statement from Camp Fire is here.

At Wednesday night’s meeting Miller, of the community council, had two other Waldo announcements.

The first was that the school has pulled down a portion of the south end of the building to install an outside staircase and that he doesn’t believe there was significant environmental damage, an earlier legal concern.

The second is that the school plans to sell a northern corner of the property, currently a parking lot, to a developer with plans to build seven to nine “cottage” homes of about 950 square feet. That’s a far cry from the dozens of homes proposed four years ago, but Miller said the community council “wants to make sure any development that happens doesn’t harm the neighborhood.”

About the author 

Sara W

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