News Blog for Seattle's Maple Leaf Neighborhood


Mayor signs off on preserving Waldo trees

March 17th, 2010 · 1 Comment

After four years of effort, the Maple Leaf Community Council today was able to declare victory in its fight to save a grove of 80 mature Douglas fir trees on the old Waldo Hospital property just off of 15th Avenue Northeast.

The council announced Mayor Mike McGinn signed an ordinance allowing the Seattle Parks Department to take possession of a conservation easement to preserve the trees, which the council calls “Waldo Woods.” The council had earlier secured a $300,000 preservation grant from King County.

The Community Council’s long toil on behalf of the trees, and the old osteopathic hospital on the site, was spearheaded by David Miller as head of the council’s Waldo Working Group. “When we started this process nearly four years ago we didn’t know whether we’d be successful or not,” Miller said in a news release this morning.

“Through the support of hundreds of people from across Seattle, today we’ve managed to permanently save this unique grove of trees.”

The hospital was built in 1924 by Dr. William Waldo. It most recently was owned by Camp Fire Puget Sound, which in 2006 announced it had sold the 1.6-acre site for a townhouse development. Only a few of the trees would have been preserved. Miller wrote an op ed article on the subject for our news partners The Seattle Times.

Over the next four years the Community Council fought the development, trying unsuccessfully to have the city declare the hospital a historical landmark and more successfully by winning a court case over how to contain lead particles if the hospital was demolished. It built support by arguing the city should be preserving, not cutting down, its remaining tree canopy.

In the process, the original sale fell through. The property, at 15th Avenue and Northeast 85th Street, is now owned by the Menachem Mendel Seattle Cheder Day School, which plans to remodel the hospital into a new school.

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