Thursday, October 16, 2014

Developer Heidgerken Shares Old Brewery Vision

Above: For the first time, Old Brewery owner George Heidgerken meets Peter G. Schmidt Jr., 92, today after Heidgerken’s presentation. Schmidt was born in the Schmidt House and is the grandson of Leopold F. Schmidt, who built the Old Brewery in 1895.

“I’d like to see you succeed, but it’s going to be rugged,” Schmidt told Heidgerken.  Schmidt shared stories about growing up near the brewery.

“When Olympia beer first hit Seattle, my god, they just couldn’t ship it fast enough….Every year, production doubled in size….” said Schmidt.

By Janine Unsoeld

It was a full house at the historic Schmidt House today in Tumwater as community members came to hear George Heidgerken speak about his vision for redeveloping the Old Brewery property. His Falls Development LLC project manager, Jon Potter, joined him. A slideshow chronicled the Old Brewery’s history from 1906 to the present.
Heidgerken joked that while doing research for the purchase years ago, he found out why no one bought it, saying it would easily cost half a billion dollars to renovate. The more he found out about its legacy, however, the more intrigued he became with the possibilities. Heidgerken owns about 35 acres of the area on both sides of the Deschutes River, including 11 acres of water.

“It’s a real treasure….To restore the buildings, we have the original plans and photos to be authentic….From an economic standpoint, it’s something of a leap of faith…the road, access, utilities, everything’s different (now).”
Admitting that nothing at the site meets current codes, Heidgerken said that despite the challenges, it’s a remarkable opportunity. The hillside, he says, hasn’t been maintained in decades and said a parking garage would provide needed parking and stabilization. Groundwater monitoring wells will be installed soon.

“This is a big deal for Tumwater and the county…it’s a unique facility…it’s time that somebody does this stuff.”
The City of Tumwater has determined that redevelopment of the property will have an adverse impact on the environment and is seeking public comment on the scope of an environmental impact statement for the site.

The deadline is Monday, October 20, by 5:00 p.m. Comments on the three land use alternatives identified for the site may be directed to: Tim Smith, AICP, City of Tumwater Planning Manager, 555 Israel Road SW, Tumwater, WA 98501; or (360) 754-4212.
Heidgerken says he doesn’t know where the process will end up, but there is interest in the property from restaurants, educational institutions and hoteliers. He says the site has the potential of being a nationally known destination, like Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco, and can serve as a catalyst for other development.

Above: The Old Brewery as seen on October 8, 2014 during a tour of the Tumwater property near the Deschutes River.

Frequent murmurs of approval were heard while Heidgerken gave his presentation, and someone in the audience remarked, “It's about time.”
Heidgerken says he has spent $1 million cleaning up the property and $3 million in remodeling efforts. He cited the project’s possible benefits such as future public access to trails and the water, including the outer edge of South Capitol Lake, a craft brewing and distilling center with interest from local educational institutions, dorms for students and residential apartments or condominiums for longer term residents, space for art and antique shows, concerts in the park, and more.
Asked about the timeline of the project, Heidgerken said that the permit process dictates the pace. “It may look like we’re not doing anything on the outside, but on the inside, we’re busy….” He stressed his commitment to the project, and mentioned similar projects he is involved with are thriving.

 “I own three sites on water, all historical, and this is in the category of ‘the right thing’…. This is a high priority – I’m well-funded to do it.”
Potter said that Heidgerken owns the property outright and is under no interest rate pressure to rush things. Heidgerken said he and Potter have a 10 – 15 year relationship of working together and want to do it the right way. Both welcomed public input into the visioning process.

He said his Oregon City, all-waterfront project, the site of the former Blue Heron Paper Company, with 25-30 acres at the end of the Oregon Trail, has attracted national attention.
“For 152 years, there’s been no public access to the (Willamette) Falls…they jumped on it….” he said.

Heidgerken also mentioned success with his ownership of a 70 acre, water strategic piece of the Chambers Bay golf course near Tacoma.
Above: A drawing by Falls Development LLC depicts a remodel of the building at 240 Custer Way, also known as the RST Cellars Building, flanked by housing that could either be dorms for students or apartments, depending on market interest and economic considerations.

