Thursday, January 1, 2015

Polar Bear Plunge 2015


Above: Chris of Lacey, center, took the Polar Bear Plunge today at Long Lake Park.
 
By Janine Unsoeld
www.janineslittlehollywood.blogspot.com

“Do one thing every day that scares you,” a quote attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt, could challenge folks to do a variety of different things. For some, it meant doing the Polar Bear Plunge today at Long Lake Park in Lacey.
“I can’t feel my toes!” a kid exclaimed after taking the New's Year's Day plunge.
Lacey city councilmember Michael Steadman said this was his second time taking the plunge and quickly put on a blue robe.
Hundreds of participants and spectators gathered this afternoon for the 30th annual Polar Bear Plunge, held at Long Lake for the past seven years. Prior to that, the tradition was held at Capitol Lake in Olympia. A note posted on a polar bear sign said the water temperature was 42 degrees. Silly costumes and regalia, hot cocoa and fire pits added to the festivities. Santa and Bigfoot were also in attendance.   
Scantily clad folks weren’t up for much conversation in the 34 degree weather before or after the plunge. Making her way to the water, Paula of Olympia said she had never done it before.
Above: Paula of Olympia was super excited to take the Polar Bear Plunge today.
 
“I woke up this morning and decided I needed to do something new!” laughed Paula of Olympia with a big smile on her face.
Chris of Lacey said a friend talked him into doing it. Asked after his plunge if he’ll do it again next year, he laughed and said, “No way!” He added that it did change his life. His teeth were audibly chattering.

City of Lacey Parks and Recreation staff, lifeguards, police officers and junior explorers, and Lacey Fire Department #3 ensured everyone's safety, and donations were accepted in support of Lacey’s summer lunch program for kids.

ROXY 94.5 radio announcer Jerry Farmer said that today was the second coldest temperature for the plunge at Long Lake and ice was observed on the edge of the lake when activities started this morning.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

All Eyes on Tumwater’s Historic Old Brewery

 
Above: No bulldozers in sight. An aerial photograph taken today over Tumwater’s Old Brewery reveals the area disturbed by significant grading and fill placement in October. City of Tumwater staff met with staff members from the state Department of Ecology’s Shorelands Program and Water Quality Program as well as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to inspect the site on November 14.

By Janine Unsoeld
www.janineslittlehollywood.blogspot.com

As 2014 draws to a close, several sets of eyes are still fixed on the historic Old Brewhouse property in Tumwater. The stop work order continues, put in place by the City of Tumwater in October due to a citizen complaint about significant activities that adversely impacted the environment.
“The stop work order is still in place and will be in place until a mitigation plan is developed for the wetland impact, said Chris Carlson, permitting manager for the City of Tumwater, who has given regular updates on the situation to Little Hollywood.

Carlson said that city staff met with staff members from the state Department of Ecology’s Shorelands Program and Water Quality Program as well as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on site on November 14 at the Old Brewhouse property. 
“We all agreed that a mitigation plan needs to be developed and submitted to the city for review and approval. The property owner will also be required to make application(s) to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the unauthorized work and be subject to any mitigation required under federal law,” said Carlson.

“As a part of the stop work order we have required that a Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) be developed and implemented for the disturbed areas on the south side of the building to prevent water quality impacts. The SWPPP has been submitted to the city and approved. …The SWPPP we approved includes seeding the disturbed areas and covering the disturbed areas with coconut fabric. Staking in straw waddles will also be done on both sides of the road that leads around the building as well as putting a filter fabric stock in the exposed catch basin on the south side of the building,” said Carlson in an email to Little Hollywood in mid- November.
Carlson initially expected applications and mitigation plans to be submitted to the city, Ecology and the Corps for review within 30 days from the day of the initial site visit, however, that expectation turned out to be overly optimistic.

