Save the Trees-Seattle is commencing another full blown hearing today on trying to save the old conifer and madrone trees in the NW grove at Ingraham High School in North Seattle. Last year we seemingly won our appeal before the Seattle Hearing Examiner– she agreed with us that the NW Grove was an uncommon habitat in Seattle and that city environmental law said it should be protected.
Unfortunately the Hearing Examiner gave the Seattle School District the option of moving the project or reducing the footprint and the Seattle School District choose to just reduce the footprint. Trees be damned. The Seattle school District reduced the footprint of the project from a previous 44% of the grove to 38% and then started playing additional games.
They said the impact was much less because they now claimed the grove didn’t start at the edge of the school but 30 feet out. Problem is 30 feet out is where the tree trunks are and groves start where their roots and canopy drip lines are, not where tree trunks actually are.
And of course the Seattle School District claimed that all the alternative building sites they looked at cost more. Originally they claimed that a 2 story building on the north side would destroy 4 classrooms in the existing building. Then in the second Addendum to their Environmental Checklist they claimed 2 classrooms were lost. They of course had to replace these classrooms so the alternative site would have to have a larger building and cost more.
The only problem is that the Architects finally agreed with Save the Trees-Seattle that no classrooms would be lost with a two story building on the north side. So the Seattle School district now claims that they must build a 2000 square foot entrance way for any North side building. In other words the fix is on. They have added extra study rooms and more utilities, you name it, to each of the other sites besides the west addition in the NW Grove grove to jack up the price.
This is the public’s taxpayer dollars at work, ignoring what is good environmental policy and setting out to destroy more of an uncommon plant habitat in Seattle that also has significant canopy – these are 75 year old, 100 foot tall Douglas fir, western red cedar and Pacific Madrone trees – part of the last 50 acres of this habitat in Seattle according to a report done by Seattle Urban Nature. on the State of Seattle’s Madrone Forests.
The Hearing process starts at 9 AM on the 40th Floor of the Seattle Municipal Tower, 700 5th Ave. The Hearing is today, Wednesday June 23, 2010. The public is welcome to attend. The appellants go first and then the Seattle School District and Seattle Department of Planning and Development.