Some members of the public stuck around to look at drawings of the proposed redevelopment up close.

Rob Kirkwood, a founding member of the Old Brewhouse Foundation attended the presentation, and said he didn’t know about Tumwater’s citizen comment deadline of October 20 until someone referred him to the Little Hollywood article published on Sunday, October 12.
“I knew a deadline was coming up but I didn’t know when until I was referred to your article….We need more time to comment….it’s a regional asset, a regional responsibility. We need to ensure public access. It could be a county museum, like a Museum of South Sound History, Industry and Art,” said Kirkwood.

The Old Brewhouse Foundation is having its annual meeting on Saturday, October 18, at Timberland Tumwater Library, 7023 New Market Street. The meeting is open to the public and new Foundation members are always welcome, said Kirkwood. A tour of the Old Brewery for Foundation members starts at 3:30 p.m.
Longtime Tumwater resident Nancy Partlow was already aware of the October 20 public comment deadline and will be submitting formal comments to the city.

 “I’ve done some research about the 625 or 1,000 stall parking garage proposals in Alternatives 2 and 3. Just for comparison, the Tumwater Walmart has 730 parking stalls,” says Partlow.   
“The historic brewhouse site is the last place in Tumwater that a hotel and parking garage should be built. The Deschutes Estuary below the lower falls is Tumwater's most important natural area. Its biological diversity is unmatched within the city. 

“Many environmentally destructive things have been done to the Deschutes River and floodplain over the last 100-plus years, starting with the old brewhouse complex, which would never be allowed to be built where it is today. Permitting high-intensity commercial redevelopment of the site, accessible by car from either an on-site parking garage or down the narrow road that runs adjacent to the fence line of Tumwater Falls Park, is a bad idea,” says Partlow.
Audience member Pat Rasmussen stayed after the presentation to speak with Heidgerken about the Native American history of the area. Rasmussen has extensively researched the presence of the Steh-chass Indians and has compiled a sourced paper about the Nisqually tribe. Heidgerken listened, and welcomed her input.

Asked for her thoughts about the redevelopment proposal, Rasmussen said, “The old brewery and Tumwater Historical Park are located on an ancient permanent village site inhabited for thousands of years by the Steh-chass Indians. This site is far too sensitive for the scale of development proposed. The steep slopes behind the brewery are only held in place by the trees….Removing them for development could cause a landslide. The narrow road into the brewery has a steep drop-off to the river below. Any work on that road could cause a landslide directly into the Deschutes River,” said Rasmussen.

Above: A Falls Development LLC conceptual drawing for the Old Brewery area features housing along the railroad, a two lane road access, a parking garage, boardwalk, and more.

In a telephone interview late last week with John Doan, City of Tumwater’s executive administrator, Doan described to Little Hollywood the challenges of the Brewery District and redevelopment plans:

“….There’s community frustration and it’s not getting any easier with time. … People were proud about the brewery – it was an attraction. In the 60’s and 70s, about 900 people worked for the (new) brewery, and most lived no more than a quarter of a mile or half a mile away. Many walked to work or took the trolley. You didn’t have to find parking for 900 people….There’s a challenge of remodeling old buildings to fit today’s world. It’s a balance, and it’s complicated in the sense that there’s a lot of moving parts….”

Asked about the scope of the letter of mutual partnership signed by various entities to create a craft brewery and distilling center, Doan said not to worry about the partnership's limitations or the location of the center – it’s about programmatic cooperation.

“It’s a run at something there’s a market demand for – it’s really a field that's very hot….In the end, everybody wants to see something happen down there.”

For more information, contact the City of Tumwater at
For past articles about the Old Brewery and Tumwater’s Brewery District plans, go to and use the search button to type in key words.

For more information about History Programs and Schmidt House tours, contact Don Trosper, Public History and Development Manager, (360) 786-8117 or or the Olympia Tumwater Foundation, (360) 943-2550 or

Above: Inside the Old Brewery tower as seen on October 8, 2014 during a tour of the Tumwater property.
Editor's Note, October 18: A caption for this story for a Falls Development LLC conceptual drawing misidentified the proposed building depicted. It was identified as the brewery tower. It is the 240 Custer Way building, also known as the RST Cellars building. The error has been corrected.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Tumwater Seeks Public Comment on Old Brewery Proposed Development

Above: The Old Brewery in Tumwater and the Deschutes River as seen today.

