Fircrest councilman facing stiff fine for cleaning up city park

FIRCREST, Wash. -- A local city councilman is under orders from his own city manager to stop removing weeds and shrubbery from a city park.

Fircrest City Councilman Matt Jolibois claims he's just trying to clean up the park, but if he doesn't stop he could face a fine or banishment.

Maske Park is a source of local pride because of its renowned rhododendrons. But the park has become overgrown in recent years, and Jolibois decided to roll up his sleeves and do what the budget couldn't.

Jolibois isn't your usual politician. He's spent hundreds of hours cleaning up the park by removing overgrown weeds and shrubbery.

The park has new cedar planking and the rhododendrons are once again blooming, but the Fircrest city manager isn't happy with the work Jolibois has done. He posted a warning that anyone caught removing vegetation from the park would be fined $1,000 and banished from the park.

Jolibois also received a letter warning him not to mess with the park, which is located next to City Hall and is visible from the city manager's window.

"He's been next to City Hall outside the window of the City Manager for the last six months," said former Councilman Matt Surina. "(The city manager) could have just peeked out the window and said 'Huh, looks like some stuff got cleaned up.'"

Surina chalks the whole thing up to small town politics.

"I think it's personal. That's what it came down to," he said. "It's almost inexcusable. And I think it's an embarrassment."

Surina's not the only person in town who's come out in favor of Jolibois and his clean-up efforts.

"He believes in this park and he wants to do something good for this town," said neighbor Summer Stockinger. "I am pretty disappointed that they were so reactive."

Jolibois said he will make sure to get city approval before he continues cleaning the park. In the meantime he said he'll continue watering the rhodies no matter what anyone threatens.

Some neighbors say the problem is with the Fircrest mayor, who they believe is annoyed that Jolibois has stood up to him on the council. Neither the mayor nor the city manager were available to comment on the story.