Public Works Update: New life for Park Lane’s downed trees

Robin Kirk, the wood mill and carpentry shop supervisor from the Department of Natural Resources, who manages the inmate crew, directs Don Schmidt, not shown, as he loads a Park Lane trunk onto the Department of Natural Resources truck.  

Robin Kirk, the wood mill and carpentry shop supervisor from the Department of Natural Resources, who manages the inmate crew, directs Don Schmidt, not shown, as he loads a Park Lane trunk onto the Department of Natural Resources truck.  

A Department of Natural Resources program will transform trunks into treasures


The Department of Natural Resources pilot urban renewal program is offering new life for Park Lane’s trees by cutting them into lumber from which it will build furniture, signs or art. In this photo, inmate Gary Balch, left in red, Department of Natural Resources wood mill supervisor, center in blue, and inmate Don Schmidt, far right in red, load on Feb. 9 the logs into the Department of Natural Resources truck for transport to the Cedar Creek Correctional Center. There, they’ll dry for four months. Kirkland will be using a portion of the wood for signage to tell the story of Park Lane’s history.

The Department of Natural Resources pilot urban renewal program is offering new life for Park Lane’s trees by cutting them into lumber from which it will build furniture, signs or art. In this photo, inmate Gary Balch, left in red, Department of Natural Resources wood mill supervisor, center in blue, and inmate Don Schmidt, far right in red, load on Feb. 9 the logs into the Department of Natural Resources truck for transport to the Cedar Creek Correctional Center. There, they’ll dry for four months. Kirkland will be using a portion of the wood for signage to tell the story of Park Lane’s history.

A second life for Park Lane’s down trees began Feb. 9 when a three-man crew—two of them minimum security inmates from Cedar Creek Correctional Center — arrived at Everest Park’s north parking lot to transport those rain-soaked tree trunks back to the Correctional Center in Littlerock, Wash.  At that facility, 10 or so inmates will transform the trunks into benches and other furniture, as well as an artistic backing for an interpretive sign.

Park Lane will get the artistic sign backing. Charities will benefit from the benches. 

“It’s part of the Urban Renewal Project, using inmates for labor,” said Robin Kirk, the wood mill and carpentry shop supervisor from the Department of Natural Resources. “Cities and counties can call us up and we’ll make lumber out of the trees. We’ll make furnishings out of it. The opportunities are endless.”

The pilot program’s primary purpose is to prevent the logs from becoming firewood, which would produce carbon when burned for heat. And so far, the program has partnered with the cities of Olympia and Puyallup and now Kirkland.

“We have milled thousands of board-feet in quartersawn oak for the city of Olympia,” Kirk said in a Jan. 26 email. “This wood has been dried and we will be donating a lot of it to Evergreen College and the [Arbutus Family Foundation]. We will also be making a lot of small woodworking items to be sold at an auction to raise money for needy organizations.”

Kirkland will use some of Park Lane’s lumber to create an interpretive sign that details Park Lane’s history.

“Whatever we don’t repurpose will be donated to the Program to help ensure its success,” said Kirkland Urban Forester Deb Powers, who contacted the urban renewal program’s staff.