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Proceed carefully on OPG’s vision
On June 27, I attended a public presentation by Jon Rose of Olympic Property Group, a wholly owned subsidiary of Pope Resources. It was designed to inform us of their vision and plans for the future of Port Gamble, as well as work being done for the Forest and Bay Project. A question and comment period was graciously offered at the end of the presentation.
My comments here are limited to the plans for Port Gamble.
On the face of it, Olympic Property Group has a wonderful vision of what they want to leave as Pope Resources’ legacy of 150 years on Port Gamble Bay. They want to maintain the characteristics of this town that all have come to treasure. The questions at the presentation were few and the comments mostly positive. Some of the comments, though, were a bit fawning and reflected the capital interests of the speaker, particularly in the case of the representative from the local tourism board, who was effusive in her praise and transparent in her goal to get tourist dollars. She didn’t once mention the environmental impact of increased traffic.
It is discouraging that after all we know of the havoc corporations have wreaked, over the last few years especially, on both our environment and economy, there are those who don’t pause and reflect but rather rush headlong for the bottom line. We all know too well that the better something looks on a shiny power point, the deeper we need to look into it. That is not to say OPG’s efforts are devious. I applaud their efforts to attempt cleaning up an area that was so devastated by the logging industry.
However, there are many aspects to their plan that we will need to monitor closely. The plans for the replacement of the water treatment plan for a septic system need to be impeccable. The water table is high in that area and, with the density of the community they plan, I worry about the water supply being ruined.
The plans for the waterfront need to be beyond first rate. The bay is polluted, despite what Mr. Rose said about the water quality being excellent. Perhaps compared to other areas that have been devastated by industry, that is a true statement. But, if my experience tells me anything, we need to do better than industry standards and state threshold requirements for clean-up. This is our one chance to get it right.
So, it is imperative that all county, state and federal government environmental requirements, checks and balances, be strictly followed. OPG will file an Environmental Impact Statement as required by law. North Kitsap residents and other concerned citizens must read it to make sure that the standards as set forth by SEPA are followed. It is essential that when the public comments period is open, people participate fully in bringing up any points they have to the respective government committees.
With all that, however, I am encouraged by the actions of OPG and know that with their efforts, and ours, we will have a jewel of a town out here in North Kitsap.