By Janine Unsoeld

The City of Tumwater is in the process of preparing an environmental impact statement (EIS) for the proposed redevelopment of an area that includes the Old Brewhouse.

The city has determined this redevelopment is likely to have a significant adverse impact on the environment.
The site is bounded by Custer Way to the south, the Deschutes River to the west, Capitol Lake to the north and the railroad to the east.

All comments to the city are due no later than October 20, 2014 by 5:00 p.m.

Comments on alternatives, mitigation measures, probable significant adverse impacts, and licenses or other approvals that may be required may be directed to: Tim Smith, AICP, City of Tumwater Planning Manager, 555 Israel Road SW, Tumwater, WA 98501; or (360) 754-4212. 

In comments, refer to case TUM-14-0741. Be clear and concise and if possible, identify possible solutions. For a full description of the plans and proposed alternatives, contact the City of Tumwater.

The city was recently awarded a planning grant from the Community Economic Revitalization Board (CERB) to review the potential for public/private partnerships as the site redevelops.  
“According to the grant, we have to be done by June 2015, but we’re targeting a deadline in spring, and hope to have an open house for the public to review the draft EIS by the early part of next year,” said Tim Smith, City of Tumwater planner, earlier this week.

Owner’s Old Brewery Vision
The Old Brewery site owner, George Heidgerken, proposes to make the site into a hotel, restaurants, office space, retail, and a craft brewing and distilling center. Heidgerken bought the 22 acre property about four years ago for $1.5 million. His property also includes land on the Tumwater Historical Park side of the river.

Heidgerken has suggested building a walkway bridge across the river into the park. Currently, the only access road down to the property is a gated, narrow one lane road off of Custer Way.

Similar examples of his vision include worldwide destinations, and, closer to home, Spokane’s Riverfront Park with its historic Flour Mill, an area that contains a host of shops, restaurants, sights and activities for tourists and locals alike.  
Old Brewery owner George Heidgerken will speak about his plans in a presentation on Thursday, October 16, 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. at The Schmidt House, 330 Schmidt Place, Tumwater.  Doors open at 11:30 p.m. The event is open to the public. 
Above: The warehouse portion of the brewery has been significantly renovated. The extraordinary space has two floors, totaling about 36,000 square feet.
City of Tumwater – A City Divided
As I-5 cuts through the City of Tumwater, so are the city’s roles and responsibilities divided.

While the city is the lead agency in charge of determining the significant impact a redevelopment of the area would have on the environment, it is also a full partner in working with the current owner to redevelop the site into a craft brewing and distilling center.

A formal letter of mutual public/private partnership was signed in May by eight local organizations and their leaders expressly mentioning this as the primary purpose for their partnership.
The letter is signed by Old Brewery owner George Heidgerken, as president of Falls Development, and leading representatives of the Thurston County Economic Development Council, the Olympia Tumwater Foundation, the Port of Olympia, Washington State University Extension, South Puget Sound Community College, the Washington State University School of Food Science and the City of Tumwater.

No tribal, county, or City of Olympia organizations or representatives are listed as partners.
Additionally, according to the October newsletter of the Old Brewhouse Foundation, the city issued a contract in mid-September with a team led by an architectural firm to do a feasibility study on the craft brewing and distilling center goal. Part of their goal is to consider how the main Old Brewery tower can be purchased from its current owner.

The team’s report is expected to be presented to the city in January 2015. The Foundation says it will be “…monitoring the progress of this study and continue to encourage incorporation of a museum, beer-making demonstration opportunities and public gathering spaces as part of the project.”

The mission of the Old Brewhouse Foundation,  an organization created in 2008, is to facilitate development of a plan for acquisition,  restoration and public utilization of the Old Brew house area.

State Environmental Review Process
The City of Tumwater was awarded a grant from the Washington State Department of Ecology to assist with conducting an environmental review of the former brewery area.

