FOLLOWUP: Fauntleroy/Fontanelle chestnut tree gets a reprieve; its champion is ‘beyond thrilled’

1:32 PM: Back in mid-April, we were first to report on a neighborhood campaign to save the chestnut tree shown above, on private property but in the path of a public project – a curb ramp to help people crossing SW Fontanelle on the east side of Fauntleroy Way, just north of Solstice Park. Its roots had grown under the sidewalk. In late April, as reported here, the city arborist came out for a look, and said they would determine within a few weeks whether the tree could be saved. Today, we have word from SDOT that they’ve found a way. From spokesperson Ethan Bergerson:

We are pleased to share that we have found a solution which will allow us to repair the sidewalk and build an accessible curb ramp at the corner of Fauntleroy Way SW and SW Fontanelle St without removing any trees.

We have heard from many community members who were concerned about the possibility that this tree might have to be removed as a part of our curb ramp project to improve accessibility in this neighborhood. While SDOT had never determined that it would be necessary to remove the tree, we are glad that we were able to find a solution which maintains the health of this tree and resolves the community’s concerns.

Our updated curb ramp design will allow us to build a new parallel/corner curb ramp with minimal tree root trimming that should not harm the tree. SDOT worked closely with Seattle Public Utilities, which will relocate the fire hydrant near the chestnut tree at the northeast corner of Fauntleroy Way SW and SW Fontanelle St. The new location for the fire hydrant will continue to provide the same level of fire protection for the neighborhood, and allow us to build a new curb bulb to make room for a curb ramp that meets ADA standards without harming the tree.

We anticipate completing this curb ramp work in the next two to three weeks, depending on weather conditions. Our contractor is scheduled to begin excavation work to decommission the existing fire hydrant and install a new fire hydrant as soon as Friday June 3.

Relocating the fire hydrant requires a temporary water outage, which is scheduled for 8 a.m. to noon on Monday, June 6. Impacted customers have been notified by SPU, and more information about the planned water outage can be found on SPU’s Water Outage Map.

We will continue with sidewalk demolition work followed by concrete pouring throughout next week. We will perform some minimal tree root trimming as we remove existing sidewalks to prepare for the concrete pour. We will have our urban forestry team on site to help monitor this work and ensure the health of the tree.

We’re checking with the resident who led the fight to save the tree and will add her comment when we have it.

1:59 PM: That resident, Sara Macko, says, “I am incredibly overjoyed that we could all come together and keep this corner of the world beautiful and sustainable for our environment!” She’s grateful to everyone who joined in the effort, and to the city reps who worked with her, and adds, “We taught a 9 year old girl, Piper, that if you believe in something, work hard at it, and bring your peers and neighbors together, you can make your dream a reality! I am beyond thrilled.” She hopes to host a celebration, soon, with her band playing, next door at Solstice Park, “an opportunity to bring our West Seattle community together to thank them all for their support, and to rejoice near our infamous tree.”

ADDED FRIDAY AFTERNOON: Regarding the cost, SDOT’s Bergerson says, “A preliminary rough estimate is that this may add as much as $35,000 – $45,000 to the project, including both SDOT’s and SPU’s costs.”

23 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: Fauntleroy/Fontanelle chestnut tree gets a reprieve; its champion is 'beyond thrilled'"

  • Auntie June 2, 2022 (1:39 pm)

    This shows what can be accomplished with community participation/input. If nobody had been paying attention, I can pretty much guarantee that tree would have come down. Thanks to everyone who supported saving the tree and thanks to SDOT and SPU for working to do so.

  • My two cents June 2, 2022 (1:42 pm)

    Thanks for the update. Fun to read the original story and comments. AMAZING that this decision was reached based on the comments which seemed to indicate a lack of confidence in the city and the professionals that were assessing this situation. Hope that people take a moment, and acknowledge that not everything turns out to be worse than before. 

