Even as the city moves slowly toward a policy aimed at protecting trees, more are taken out daily, mostly for development. A short distance north of Lincoln Park, one big old tree is endangered for a different reason: A city transportation project.
Crews are working right now on the west side of Fauntleroy/Fontanelle [map] to build curb ramps. When they get to the east side of the intersection, Sara says, the huge chestnut tree at that corner of her yard is in danger.
She’s launched an online petition drive to try to save the tree, which they believe is more than a century old. The petition page tells the tree’s story in detail, including Sara’s personal plea:
We cherish this tree and its history. We love observing the animals it provides for, and are honored to behold its abundant glory and all the creatures that enjoy it. I gather snips of the flowers to make arrangements for meditiation. My housemate and her daughter collect the chestnuts annually and use them for arts and crafts! We were set to create a ladder this year so that we could climb it and build a treehouse! We long to protect it. Trees like this are sacred and SHOULD NOT BE DESTROYED!
Similarly, our neighbors over at the Kenney take walks and come to our tree specifically to gather chestnuts for their own decor, and to enjoy its sentimental value, as many of them have grown up visiting this tree in their childhood. We have many West Seattle residents pass by this tree to enjoy its splendor. This is a generational staple of our neighborhood.
After hearing from Sara, we asked SDOT about the tree. Here’s the response we received from spokesperson Ethan Bergerson:
SDOT has not made any decisions to remove this tree. At this point, we are only planning to temporarily remove some of the adjacent concrete sidewalk panels which were already lifted up by the tree roots, so that our arborists can get a closer look at the root structure. Our immediate objective is to better understand our options, and whether it is possible to trim the tree roots in a way that maintains the health of the tree so that the sidewalk can be repaired and the curb ramp installed.
As you noted, this tree is on private property. We have been having an ongoing conversation with the property owner, who has been aware of this situation since last September and understands that they share responsibility with SDOT for repairing the sidewalk damage. Their tenant learned of the situation more recently and initially believed that we had made a decision to remove the tree. We have since spoken with both the owner and tenant to make it clear that this is not the case and we will continue to share information about the tree and curb ramp design and construction as they become available.
Sara’s not taking any chances. Her online petition is collecting signatures, and her housemate’s 9-year-old daughter has written a letter with her own plea:
The petition page even includes a design proposal for building the curb and saving the tree. Sara writes, “I want to be very clear: we absolutely want our sidewalk and streets to be accessible for everyone! There are ways to do this that do not involve killing our tree.”