The planned action environmental impact statement allows a project-level environmental review under the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) to proceed in advance of project permit application(s) within the planning area.
It will describe a range of development alternatives, evaluate the potential impacts of these scenarios, and identify required mitigation measures to reduce or eliminate significant adverse impacts.

Following its completion and the city’s adoption of a planned action ordinance, a specific development proposal can move forward without further environmental review provided the proposed development is consistent with the EIS and within the range of impacts that have been addressed.
Above: Construction equipment and maintenance debris was seen around the Old Brewery building earlier this week. Multiple areas with black tubing were seen in place trying to divert the water. The hillside is where a multiple story proposed parking garage would be in Alternatives 2 and 3. Tumwater planner Tim Smith said artesian springs are in the hillside and a 1000 stall parking garage as proposed in Alternative 3 would be about five to nine stories.
According to Chris Carlson, permit manager for the City of Tumwater, the concrete moats around the building are original to the building, to contain and divert water into a cistern, or large storage tanks, located under the building. This water was used in the brewing process.
Brewery District Vision

Through the Brewery District planning and visioning projects that have been conducted to date, the community has articulated a desire to make the brewery district a vibrant mixed-use destination.  
According to the City of Tumwater website, redevelopment of the historic brewery site has numerous public benefits. These include recreational opportunities and an expanded and integrated trail network. 

It also states that renovation of the historic tower represents civic pride in the brewery site and a successful redevelopment process retaining the architectural and aesthetic elements of the buildings are valuable for the site as living history. 
Potential areas to be considered in the environmental impact study includes: earth (a geotechnical analysis will be prepared), water (wetlands and shorelines), plants and animals; environmental health (former site contamination and hazardous materials); land use; historic and cultural resources; transportation, circulation and parking; public utilities; public services; economy, and a community policy analysis.

Washington Administrative Code 197-11-444 lists elements of the environment that could be considered.

Upper Picture: City of Tumwater planner Tim Smith provided a tour of the Old Brewery to a group of interested citizens earlier this week. When asked, Smith said the Old Brewery property was created on fill and the current parking lot is in a 100 year floodplain. He distributed a 1920’s era picture of the property, above, for reference.
 Proposed Alternatives

According to the City of Tumwater website, three build out alternatives will be analyzed for potential impacts over a 20-year planning horizon:

Alternative 1: No Action. The EIS is required to evaluate impacts associated with a No Action Alternative. For the purpose of the No Action Alternative in the Tumwater Brewery Planned Action EIS, it is assumed that development would occur within the site consistent with existing zoning. Any such development or redevelopment that is proposed within site in conjunction with the No Action Alternative would undergo environmental review on a project-by-project basis. Such projects would be subject to site-specific mitigation and potential SEPA-based appeals, without coverage under the non-project, Planned Action EIS process. Total lot coverage by existing buildings likely to be redeveloped is approximately 67,000 square feet (SF) with approximately 262,000 gross square feet (GSF) of buildable space. Alternative 2: Mixed-Use Redevelopment utilizing 493,500 GSF of space.
Alternative 2 is assumed to include redevelopment within existing buildings (262,000 GSF), a new parking structure (200,000 GSF) with approximately 625 stalls and rebuild two demolished structures (31,500 GSF). Prospective land uses would include: parking, office, retail, distillery, craft brewing, hotel, restaurant and a museum. Total lot coverage by buildings is approximately 140,000 SF. Improved vehicular access, pedestrian bridge over the Deschutes River, connecting trail system and boardwalk are also included in this alternative.

Alternative 3: Mixed-Use Redevelopment utilizing 763,500 GSF of space. Alternative 3 is assumed to include redevelopment within existing buildings (262,000 GSF), a new parking structure (320,000 GSF) with approximately 1,000 stalls, rebuild two demolished structures (31,500 GSF) and a new-build structure (150,000 GSF). Prospective land uses under Alternative 3 would be the same as those under Alternative 2, plus residential (apartments and condos). Total lot coverage by buildings is approximately 160,000 SF. Similar to Alternative 2, improved vehicular access, pedestrian bridge over the Deschutes River, connecting trail system and boardwalk are included in this alternative.

