In Memory of Drew Nielsen
Early 1990s, meeting Drew at one of the first NW Neighborhood meetings and volunteered to be on steering committee to save the 13th & Colby property and build a park. Worked alongside Drew as we put in playground, pergola, and all the wisteria, plants, and water. What a wonderful person to work with through the year on neighborhood issues, including the hospital. Always kept calm and was a peacemaker! He went to bat for me after I was not able to serve on Historical Commission as I was a city employee. He worked to have policy changed and called me with the news it was now possible to serve and be a city employee. Drew always had class, listened to everyone’s issues and did not hurry or jump to conclusions. Man of great passion for the people and place of Everett. What a man and what a legacy he has left. May we carry on for the good of our beloved Everett in his honor and memory.
Drew was a great friend, neighbor and bicycling buddy for over 20 years. His enthusiasm for our NW Everett Neighborhood and all of Everett was infectious. That passion helped create The NW Everett Neighborhood Association and The NW Everett Neighborhood Park. It eventually led Drew to the Everett City Council where the entire city benefited from his efforts.
With Drew’s death, I have lost a friend and the neighborhood and the people of Everett have lost an advocate and leader whom we will miss for years to come.
Drew Nielsen was the most thoughtful and well informed elected official in the city. We sparred over many ideas, arguing back and forth, with the result that both of us became more enlightened, I think. Without Drew, the city would not have a Bicycle Plan. Neither would it have the NW Neighborhood Park, which should be renamed for him. He was a brave man, whose service to the city was unmatched; he is Impossible to replace, but we must pick somebody new with Drew in mind so that the progressive direction in Everett is not thwarted.
Drew Nielsen served Everett with integrity and fairness. He knew the law; keeping vigilant for exceptions and end runs around it. He felt strongly about what would be best for Everett as a whole and disliked those that rubber-stamped inside interests. Hopefully young civic minded citizens will study archived videos of the city council business and observe Drew at work doing city business for 8 years. He won peoples’ vote because of his steadfast dedication to guiding Everett’s administration in fair treatment of all residents, and questioning proposals that effect the commons. You will be greatly missed Drew.
Drew’s roots are here at Everett CC. His mother Marjorie was a student here in 44 – 46, and worked here from 46 until the mid 1980’s. Drew was a student here as well and always spoke highly of the time he spent here. I first met Drew at a NW Neighborhood meeting held at the hospital. We walked home a couple of times from those meetings, since our home is about a block over. He’d spend most of the walk talking about the gourmet meal he was about to enjoy, and I’d be thinking about the cold meatloaf that would be waiting for me. Our kids have played at what we call “the little park” for 15 years, and I can think of no better way to honor his work than naming that special place after Drew.
–John Olson, Vice President of College Advancement, EvCC
Drew nominated me for the Charter Review Committee because he wanted a representative from the south end of Everett. I was honored to serve. Drew resigned from being the president of the city council based on a strong moral stance. Drew asked me to write a letter of support for his last council campaign which I was honored to do. Drew was a passionate advocate of all of us that he represented on the city council. More importantly, he was a very good man. I am honored to have known him!
–Michael Trujillo, Chair & Representative #1 of Cascade View & Twin Creeks Neighborhoods
Susan Russell and I held an art class each summer in my home at 1211 Rucker. Susan lived on the same block as what is now the park, just down the alley, at 1510 12th. She came down to the art class one morning quite agitated, telling me, “Deanne, there are bulldozers up on the corner lot!” Previously, some large houses had been demolished on those properties, both facing Colby and Hoyt, and the lots had been vacant for a while, probably a year or two. We knew that the hospital owned the lots. The bulldozers were smoothing the lots off immediately.
We assembled the children in the Art Class – about a dozen 8 to 10 year olds, and made picket signs, and marched right up there, parading up and down the sidewalk. The Herald came and took pictures, which made the paper the next day. The place was set up for parking, and gravel was put down, and cars began to park there. Susan and I then made petitions and went house-to-house trying to get signatures against having the hospital built or make permanent parking on the lot.
Someone said that we really needed to get a lawyer, and that there was one who lived just a few houses down from the block in question, on Hoyt. His name was Drew Nielsen. We didn’t yet know him, but went to him, told him the situation, and he agreed to help us. He said the first thing we had to do was to get the neighbors to sign covenants not to sell their homes to the hospital.
Susan said, “Drew, I don’t know these people or how to get them to agree to do this.” Drew said, “I’ll go with you and explain to them what is involved.” He went door-to-door with Susan up and down Hoyt, in the area affected, patiently explaining to the home owners that this was the “foot in the door,” and that the hospital would eventually want to buy up more of the properties, as they planned to put the Women and Children’s Pavilion on that spot.
They managed to stop the progress of the hospital temporarily.
Together with him, several of us then organized the NW Neighborhood, and with the strength of numbers, and many meetings with the hospital representatives, we obtained a stay of construction. They still owned the property, but agreed to change the pavilion to the Pacific Campus. Eventually, I don’t know what year, the city bought the property from the hospital, and what was a de facto park became truly legitimate.
Through grants, and neighborhood sweat equity, the pergola was built and landscaped, play equipment was purchased, and the city kept the lawn mowed. It could not have happened without the expertise of Drew. Incidentally, he never charged any fee for all the legal work he did for the neighborhood project, becoming as passionately involved as were the other neighbors.
We all became good friends over the years of this mutual endeavor. It is a joy to see the children playing on the equipment, with parents overseeing, and families enjoying the benefits of all this work that was done with such powerful community spirit.
The NW Neighborhood Park was renamed in Drew Nielsen’s honor and we are delighted to host so many events there each year. In 2019, we were able to install a bike rack at the park, which is in line with his hobbies. And, finally, in 2022, we installed new signs at the park to tell the story of who Drew Nielsen was and let all visitors know what great things he did for Northwest Everett, an the city of Everett.