A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Linn County and the Wheelhouse trees

Written May 14th, 2024 by Hasso Hering

Below two old piles perhaps left over from the Buzz Saw restaurant, here are some of the stumps left by the trimming contracted by Linn County on the bank below the Wheelhouse building.

It was Linn County that caused about two dozen bushes and small riverbank trees on the Willamette to be cut down last week.

Following up on yesterday’s story about this then-unexplained tree cutting, I heard this morning from Roger Nyquist, chairman of the Linn County Board of Commissioners.

I had contacted him Monday night, wondering if the county had anything to do with the operation on the riverbank in front of the county-owned Wheelhouse building. He didn’t think so but would check.

This morning I heard back. “It was the county,” Nyquist wrote in an email as he was headed into a board meeting.

Alex Paul, the county’s communcations officer, checked around and came up with this explanation later in the day:

“It is our understanding that the previous owner of the Wheelhouse had gotten permission from the city from time to time to trim the brush on the bank below the north side of the building.

“Linn County recently received permission from the city’s parks maintenance folks to do the same. We contracted the job out. The city was surprised at the level of trimming that occurred. County staff who supervised the trimming were not aware of how the extent of the work would be perceived by some members of the public.

“Fortunately, trees and bushes will grow back and in the future, county staff will ensure that any trimming allowed will conform to the City of Albany’s expectations.”

This leaves open the question of why this was done in the first place. The obvious answer is to preserve views of the river from the benches on the top of the bank, and maybe from the Wheelhouse too.

If that’s the reason, the job isn’t quite finished. If it’s not the reason, I trust the county will let me know. (hh)

13 responses to “Linn County and the Wheelhouse trees”

  1. M.S.Campbell says:

    Trim grows back. Cut does not

  2. MarK says:

    Speaking of trees, why doesn’t the City Planner require developers to replant AT LEAST the same number of trees that they remove? No, it won’t make up for the mature trees that are removed, but it’s still better than the concrete and asphalt jungles we’re left with. So much for being called a “tree city “.

  3. Coffee says:

    Yes, trimming grows back, as M.S. Campbell said, but this was not trimming. It was killing trees. Campbell also said trees cut completely off do not grow back. I thought the answer from the county person about making sure in the future that their trimming “meets the city’s expectations” was a smart-aleck remark. There will be no future trimming of those trees. They will not grow back, as they were completely cut off with tall stumps remaining.

  4. Bill Kapaun says:

    Why doesn’t anybody ask- “WHO decided they needed to be trimmed and WHY? Because a few leaves drop in the Fall?

  5. Bob Zybach says:

    Note: It depends on the tree. Epicormic sprouting determines if a tree will grow back after being cut, or not.

    My personal preference is to favor the view over trees and brush. Most of these river banks were largely free of brush and trees prior to white settllement, according to survey notes, early photos, and drawings.

  6. thomas earl cordier says:

    As a customer taking AMTRAK to Seattle from Albany several times; I wish amtrak would cut/remove all the scrub trees along their fence lines so we could enjoy the scenery w/o all the clutter. Perhaps the Wheelhouse occupants like the view of the river w/o clutter.

  7. david pulver says:

    county staff supervised. is this a case of someone supervising something they know absolutely nothing about? that will be a first. it seems to me a supervisor was there to prevent such a thing. silly me for thinking.

    • Bob Zybach says:

      I think a good supervisor would have had them remove more brush and trees, David, if the objective was to restore the precontact landscape or provide a view of the river. A “plant out of place” is the technical name for a weed. They could have done a better job with an experienced supervisor — we agree on that.

  8. Sue says:

    First, the county buys the most professional looking office building in Albany. Then, the county forces out existing Albany businesses from the building when comparable office space is non-existent in the city. (They legally have to honor existing leases but will not allow extensions, expansions, or modifications.) Now, the county does what it wants with the riverbank and cites parks permission and previous owner precedent. As an employee of a business located in the Wheelhouse over the past years, I can confirm that the previous owner never sawed down the vegetation and trees as the county has done. Apparently the county can do whatever it would like despite the needs of area businesses and the public.


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