Above: The Old Brewery in Tumwater as seen on a tour earlier this week.
For more information about Tumwater's Brewery District Plan, go to the City of Tumwater's website at or see past articles at and use the search button.
For more information about the Old Brewhouse Foundation, go to

Great Blue Heron Rookery Saved From Development

Above: Volunteers Meghan Hopkins and her four year old daughter, Clare, clear ivy from land at the end of Dickinson Avenue NW, recently purchased by Alicia Elliott.

By Janine Unsoeld

The Olympia Coalition for Ecosystems Preservation announced this weekend that a Great Blue Heron rookery on Olympia’s westside has been saved.
In an open letter to the community this weekend, Daniel Einstein, founder of the Coalition, said that Olympian Alicia Elliott bought the property, thus preventing it from being developed into townhomes.

The group formed after it was announced that the city had received an application for a short plat and townhome development. The developer, Glenn Wells, proposed the construction of three, two-unit townhomes,Wells Townhomes, and a six bay detached garage.

The letter from the Coalition states that Elliott was moved by the threat facing the rookery.
…That began a journey which has led Alicia to purchase the 1.84-acre parcel that holds most, but not all, of the nesting trees. She is now under contract to purchase the adjacent 2.73-acre parcel to the north. This provides a critical buffer for the herons as they return for the winter breeding season. At the same time, we are in positive negotiations with the developer, who has been very receptive to the unique habitat profile of his property….”

Alicia Elliott is also known for purchasing vacant property on the corner of Division and Harrison, and creating the space into a vibrant community area now called West Central Park. Most recently, Elliott also bought the property of the former DeGarmo’s Pharmacy next to the park. That space is scheduled to be converted into a cafĂ© in the Spring of 2015.
Rookery's First Seasonal Work Party

At the Coalition's first seasonal work party held this afternoon at the rookery site located at the end of Dickinson Avenue NW, many volunteers came to thank Elliott and work to clear the site of ivy and other debris.
Einstein took time to briefly describe the property’s purchase and history of the area.

“The developer was in a reciprocal easement agreement with another property owner through this driveway to access utilities, sewer, electric, gas. Any future subdivision could buy into his utility. Buying this parcel takes that out of the picture because these properties will never be subdivided,” said Einstein.

“In 2009, the developer logged the property, going right through the heron's nesting trees, and created a 450 foot driveway. After it was logged, the blue heron population plummeted.”

Asked if he has found any dead herons, Einstein said yes.

“We did find dead chicks and eggshells. We can’t prove it was directly linked to the logging because herons are preyed upon by eagles, but part of that is, the clearing of the trees left the nests wide open for the eagles to get in. They are also very sensitive to noise and this was a huge disruption,” said Einstein.
Einstein said there are 14 nests on the property. “That means 28 adults, and each nest usually contains four eggs, so there are about 50 to 60 herons here at the height of breeding season.”

Einstein says their breeding season is in August and September.
“The herons are gone now to other places, but they’ll be coming back in January or February, so this is our window of opportunity to do work. We want to create a viable ecosystem, so there’s going to be some restoration.”

Einstein says the remains of a former homeless camp there have been cleared.
“The idea is to close this area off and create a habitat preserve. We’re going to have to create that because there isn’t one in city code. The herons need to be left alone so we can enjoy them down on the shoreline. We are also working to daylight Schneider Creek and restore it for fish passage….Eventually, we want to protect 80 to 90 acres,” said Einstein.

Above: Looking like Truffula trees, this tree has several visible blue heron nests.

While Einstein says he’s been having positive conversations with city officials, a few policies regarding codes and lax permitting have to be changed in order to make progress.

He also stressed the need to make the city’s urban forester position fulltime. City of Olympia Urban Forester Michelle Bentley has a heavy workload and is only available part-time, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon.

Volunteers Make It Happen

“It’s so exciting!” said Debbie Hathaway, a board member of the Olympia Coalition for Ecosystems Preservation.
“It’s been a very encouraging sign that neighbors care about wildlife corridors. It’s a sign of good things to come. It’s also a good example of how we can work together,” said Hathaway.

