On March 18, the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners held a community meeting to collect feedback from citizens on Olympic Property Group’s preferred design for Port Gamble’s master-planned development.
There were many different comments offered to the commissioners regarding the plans. I encouraged OPG to seriously consider a speedy and thorough archaeological survey, including historical research and below sea-level exploration of the local Port Gamble environment. These would be top priority for the design and building of an interpretive center/museum that they had planned on a portion of the old mill site.
I told those at the gathering that I believed that the southern part of town and the mill site is ideal for some kind of museum that would follow the lead of and expand upon the themes of the current museum that is currently a destination for the town of Port Gamble. The current museum focuses on the tree and how it has been an important part of the history and development of this region.
It may be that my suggestions were nothing new to OPG planners. Later in the hearing, Jon Rose, president of OPG, told the audience about how aware and sensitive he was to the history of Native American ownership of the Port Gamble site. He affirmed that he knew of the S’Klallam village that used to be at the site and that before that it was an important Suquamish fishing site. He also mentioned that there was clear evidence that the Chimacum had also once lived at Port Gamble.
I feel OPG has an unprecedented, rich opportunity to offer all future residents, all visitors and the wider Kitsap County community a museum experience with grounds that will dominate the waterfront land on the old mill site. Some trees can be planted so that the waterfront area becomes a great park, and the museum can chronicle the history of how the tree and the human have evolved together. The museum and landscaped grounds could highlight the recent history of how Pope and Talbott cut and shipped out local trees. Indigenous histories in this area can also be covered, highlighting how the First Nations people used local trees for centuries prior (as evidenced by the culturally modified cedar trees in the area — trees that have been sustainably harvested for their bark as they continue to grow).
The history of how people and trees lived sustainably together for centuries can provide a tremendous message for all future visitors to the town. The museum might even feature other modern sustainable technologies such as a bioremediation sewage system and wind- or wave-power generators. All of these can be incorporated into the new museum and demonstration landscape on the water.
North Kitsap 99%
Community Relations Working Group