LETTER: Where Have All the Ambaum Trees (And the Truth) Gone?
On November 18, 2010, we – the citizens were told for the first time in a posting on The B-Town Blog (read about it here and here) that 96 significant growth trees would be taken down for the street overlay project on Ambaum. This caught most citizens by surprise because nowhere in the City Council presentations, on the city website or in the city newsletter was the destruction of these trees ever mentioned to citizens.
Once the B-Town Blog exposed what the Xs on the trees meant, it raised citizens’ concern. Citizens were told by the city that the trees had to go in order to lay new sidewalks and to provide safe sidewalks for the disabled. However, new trees would replace the old ones. Citizens were allowed no voice in the choice of trees but were told that proper ones by city standards had been selected for the replanting.
Those old trees were taken down in record time. Burien has never worked so fast to destroy or remedy a situation in the city. Sometimes in Burien, it takes up to one year just to get one piece of graffiti removed but those trees were gone in two weeks-interestingly enough just in time for our rainiest part of the year. This is the time when significant trees are most important to the environment for the amount of water they take up to prevent flooding. One significant tree can take up to 1 million gallons of water in one year-that is a heck of a lot of storm water and surface water runoff.
On December 12-13, 2010, we had record rains and Miller Creek had record flooding. The trees that were removed on Ambaum used to take up and divert some of that runoff from entering the creek. Perhaps part of that record flooding in Miller Creek was intensified by the removal of that many trees along Ambaum.
Now we are approaching spring. The new sidewalks are in along Ambaum and strangely there are no trees where the old ones used to be and there appears to be no planting space for trees. So where are the trees? And where will they be planted?
At the corner of SW 148th and Ambaum, there are a stack of trees in what sometimes serves as a Christmas tree lot. It appears that the city or the contractor that the city is using for the street overlay is using this space for staging. A number of trees are wrapped in burlap and exposed to the elements. They have been there for at least a month. They have no dirt mounted around them and in the cold weather we have had probably have a 50-50 chance of surviving when planted because they were not protected correctly. Are these our new trees for Ambaum? The root ball size does not look like it will fit into the small amount of space that is left between the sidewalk and the curbs on Ambaum.
When Eagle Landing Park was put in, hundreds of shrubs and trees were left out on the open ground and never planted. This was an expensive waste of plant materials at tax payer expense. Hopefully, this is not the fate of the Ambaum trees-if in fact there are ever going to be any replacement trees put back in.
– Chestine Edgar
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