Northwest neighborhood resident Meghan Hopkins also came, and brought her hard-working four year old daughter, Clare.
“We can see the herons from our living room window. It’s inspiring to see community members come together for what they believe in for the creatures of the natural and human worlds, and balance out everyone’s needs,” said Meghan Hopkins.

For more information about the Olympia Coalition for Ecosystems Preservation, go to:
Back-To-Back Work Parties
Above: Seth Chance, Robyn Montgomery, and Alicia Elliott take a brief break from working while Ruben Males rakes the open space at West Central Park today. The park features edible and medicinal plants, which are scheduled to be labeled with small brass plaques.Today, workers harvested the last of the tomatoes, delicata squash, and strawberries of the season.

For more information about West Central Park, Alicia Elliott, and DeGarmo’s Pharmacy, go to and type key words into the search engine.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Murder on Lilly

City, Community Mourn Death of Beloved Maple Tree
Above: The root system of an 80 year old Bigleaf maple tree in Olympia was cut in April by subcontractors of CenturyLink. The tree was deemed a loss by city staff and cut down in late September. The tree was located on the property of Surgical Associates, on the corner of Ensign and Lilly Road in northeast Olympia near St. Peter's Hospital.
By Janine Unsoeld

A large Bigleaf maple tree was murdered on the corner of Ensign and Lilly in northeast Olympia. Its death is being mourned by city staff and community members who have admired its beauty in all seasons.

The tree was estimated to be eighty years old. Its diameter was estimated to be 71 inches.

The tree was killed by subcontractors of CenturyLink, South Bay Excavating, Inc., who were observed on April 25 digging a deep trench adjacent to the tree, cutting into its root system.The tree was located in the city’s right-of-way at 3610 Ensign Road NE, on the property of Surgical Associates.

Staff at Surgical Associates, puzzled about what was going on, called the city to report the work.

“I came to work and saw them doing something and thought, 'this isn’t right',” said Michael Brooks, an employee at Surgical Associates.

“I only started here in March but I loved that tree. None of us are happy….About two or three weeks later, we found out what happened. I was just mortified….” said Brooks earlier this week.

Above: This picture of the Bigleaf maple was taken September 26.
On September 26, the tree was observed by Little Hollywood to be in the process of being cut down over a period of several hours by Asplundh, a tree maintenance company, which prompted an inquiry to City of Olympia staff.

When first asked about the tree, it was difficult for City of Olympia Urban Forester Michelle Bentley to speak of the loss.
“That large maple tree, the absolutely magnificent tree in front of Surgical Associates, unfortunately, very unfortunately…we were very disturbed about this. CenturyLink was in there this spring, upgrading some of its boxes and underground utility lines. They severely cut the rooting system of that tree, making it extremely prone to wind throw, and it was not safe to have it remain through this winter. It was just a terrible loss…we at the city were all…yeah, unfortunately, the roots were damaged and tree had to come down,” said Bentley.

The Cover-Up and Investigation
City of Olympia senior vegetation specialist Tom Otto says it was the staff of Surgical Associates who first noticed the work being done and reported it.

“By the time we got there, they (the workers) had backfilled it, and prettied it up,” says Otto, a certified arborist and certified tree risk assessor.
“It’s really been a painful process… it’s really tough to appraise a tree like that. The problem was that if the tree failed, the hospital might have to go on an emergency generator, or could impede the entrance to the emergency room,” said Otto. The tree was located near transformers and utilities that serve St. Peter’s Hospital.

On his hazard tree assessment form, Otto noted structural and fine root damage along the south and east sides of the tree, and that root failure would likely lead to whole tree failure. The report includes two pictures depicting the scene. 
“More than 33% of the roots were damaged within the critical root zone and on the upwind side of prevailing wind direction. Ganodrema applinatum fungal conks around base on tree and in cavity opening. Primary power lines feeding hospital; commercial medical buildings, parking lot, major intersection leading to hospital, communication utility junction boxes. Total risk factor of 11 out of 12,” Otto stated in his report dated May 8, 2014.

“Given the extent of the root damage on the upwind side, the trees (sic) structural integrity has likely been significantly compromised. Tree failure could likely cause significant damage to infrastructure, vehicles, and potentially harm people,” Otto also noted.
When asked about the possibility of extraordinary life support measures, such as those in place for trees on the state Capitol Campus, Otto says the city hired a consulting arborist to conduct a separate assessment of the maple. 