  • Guy Olson June 2, 2022 (2:07 pm)

    Meanwhile there’s 40 potholes and lifted sections of roadway leading up to that hacked up messy tree. 👏🏻👏🏻

    • WSB June 2, 2022 (4:10 pm)

      If there arr, they haven’t been reported yet!

    • Alki resident June 2, 2022 (4:20 pm)

      Not even close

    • John Rackow June 2, 2022 (7:37 pm)

      the chestnut tree is trying to make a come back. it was once the species that represented 1 in 4 trees.  this specimen is a treasure.  please learn about the flora of your environment. I assure you that its value is greater than a road woth less potholes… and your personal convenience. 

      • anonyme June 6, 2022 (3:17 pm)

        John, has it been verified as an American Chestnut?  I can’t tell for sure from the photos, but it looks like it might be.  If so, it really is a rare and valuable tree.

  • Wildflower June 2, 2022 (4:17 pm)

    Also happy for the birds and squirrels!

  • flimflam June 2, 2022 (4:30 pm)

    Good news!

  • lowmanbeachdrive June 2, 2022 (4:39 pm)

    Great news!  The most important thing is the tree! 

  • Jim June 2, 2022 (4:53 pm)

    They are backpedaling and acting like they care about removing trees in this city now. If there hadn’t been a big uproar about this it probably would have been removed. This city needs to get over development under control whether it’s just updating curbs or tearing down affordable homes for overpriced condos

  • GREENISGOOD June 2, 2022 (5:51 pm)

    I can only assume the cost will be well above 5 figures to move a fire hydrant, and delay the construction on the ADA ramp. What was the benefit of keeping this tree over planting a new one? Curious because I might want to make the same argument in the future. Surprised this was the outcome!

    • WSB June 2, 2022 (5:59 pm)

      I asked that question on followup earlier today and will add the answer when I get it.

    • Morgan June 3, 2022 (6:00 am)

      Mature trees offer benefits of cooling, air cleaning, etc. that are often valued at tens of thousands as compared to young saplings.

    • Solvie Karlstrom June 6, 2022 (8:16 am)

      I live here. We have heard from on-site workers that the discovery work for the fire hydrant and underground pipes showed the fire hydrant would have to have been moved regardless of the tree issue, so that became our loophole to justify a plan that saved the tree—if you have to move it anyway, create a plan that saves the roots.

      • GREENISGOOD June 6, 2022 (1:39 pm)

        Great Outcome! Trees and vegetation do have value, in many different ways.

  • Murray Sandy June 2, 2022 (6:01 pm)

    I hope that residents and owner of the property take this win and make every effort to keep the sidewalk clean of tree debris. The sidewalk is public property but is the responsibility of the property owner to maintain. 

    • Guy Olson June 3, 2022 (10:16 am)

      We’ll check back when the chestnuts fall everywhere here in a month or two and then again in Fall. 

  • anonyme June 2, 2022 (6:12 pm)

    Good news.  This is how things are supposed to work.

  • Hugs June 2, 2022 (8:26 pm)

    I would like to see all us tree supporters form a go fund me to recoup the costs and pay the city  for moving the fire hydrant.

  • anonyme June 3, 2022 (6:16 am)

    Why?  Why is it OK for taxpayers to support wanton destruction, but ask that “tree huggers” (who are also taxpayers) pay extra out of pocket for preservation costs?  Would you also request that wheelchair users pay for the ramps, and sports fans pay for the arenas?  Trees are not a special interest; our lives literally depend on them.  This workaround by SDOT should be considered standard practice, not an exception.

  • Morgan June 3, 2022 (7:00 am)

    A young sapling just won’t provide tens of thousands of dollars in benefit in cooling, air cleaning, wildlife feeding and aesthetics judgment. Mature trees are worth tens of thousands. Good decision.

  • tim June 3, 2022 (8:32 am)

    I 2nd that! Let’s pay the city for moving the fire hydrant. Go Fune Me. ha ha!

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