City leaders and community members gathered Thursday to celebrate as Edmonds Mayor Mike Nelson received the keys to a property donated to the city for a park and community garden.
Located at 9309 Bowdoin Way, the property was bequeathed to the city by longtime resident Shirely Johnson (born Shirley Spicer), who died in January. With no family to inherit the property, Johnson decided in 2018 to leave her home to the city, on the condition it be used “as a park and/or community garden site and/or to cultivate and grow plants, fruits, vegetables and other related things all for the City of Edmonds and for the citizens of Edmonds and the local community.”
The 1.4-acre site is adjacent to Yost Park, with fruit trees and blackberry vines covering much of the property. For years, it was known by locals as the Spicer farm and Johnson’s mother would raise chickens.
During the Thursday event, Nelson spoke about the importance of green spaces and the impact Johnson’s donation will have on the city.
“We are so excited to continue her legacy and have this be a wonderful extension of our park system,” he said.
The Edmonds City Council voted at its Sept. 21 business meeting to accept the property donation.
Since the city was unable to provide site security before the transfer, Edmonds attorney Pete Bennett oversaw the process of boarding up the house, removing debris, mowing the grass, and other upkeep. Bennett’s father Chet was also a lawyer who represented Johnson’s family. One memory Pete Bennett had was the number of business cards from real estate agents that would pile up at the gate. Still, Johnson refused to move, Bennett recalled.
“They all wanted to buy this place,” he said.
As with any new city park, Edmonds staff will next develop a master plan for the property to determine how the space will be used to benefit the community. The house the family lived in was built in 1925 and is currently uninhabitable. The city plans to demolish it, which will allow for more green spaces, said Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Director Angie Feser.
“It’s a great site for community engagement with a great history,“ she said.
— By Cody Sexton