“I’m aware of the efforts to save declining trees on the Capitol Campus because of their historical significance however, this tree would likely never receive that kind of consideration. As for the decision to remove, it was a made by several people here at the city and based on my risk assessment,” said Otto.
Adequate Restitution For Crime?

In a restitution letter dated May 30 addressed to Bob Watters, Contract Project Administrator of the Qwest Corporation doing business as CenturyLink, the City of Olympia did not ask for a dollar amount. It cites Olympia Municipal Code, Section 16.60.020 regarding tree protection zones and the definition of removal.
“....The tree damage is a clear violation of the City's code...The only acceptable means of restoration for this damage is to remove the remainder of the tree, grind the stump below grade, and pay for the cost of a replacement tree….The City will purchase and plant a replacement tree after the removal of the damaged tree and stump. This will ensure quality of the nursery stock and planting….” says the city’s restitution letter to CenturyLink.

The city billed CenturyLink for the cost of the labor and materials to replant the tree.

Above: The rings of the Bigleaf maple on the corner of Ensign and Lilly Road in Olympia on October 4. The stump has since been removed.
Attempted Murder: Not The First Time
This is not the first time the City of Olympia has caught CenturyLink in its course of work, said Otto. 

Otto says the city put a stop work order on a project on Martin Way when the company was close to a big pine tree.  In another case, CenturyLink was getting ready to create a trench near a tree but it too was stopped in time.
“We wouldn’t have known about this tree (the Bigleaf maple) if the staff at Surgical Associates hadn’t called us,” said Otto.

Urban Forester Michelle Bentley is busy this time of year due to the urgency of hazard tree situations and development review projects, but is very concerned about CenturyLink's actions.

“I met with Bob Watters yesterday to discuss work they will be doing at a Harrison Avenue location. They are now on board to contact us whenever they install equipment within the city right-of-way adjacent to trees so we can meet on-site and determine the best course of action to protect the trees,” said Bentley in an email to Little Hollywood this morning.

Otto encourages anyone who is seeing work done on a tree and has questions about it to call the city. He also noted that there is no inventory of trees that are in the city’s public right-of-way.

“We have an inventory of trees on city property that are typically downtown and along major arterials. It’s not as comprehensive as it could be….” said Otto.

The city’s Urban Forestry program is located in the City of Olympia's Public Works Department, Water Resources department. For more information, contact Michelle Bentley at or (360) 753-8046.

Above: The view from Surgical Associates will never be the same.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Heck and McDonald Debate 10th District Issues

By Janine Unsoeld

A debate Monday night between the 10th Congressional District candidates, incumbent Democrat Denny Heck and Republican challenger Joyce McDonald, drew about 60 people. The event was held at the Washington Center for the Performing Arts in Olympia.
Cythnia Iyall, chairperson of the Nisqually Indian Tribe, moderated 11 pre-determined questions, and Allyson Brooks, vice president of the Olympia chapter of the League of Women Voters, asked several questions posed by audience members, written on index cards.

The debate was taped for broadcast on Thurston County Television (TCTV).

Heck mentioned the Seahawks game in progress as a possible reason for the sparse crowd and kept the audience up on the game score during the debate and announced its outcome at the debate’s end, which received the loudest cheer of the evening.

Heck answered each question with confidence while McDonald read some answers about national or international issues from prepared notecards.  She spoke most warmly and effectively about being a former foster parent and softball coach, and her time as a state legislator. McDonald also has several years of experience on the Pierce County council.
Questions covered standard election issues: the revenue disparity between rich and poor, federal legislation for curbing carbon emissions, the quality of the rail system with regard to safe fossil fuel transport, immigration, foreign policy, wounded veterans, jobs and more.
Questions posed by the South Sound audience were also wide ranging. McDonald was sometimes vague, as was Heck, who also liked to tell stories and use his allotted time to its fullest capacity.

In brief:

Should the Washington Redskins be compelled to change its name or face Congressional censure?

