PSRoots-L ArchivesArchiver > PSRoots > 1998-10 > 0909515645
From: John Wm Sloniker <>
Subject: Snohomish City can build on Cemetery
Date: Tue, 27 Oct 1998 11:14:05 -0800 (PST)
If you haven't read the Herald, here's the story. -- jws
City can build over old cemetery
Judge orders remains moved for youth center
By PAM McGAFFIN
Tuesday, October 27, 1998
SNOHOMISH -- The city of Snohomish should be permitted to remove and
relocate human remains at an old cemetery where it wants to build a
youth center, a judge decided Monday.
The decision by Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Charles French
also settles a question hanging over an existing senior center on the
property, southeast of Second Street and Pine Avenue.
The Snohomish Tribe and descendants of a pioneer family have tried to
prevent the city from disturbing remains and building on the cemetery
site. They also argued that the senior center should be removed
because it's not a cemetery use.
But French said he found no legal basis to grant their request to
remove the building.
Tom Haensly, attorney representing the tribe and Ruth Moore and
Carolynn Crawford, said his clients haven't decided yet whether
they will appeal.
Meanwhile, Snohomish city manager Bill McDonald expressed relief at
"This is going to remove a cloud that has existed over that property
for 100 years," he said. "Once and for all, we'll solve that big
question mark: What do we do with this property? And we'll do it in
a way that respects the past but allows us to move forward."
"We're excited to get this youth center back on track and under way,"
said Jeff Soth, mayor of Snohomish.
The city has committed to spending $20,000 for a memorial and
interpretive center to explain the property's history, he said.
"We'll have the kind of respect we've always intended to have for the
past," he said.
The controversy surrounds Snohomish County's first cemetery and the
final resting place for about 300 pioneers and Indians. The last
documented burial at the site was of an Indian woman, Pilchuck Julia,
In 1947, the cemetery was split by the construction of Highway 2,
now Second Street. Prior to building the road, the state highway
department had at least 111 sets of remains removed and reinterred at
the G.A.R. Cemetery west of town.
Over the next 40 years, volunteers periodically cleaned up the
cemetery, but it was vandalized, fell into disrepair and become
The poor condition of the cemetery was key to Judge French's ruling.
"The sanctity, respect and dignity to which the deceased are rightly
entitled have been lost and forgotten long ago," he wrote.
"Too much time has passed and too much neglect has occurred for this
Court to conclude the interests of the deceased are better served by
allowing them to remain in their present location."
In 1996, the city, as owner of the property, asked the court to remove
the cemetery dedication so that the youth center could be built. The
senior center was established on a corner of the property in 1992.
Moore and Crawford, descendants of the pioneer Low family, protested
and went to court to try to stop the city from disturbing their
ancestor's graves or building on the land. The Snohomish Tribe also
sought to block the city's plans, saying the cemetery was an Indian
Last June, tests revealed at least one set of human bones at the site.
City officials and the complainants differ as to how many more bodies
might be found. McDonald said the city would be surprised to find
five, whereas the complainants maintain there could be as many as 100.
As part of the court decision, the city will be required to
investigate, locate and map burial sites. Then it must get a court-
approved plan to remove and reinter the remains at another cemetery,
most likely G.A.R.
Haensly, attorney for the complainants, said the city and its partners
could face "huge costs" as it works to prepare the property.
"If the city runs into 100 bodies, 75 bodies, it will be an extremely
expensive undertaking for them," he said. "Our concern is that the
city will disturb the site and not be able to follow through."
McDonald called the concerns "hyperbole." Significant archaeological
work has already been completed, he said, and the senior center and
youth center have agreed to bear those costs under the terms of their
leases with the city, he said.
You can contact Herald writer Pam McGaffin
by e-mail at:
or by phone at 425-339-3429
HeraldNet - Snohomish County's Online Information Source
HeraldNet Opinion - Letters
Copyright (c) 1998 The Daily Herald Co., Everett, Wash.
|Snohomish City can build on Cemetery by John Wm Sloniker <>|