Residents work to save ‘Raccoon Lodge’ in Port Townsend

Kevin Mason turned an ancient tree stump into a home for forest creatures as a form of therapy during his cancer treatment. Now, the city fears it could be a danger.

PORT TOWNSEND, Wash. – “Raccoon Lodge”, as it is known, began as a therapeutic project while Kevin Mason was undergoing cancer treatment earlier this year.

“Ideally, I just think that once it’s all done and all the construction is done, one day I’ll see a squirrel sticking its head out the window or even a raccoon. ,” said Mason, 75.

Just outside Mason’s house once stood a 150-year-old cypress tree with a whopping 52 feet in circumference. It went down a few years ago. All that remains is what Mason calls the “sad root”.

An accomplished carpenter, Mason built in the trunk of the tree a peculiar home for the creatures that once called the tree home.

Like a page in Shel Silverstein’s children’s book, the sad stump is making everyone happy again.

Mason said: “I have seen many times people drive past and they smile. “It’s a gift of love for my neighborhood and for my community.”

But the 24-foot-tall structure is on the public side of the road and poses a risk to those passing by.

“The structure there is in danger of collapsing,” said City Manager John Mauro. “Heaven forbid something happens when a structure falls, hurts someone, or damages property.”

The city has given Mason until November 30 to dismantle Raccoon Lodge.

But a petition signed by more than 2,600 people caught the attention of City Hall.

Mauro said Port Townsend prides itself on being an arts-friendly community. Much of the city is designated a “creative district” through a partnership with the Washington State Arts Commission.

“Creative expression is important to me and our town,” says Mauro.

Port Townsend is currently considering allowing Mason to donate or lend the art work, the city will be liable – for the sake of preserving a piece of public art that has touched many in the town. motion.

“If it’s one of those creative solutions that we as a community decide on then this is an important structure for our community from a public art standpoint and we want to keep safe — that’s the right way to do it — we’re open to that because it’s part of our ethos,” Mauro said.

But that is just a proposal, there is a process.

First, a specialist will have to be hired to make sure the trunk is safe and sound. Raccoon Lodge will then be reviewed by the city’s arts committee.

Then Mason and the city will try to find a way to transfer ownership of the artwork.

Mason said the city gave him an extension to the original deadline that came after the first day of the year.

He’s ready to dismantle Raccoon Lodge.

Mason worries that all the stress is affecting his cancer recovery and he just wants to live in peace.

“All I’m trying to do is give it a little life at the end of its life,” he said. “That’s important to me.” Residents work to save ‘Raccoon Lodge’ in Port Townsend

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