[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a Letter to the Editor, written by a Reader. It does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The B-Town Blog nor its staff:]
This tree was over 150 years old, and it began growing here years before Gottlieb Burian built his home on the lake that later bore his name. It survived the logging of this area, perhaps because it was too small or inconvenient on the day the lumberjacks came. It lived for 150 years, but the City of Burien would not let it live one more day when I asked for more time. I asked the Parks Department, the Planning Department, and the City Council why it needed to be cut down without further review, and I got no answer. Other citizens, who favored the removal of the tree, freely received copies of the arborist’s report and the geologist’s report. All I got was silence. I have a few more questions for the City Council and staff.
Do you represent me as a citizen? If I have questions about my local government, who will answer them it not my elected representatives? What are you there for, if not to represent Burien citizens?
What was the value of this tree? The Arbor Day Foundation, which Burien often boasts has bestowed this city with the title of Tree City USA, places the value of an ordinary tree at between $1,000 to $10,000. This tree, being one of a kind, 150 years old, used as a perch tree for the eagles, and being the main reason the park was created in the first place, was probably worth much more.
How much did it cost to cut down this tree?
What was the likelihood it could have injured someone if it fell? Isn’t it true that the crew that cut down the tree was much more at risk of injury or death than anyone would have been if the tree was left standing?
If citizen safety is such a priority for city staff, why wait eight years to cut the alder looming over the stairs? Why not fix the stairs that have been broken for three years?
Why was this work started before a permit was applied for? Can the average citizen expect the instant granting of a permit when he starts off by breaking the rules he knows well?
Why weren’t the owners of the property notified that the tree would be cut?
Did the city get permission to cut this tree from State and Federal authorities responsible for eagle habitat preservation?
Why did you not get the opinion of a second arborist?
Given the value of the tree, why didn’t the city consult an arborist 8 years ago and ask for ways to protect the health of the tree?
I get that city staff does not like it when I question their methods and choices. I try to avoid talking to people I don’t like, but when it is my job to get something done, I don’t have the luxury of choosing who I can ignore. Most people, during the course of their jobs, don’t get to decide they will serve one customer but not another. As paid public employees, does the staff of Burien think they have the right to freely give public information to people who agree with them and restrict access to information for people who disagree with them?
Why did this tree have to die?
– Jim Branson
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