The former Seattle City Light lot located at Ambaum Blvd. SW and SW 144th Street (map below) has been listed as “For Sale,” which means that a grassroots campaign to save an endangered, ~68-year old Akebono Cherry Tree there has ended.

Organizers of the online fundraiser have started refunding donors, who raised $1,360 in an effort to save the tree and lot. They also collected 167 signatures for an online petition.

The tree was endangered because this corner lot – which was contaminated from years as an electrical substation – is owned by Seattle City Light, which recently cleaned up the site and put the property on the market.

City Light says that the tree was likely planted sometime between 1948-1950, about the time the substation was built. Many of the cherry trees that line the walkways in Washington, D.C. are similar Akebono cherry, most of which were planted in 1912.

At present, there apparently have been some inquiries into this small parcel and its status for sale, which is zoned for commercial use. City Light told organizers that it has the following options:

  • Continue the For Sale status and hope for a buyer
  • Continue the For Sale status and stipulate some limitations as to the trees being retained in order to receive some benefit for the price from the City of Burien

“The City of Burien – a designated ‘Tree City’ for the last 13 years – has no plans to include the property in its budget for purchase,” Organizer Karen McMichael told The B-Town Blog. “They have had some discussions about ‘Heritage Tree’ designations in the community, but so much for their demonstrated action on the part of this property. The thought that comes to mind is that actions speak (a whole lot!) louder than words…”

McMichael added that some additional limitations on the sale are that there is an alleyway immediately bordering the property on the west side which is a public right of way. The right of way would not likely be restricted, further limiting any sizable building on the property.

McMichael added:

Our endeavor to ‘Save the Cherry Tree’ started in January of 2015 (read our previous coverage here). Over the last year, we initiated efforts to save the tree and property by creating a GoFundMe Site. Rather than cut all trees down on the site, an action Seattle City Light has taken in adjacent cities in Puget Sound for decommissioned properties, Kamuron Gurol, Burien City Manager, along with Michael LaFreniere, former head of Burien Parks & Rec., became involved in a successful negotiation with City Light to ‘Vactor,’ or clean the heavily contaminated soil which had evolved from the usage of pesticides in past years and some success occurred in not cutting the trees.

The grass roots effort of community members, Alice Goodman, Jane Martin & Karen McMichael resulted in funds gained in the amount of $1360 and a petition of 172 signatures to support purchase of the site. A deterrent to a successful campaign was the fact that the funds would be utilized to help underwrite the cost of the soil cleaning rather than outright purchase of the property. Efforts to gain support through local media such as the Burien Blog and Highline News were appreciated and progress as well as the community effort were brought before Burien City Council on two occasions as well as meetings with several Council Members.

Without some financial support from the City of Burien and the small number of involved participants working on the project, it became clear that future efforts to retain the property were to no avail. Those local citizens who provided financial support are much appreciated.

The website donations are being refunded, as it seems clear the intention of the City of Burien and Seattle City Light is to sell the property rather than entertain any future notions to retain it. The outpouring of responses of the kind people who donated to this cause have been very gratifying and help to bolster the strength of our commitment that the site is indeed one worth saving and not developing.

Since 2007, The B-Town Blog is Burien’s multiple award-winning hyperlocal news/events website dedicated to independent journalism.

3 replies on “FOLLOWUP: Former Seattle City Light 'Cherry Tree Lot' is up for sale”

  1. Someone will buy the property, level it, and contribute to the uglification of Ambaum Ave. A metro toilet distribution lot or auto recycle business would be suitable.

  2. What could possibly be put in that space? The restaurant next door should buy the land for parking but that won’t look nice. I like the idea of a small park. It could be an espresso drive through but there’s one across the street. Hmmmmm……… Thanks everyone for trying to preserve it.

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