The judge pays off the debt for cutting down the trees in the park

The judge pays off the debt for cutting down the trees in the park

Almost four years after more than 120 cherry and maple trees were felled in Colman Park to create a better view of the lake, a federal judge has fully repaid his debt to the city.

This is the result of a settlement reached in 2003, in which the judge agreed to pay $ 500,000 plus 12% interest.

Farris argued that the trees were cut down following a series of misunderstandings over an old city agreement and because of poor communication with his Vietnamese gardener, who felled the trees.

“It’s a very interesting situation, and who knows what the truth is. Do I think it was fair punishment for what he did? No,” said Nannette martin, a resident of Mount Baker and advocate for Colman Park.

“But money does great things – every park should be so lucky.”

Settlement money has been used to remove stumps, replant native trees and shrubs, and remove invasive species throughout the 24-acre park. He also paid a full-time gardener to coordinate the many volunteer-powered restoration projects that take place there.

For three years, participants in a youth program teaching environmental ethics and professional skills did hard work.

Steve dubiel, who works on park issues for the Mount Baker Community Club, said that given the city’s anemic budget for forestry and vegetation maintenance, funneling so much money into one park has made a big difference.

He is also Managing Director of Earth body, an environmental service organization that helped restore a trail that was part of the original design of the Olmsted brothers when they laid out Colman Park in the early 1900s. It had become overgrown and largely impassable.

“It’s sad that the trees were cut down, and that obviously shouldn’t have happened, but with these funds a really amazing job has taken place and the forest has really been transformed,” he said.

Seattle City Attorney Tom carr, who decided three years ago not to prosecute the case, said the payment is proof the city takes such acts seriously. The $ 618,000 is about three times what the Parks Department estimated it would cost just to replant the trees that were cut.

“The city’s ultimate goal was to make sure Judge Farris paid a hefty fine for the damage done to Colman Park and to deter others from cutting down the city’s trees to improve their eyesight,” he said. he said in a statement.

Efforts to reach Farris, who retired from full-time judicial duties in 1995, failed on Friday. The judge’s final payment was received this week following the sale of his home, city officials said.

Superintendent of Parks Ken bounds said the message should be clear that cutting down state-owned trees for personal gain is “illegal and wrong.” He said the city will continue to use the funds to restore the park.


Pamela W. Robbins

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