City officially accepts property donated by longtime Edmonds resident

Edmonds Mayor Mike Nelson (left) and Peter Bennett (right) discuss Shirley Johnson, a longtime Edmonds resident who donated her property to the City of Edmonds. (Photo by Cody Sexton)

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 property was bequeathed by Shirley Johnson to the City of Edmonds for use as a community park.

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.

The 1.4-acre property has apple trees and blackberry vines growing wild.

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

  1. What a lovely gift to our community. Thank you Shirley Johnson.
    I hope we can honor this space for it’s historical connection to Edmonds’ past and maintain the natural aesthetic, vegetation/trees as much as possible!

  2. We definitely need some way to honor Ms Johnson for her gift. Perhaps use her name for the name of the garden, park or whatever the land becomes. Also, maybe a nice plaque or such telling a brief story of why it will become some type of benefit for the community. What a generous gift to Edmonds. Her heart & soul were here & we need to honor her legacy in some way.

  3. Fantastic gift to the City of Edmonds. I look forward to driving by and someday visiting. I will always remember the family donation for the “greater good”. Edmonds is fortunate to have so many wonderful public spaces!!

  4. Finally something good in Edmonds! This is a beautiful thing and hopefully it will not be abused. I especially love the idea of fruit and vegetable gardens! It would be really nice if some Folks could plant and grow these things so they could be used to help feed some of the hungry and needy people in our Community!
    I live close by and would be happy to lend a hand!!

    1. Thank you, Joe for recognizing people in our own community who are shelter and food challenged.
      In sure Shirley Johnson would smile on that. She was grounded and salt of the earth individual/ family..

  5. If there are Gravenstein apple trees they require 3 of those trees to pollinate so don’t remove any species that require special consideration under endangered and protected laws. It would be a shame to lose these precious native and heirloom plantings.

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