Eatonville Town Council is seeking bids for a previously approved tree-removal project in the buffer zone between Glacier View Park and Eatonville Cemetery because the trees in question are causing damage to the property.
The project may seem straight forward and transparent, but many are concerned that the tree-removal project will snowball into a transformation of Glacier View Park’s field into a single-use center for activities like peewee soccer or baseball.
“The park is not built for (a dedicated soccer field),” said Eatonville resident Marlayne Elliff, the de facto leader of a town group intent on preserving the park. “To have a healthy community, you need a healthy park. Communities are judged by three things — their schools, their parks and their churches. Plain and simple.”
She said the park’s land was donated to Eatonville by town founder T.C. VanEaton as a quiet place for families to go on picnics and walks, or for townspeople to enjoy events like the upcoming art festival.
In particular, Elliff said she was worried about the old-growth trees being removed from the park in service to a single-use facility like a place for soccer tournaments.
However, Bill Dunn, Eatonville Town Council member, said plans have never been made to convert the park into a soccer field.
Dunn did, however, suggest using the park’s field as a place for soccer practices as an alternative to using school district fields for such purposes last year. He suggested this in a council brainstorming session as a way to further beautify the town’s parks.
“The discussion has never been about converting the park into a single-use facility; it’s been about increasing its usefulness as a multi-use facility,” Dunn said. “This idea of expanding the park’s usefulness would not interfere with the manners in which the park is currently being enjoyed.”
Dunn said that people are confused as to what the council has planned for the park, due to separate concepts intertwining — the possible conversion of the park into a single-use facility for sports and the tree removal project that the council has already approved.
“To muddy the water now is the existence of a council-approved tree-removal project on the fence line between the park and the cemetery,” Dunn said. “Council approved the money needed to address the issues involving the trees that border the park and the cemetery due to the amount of damage the trees are causing.”
Dunn said all this confusion stems from a question that Town Administrator Abby Gribi proposed as a means to possibly kill two birds with one stone.
“The catalyst for this was when Town Administrator Abby Gribi wanted to move forward with getting bids to perform the tree removal project on the tree line between the park and cemetery,” Dunn said. “Abby presented the question during a committee meeting — if removing any other trees in the general area would be part of any separate projects that council may pursue in the near future as they relate to improving the field area of the park.”
So Mayor Mike Schaub brought up the question at a recent Eatonville Town Council meeting: Would the scope of any Glacier View Park improvements require the removal of any additional trees?
“The council, however, maintained the status quo and has not concluded that the idea of improving the park’s field area includes the removal of any of the trees in the field area itself.”
Dunn said this issue has been rife with confusion and half-truths.
“It can be very discouraging to read some of the misinformation that is being disseminated and the snowball effect that the misinformation can have on members of our community,” Dunn said. “I would encourage anyone who has questions on issues related to the town to contact the mayor, any/all council members, the town administrator and/or the town clerk and get the information first-hand.”
A parks meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. today, July 24, at Eatonville Visitor Center.