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EVERETT, Wash. Since 1967, the ladies of the Everett Area Newcomers Club have welcomed new arrivals to their community with a picnic at Legion Memorial Park. For some, Thursday was the first time they d ever seen the glorious trees that tower over the playground, pavilion and Port Gardner Bay.

It could also be their last.

It s so beautiful and then to find out - poof - it s gonna be gone! That s terrible, said member Rose Johnson.

The park s soil is contaminated with arsenic from a turn of the 20th century smelter. Only now has the Department of Ecology allotted money for the $4.75 million clean-up. To remove up to two feet of soil, the city wants to take down almost all of the park s 110 trees. Metal tags nailed into trunks signify the days are numbered for about 80 the 110 trees that currently stand.

It would change the whole atmosphere, said Johnson.

The city claims many of the trees are diseased or dying and that they might as well come down now, as opposed to later.

We don t want any of them to fall or for anyone to get hurt, said John Petersen of Everett s Parks and Recreation Department.

Petersen said the city will save as many trees as it can, and stated that half of the overall canopy will remain.

Our view of it is that we want to prepare the park for the future, for the best, healthiest trees to stay, he said.

Linda Staab lives right across the street from the park. She started a Save the Legion Park Trees Facebook page and thinks this whole situation in rather shady.

The Department of Ecology does not require the removal of the trees, so why do it? she questioned. If the city wanted to preserve them, they would work around them.

Staab is hoping an independent arborist will come forward to help her group determine how many of the trees should actually come down.

I can t imagine there s more than a few, she said.

The trees are slated to come down in October. Petersen said the city plans to plant 100 new trees to offset the losses, but they will be saplings and it would be generations before Legion Memorial Park returns to its old glory.

I won t see them grow up, said Rose Johnson. That s the sad thing.

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