McDonald: …Public pressure should do the job for them…. the market tends to work quite well in these cases...I don’t think it’s the role of government….

Heck: Yes. Nobody has the right to engage in a racial slur….It's deeply insensitive to the First Peoples of this nation....

The Trans Pacific Partnership - How can we protect our local environment and jobs?
Heck: Well, I think you've touched upon two of the three criteria I think applies to any proposal for the Partnership...this is kind of a big deal - this is a proposal to enter into a trade agreement with 11 other nations…it is fraught with both danger and opportunity: Three criteria should include: 1) assurance that its adoption will not harm workers…2) Assurance that we are not just exporting low governmental standards… 3) assurances that it will protect our sovereignty….we ought not to delegate the right to set policy for America. 

McDonald:  …At the Congressional level, I would very clearly be working on it depending on what committee picked it up…this is a very important issue, a more important issue for Washington State than for some others so I’d be following this very closely….
The proposal to de-list the Great Wolf from the protection of the Endangered Species Act:

McDonald: I wouldn’t support that...I don’t think they’ve come back with enough population to warrant that…
Heck: …Science ought to dictate this…it ought not to be a political decision, it ought to be based on science. It just seems to me that it shouldn’t be that difficult to determine whether or not the base of that population is sufficient….

What to do about the high incarceration rate in the United States:
Heck: …I think it’s more than worrisome when America has the highest incarceration rate in the world…This is a very expensive way to deal with problems in our’s a lot cheaper to invest up front…in a strong education system so they can see the future of hope….

McDonald: …In Pierce County, we put in place other alternatives to incarceration and allow… alternatives to court such as drug court and veteran’s court…and put people into pathways…rather than just put them in jail and throw away the key…As a former foster parent, I understand that some people have to play the hand they are dealt, but we need to bring people alongside so they can get the help and encouragement and modeling that they need to become productive citizens….
Funding priorities and if you would increase funding for the National Park Service:

McDonald: I’d love to but… my priority will be getting on board with a plan that will reduce the federal debt so we don’t continue to burden our future generations….so I won’t be going there to increase funding. I’ll be going there to see if we can’t find a way to maintain…what we have….
Heck: The fact of the matter is that we get to the point that the funding for providing for some of these facilities and services is so low that it will end up costing us more in the long term… our national parks have been degraded over the last several years…The bigger threat is sequestration….

If Shelton were to receive 400 new immigrants who are meeting their families in Mason County, who should pay for the bi-lingual teachers and the load on the schools and the community?
Heck: It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provisions for the education of all children….It is unequivocal….

McDonald: Unfortunately, the state of Washington would have to pick up the bill for those children… but this is just another example of …where the federal government has…failed to do its job….to enforce existing law. In my perspective, this is something that should be picked up, at the very least, by the federal government….
Should President Obama ask for a declaration of war against the Islamic State? How would you vote and why:

McDonald: Well, I think it’s evident that the Islamic State has made a declaration of war against the United States and its citizens by beheading American citizens and other citizens of allies of the United States…I think it’s definitely something that should be debated in Congress. It’s not that simple, an act of declaring war and then we run into a country, and start bombing and put troops on the ground…. War is a very serious matter and people’s lives, people we love, who put their lives on the line….Our military is the best in the world….so I’m just not sure this is the right time to be making a declaration of war….but when the time comes, the President should go with Congress, and with one voice, we should take care of the business that must be taken care of.
Heck: …Not once has war been formally declared since WWII….think back to all our conflicts we’ve been involved with in the last seven years – not once, except WWII, did we formally declare war. What’s happening now at least is that the President is operating under…the Authorized Use for Military Force, AUMF, it is called. It was adopted by Congress in 2002, and that’s what he’s using… as his justification… What I do think is appropriate…and it’s past due, is for Congress to at least try…to… make it more reflective of our times… new conditions and/or limitations, new instructions to the President and our Armed Forces with respect to our involvement there….I think it’s a Congressional responsibility… to at least attempt it.

For more information on Representative Denny Heck’s positions, see an article dated January 8, 2014 titled, “One Year in Congress: Is Congressman Heck Giving ‘Em Heck?” go to and type key words into the search engine.