Lakeview cemetery is getting a new wall. pic.twitter.com/EOslpmpd7c
— Ryan Packer (@typewriteralley) August 19, 2020
As far as new Capitol Hill walls go, it will be easier to miss this one. There’s a big change on the backside of the neighborhood’s Lake View Cemetery near 11th and E Howe and it comes with some good news for some old Seattle trees. This cemetery improvement didn’t end up costing the lives of a row of Bigleaf Maples, American Elms, and Copper Beeches that have rooted into the cemetery’s soil for decades.
The construction project “for replacement of an existing and failing retaining wall” for the cemetery on the backside of Lake View started its permitting process about two years ago. According to city records, as the process proceeded last year, it became clear that the planned removal of 14 “exceptional trees” and the possible removal of a dozen more to make way for a new wall faced too many barriers to proceed.
“The trees are variously exceptional individually by species and size and/or as a part of a grove,” a city update from May of 2019 reads.
The cemetery’s contractors were told they would need to coordinate with the Seattle Department of Transportation and federal rules for removing the trees. And — perhaps the ultimate threat — the city started asking about neighborhood outreach to the cemeteries North Capitol Hill neighbors.
By December, a new plan was born that would give the cemetery’s exceptional trees new life. But the plan had a new wrinkle — the new wall would need to be placed in the public right of way to avoid damaging the old trees. It was a compromise the city seemed happy to make on a quiet street dividing two places of rest with Lake View to the south and the Civil War veteran-era Grand Army of the Republic Cemetery, appropriately, to the north.
Construction on the project began earlier this month.
Inside the cemetery, another project is underway to upgrade the much-visited area around the grave site where Bruce and Brandon Lee rest. Meanwhile, Lake View’s toppled monument to the Confederacy remains toppled. The nonprofit that operates the cemetery did not respond to our inquiries about the construction projects.
Want to know what it takes to be an “exception tree” in Seattle? Here’s the table of requirements:
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