Arbor fever strikes Lacey: Trees the talk of council

Thursday’s meeting dealt with city’s recognition as a Tree City USA for 23rd consecutive year

rboone@theolympian.comApril 11, 2014 

Tree removal at College Street and Seventh Avenue appears to contradict Lacey’s Tree City USA designation, which it has received 23 years in a row, but the patch was thinned because it was overgrown and had evidence of a homeless camp.

STEVE BLOOM/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

The Lacey City Council Thursday night was all about trees: It had an Arbor Month proclamation, a seedling was presented to Yelm Mayor Ron Harding and there was a reminder about a community seedling giveaway this Saturday.

All of that was in connection to the city being recognized as a Tree City USA for the 23rd consecutive year.

The Arbor Month proclamation, read aloud by Lacey Mayor Andy Ryder, is one of four requirements the city must meet to qualify as a Tree City USA community, as established by the Arbor Day Foundation and the National Association of State Foresters.

The city also qualifies because it has a tree board or department, a tree care ordinance, and a community forestry program, including investing nearly $7 per capita on its program in 2013.

Not far from City Hall, though, those driving along College Street at Seventh Avenue might be wondering what happened to some of the trees at that address.

The lot still is home to several towering Douglas fir trees, but the rest of it has been thinned and cleaned up. Before, it was so densely overgrown that it was hard to see into Woodland Square Loop.

That property is owned by MJR Development of Kirkland, which last year expanded its holdings in the area by buying seven office buildings for $6.6 million that were formerly owned by Prium of Tacoma, once a major state office landlord.

MJR partner Mark Lahaie said Thursday that the lot needed to be cleaned up.

“It was a bit of jungle,” he said, adding that there were some security concerns.

A check of the property showed evidence that the lot was being used for a homeless camp.

That lot also has the potential to become a site for another building, he said.

Meanwhile, the tree seedling giveaway is set for 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at Huntamer Park. Hundreds are expected to attend and people line up early, Lacey spokesman Stephen Kirkman said. Species available include Colorado blue spruce, eastern redbud, flowering crabapple, purple smoke tree, and scarlet oak.

About 1,000 seedlings, limited to one per person, will be distributed.

Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403 rboone@theolympian.com

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