Editorial missed big picture

To the editor:

Perhaps the editorial board of the Independent should have read the vision statement for the city of Woodburn before writing the Nov. 6 editorial (“Sequoias need to come down”). It reads in part: “Woodburn will be a community of unity, pride and charm.”

But the editor chastised the Historic Neighborhoods Association for getting involved in saving the trees along the highway. The tone was: It was none of their business. Really? This effort began with people from Tukwila and Senior Estates. The Historic Neighborhoods Association was asked to help. I am not a member of that association but my Smith Addition neighborhood signed petitions and helped along with the effort, along with Senior Estates, Tukwila, CAPACES, students from Chemeketa, Miranda’s Bakery, Berta’s Ice Cream and folks from all over town. The 600-plus citizens that signed the petitions care about the whole city.

The editor also missed the big picture. The sequoia trees stand at the corner of a large triangle, owned by ODOT, that will contain a retention pond. The look of that triangle (good or bad) will influence the opinion of everyone entering Woodburn from the freeway. The citizens of Woodburn want to be proud of their city — a community of unity, pride and charm. City-wide citizen cooperation should not be discouraged, but be encouraged!

Ellen Bandelow


Trees improve quality of life

To the editor:

The Historic Woodburn Neighborhoods Association (HWNA) is concerned, as are our neighbors throughout the city, that everything possible is done to save the two sequoias while keeping plans for the sound wall intact.

The HWNA was asked to collaborate with a movement formed by Rainier Avenue and Tukwila residents to lodge a statement with the Woodburn City Council impressing on it that these trees are beloved by the community. Significant trees do improve the quality of life in our community and we advocate protecting and preserving them when it can be done.

The collaborative effort was successful in bringing the issue to the public and the opinion of the public to the city. The mayor and city manager agree that the trees are an important asset in themselves and as a gateway to Woodburn. I hope that ODOT and the city will keep trying to find a way to provide sound wall protection and at the same time keep the trees.

We found that most people who are for the trees are also for the wall. If no other options are found and the issue comes to a choice, I hope the city council will allow the residents who live near the trees to make the decision. The choice will be difficult, but they will be able to live with the result if they can participate in a material way.

Sharon Corning


Historic Woodburn Neighborhoods Association

Trees are in HWNA’s purview

To the editor:

As the founder, first chairperson and now just a member of the Historic Woodburn Neighborhoods Association, I found the editorial “Sequoias need to come down” (Nov. 6 edition) surprisingly snide, vitriolic and astonishingly contrary to what I’ve always believed American democracy is all about. It also threw in the implied, amazing nonsense that, somehow, saving the sequoias is going to jeopardize the new overpass project. This, of course, might also suggest that ODOT isn’t willing or smart enough to solve both problems.

What right does HWNA have to get involved in this “purview?” Well, we were first asked to get involved by residents of The Estates and Tukwila. Plus we’re Americans and proud Woodburn residents, who believe in the hallowed right of citizens to participate in their government.

We pretty much think trees are in our “purview.” HWNA’s statement of purpose includes the preservation of Woodburn’s tree canopy, significant trees, street trees and their replacement when legally removed. Something that has seldom, if ever, been monitored or enforced by the city.

We even support Woodburn’s tree ordinance that says you cannot cut down a significant tree, even on private property, without permission, a permit and confirmation by a licensed arborist that the tree is an immediate danger to the public, fatally diseased or already dead. We don’t think that a healthy tree “might” fall down some abstract time in the future, or that you hate trees and hate raking leaves or needles, should be reason enough to issue a permit to cut a tree down. “Cut it down anyway” should cost the ordinance fine of $500.

Liability for ODOT or the city is a poor excuse for cutting the sequoias down. Sure it “might” happen but it’s also scare tactics, not to mention illogical. Woodburn is full of trees that “might” blow down. Therefore we should cut them all down. Right?

Twenty-nine people and the editorial staff of the Independent want the trees to come down (ODOT is another letter to the editor). Some 600-plus people, (mostly Estates residents) want the trees to remain, something one of our elected officials in a city council meeting treated with obvious disdain, then totally ignored.

So much for majority rule. Maybe we shouldn’t forget this at the next city election.

Durrell Crays


Woodburn already losing too many trees

To the editor:

I am deeply disappointed in the Nov. 6 editorial that specifically attacked the Historic Woodburn Neighborhoods Association’s involvement in attempting to save the sequoias.

We were asked to get involved because most people know of our efforts to save Woodburn’s trees. Residents from various neighborhoods collected more than 600 signatures in a very short time. We believe that this indicates a majority of citizens want to find an alternative to cutting the sequoias down.

So far ODOT has only come up with one alternative: A 100-foot gap in the sound wall. With the talent and experience ODOT has, they can do better than that.

Woodburn was once designated as Tree City USA, but not anymore. Satellite views of Woodburn show a stunning loss of canopy and street trees in just the last decade.

We need to re-educate ourselves, (and for our children’s sakes) about the benefits and necessity of trees, especially when we have a major source of carbon air pollution this close to I-5. Trees are not only beautiful, they are of historical significance and add property value, especially in the old neighborhoods of Woodburn.

Woodburn has a tree ordinance that prohibits removing trees, even on private property (even by ODOT) without a permit. Unfortunately, the city too rarely requires compliance and even more rarely enforces their required replacement.

Your editorial particularly offended me with the implication that, somehow, we should stay in our own backyard and had no business getting involved.

Merri Berlin


Contract Publishing

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