In an email dated December 13 to Little Hollywood, Carlson said the city just got the survey on December 11 outlining the area of the Category III wetland behind the brewhouse that was partially filled.
“Since we received the survey, we’ve been working with the wetland consultants -both the property owner’s and the one working on the Brewery Planned Action Environmental Impact Statement - to identify a mitigation site along the Deschutes River corridor so work on the mitigation plan can begin,” said Carlson. Carlson said he will keep Little Hollywood posted when the city decides on a site and the draft mitigation plan is submitted for review.

Carlson provided Little Hollywood with a map that indicates two disturbed wetland areas directly south of the brewhouse on the hillside containing artesian springs. The area disturbed by grading and fill placement encompasses a combined 5,011 square feet.
There are currently no permits in place at the Old Brewhouse site, says City of Tumwater building official John Darnell.  

“The stop work order is still in effect. They will need to submit plans and engineering to us for review before any additional work can be completed….The on-site erosion control measures that the city required the owner to put in place are complete. I will continue to monitor throughout the winter,” said Darnell.

Above: An aerial photograph taken this morning over the Old Brewery and the Deschutes River.
 
Role of the Tumwater Historic Commission

Meanwhile, the Tumwater Historic Commission reviews applications for projects within the historic district and approves or denies applicant requests for a certificate of appropriateness, which is required as a part of the permitting process.
The commission is looking at several upcoming projects which will require the historical commission’s review before they are approved for development, including projects at the Old Brewhouse.

Chuck Denney, City of Tumwater Parks and Recreation director said George Heidgerken, owner of the historic Old Brewhouse property, does not have a Certificate of Appropriateness before the Historic Commission at this time. 
“….Should any of his brewery projects solidify and he reaches the point where he is submitting paperwork for a development permit – meaning he has a site development plan and is prepared to move forward with construction – he will then be required to obtain the certificate from the commission as a part of the permitting process.  The work he is currently doing does not trigger that requirement. There are several projects in the planning stages in the Historic District that may require the commission’s approval.  Those may include something from Mr. Heidgerken, but also include development of the Deschutes Valley Trail through the Historic District and the reconstruction of the fish hatchery at Tumwater Falls Park,” said Denney.

Public Comment to Proposed Land Use Options
Several state agencies, local governments, nonprofit organizations and individuals weighed in by the October 20 deadline to comment on the city’s land use determination of significance for redevelopment of the site.

The Nisqually Indian Tribe, Washington State Departments of Archaeology and Historical Preservation, Natural Resources, and Ecology, City of Olympia, LOTT Clean Water Alliance, Black Hills Audubon Society, Deschutes Estuary Restoration Team, South Puget Environmental Education Clearinghouse (SPEECH), and the World Temperate Rainforest Network plus seven individuals provided the City of Tumwater with detailed comments about the proposed land use options provided by the city.
Jackie Wall of the Nisqually Indian Tribe, wrote, “The Deschutes River is a very Culturally Sensitive Area that was used by our people for thousands of years. The Nisqually Indian Tribe requests an Archaeological Survey be done by a qualified Archaeologist before there are any ground disturbing activities. I would like to receive a copy of the survey results. The Nisqually Indian Tribe also requests that an Inadvertent Discovery Plan be put in place for this project.”

She also asked to be informed if there are any inadvertent discoveries of archaeological resources or human burials.

A letter and paper submitted by Pat Rasmussen documents that the Steh-chass people lived in a permanent village at the base of Tumwater Falls for time immemorial.

“The village was originally Nisqually but after the Treaty of 1855 became part of Squaxin Island, in their Stehchass Inlet. As the Steh-chass were driven from the permanent village site by settlers who took it over, some fled to Nisqually and others to Squaxin, so there are likely descendents with knowledge of what happened there.” 

She attached an 1854 map she received from the Washington State Historical Society that shows the area with the name Steh-chass on the river, now called the Deschutes River.

For several past stories on Tumwater and its Brewery District Plan, the Old Brewhouse owner and developer George Heidgerken, and the stop work order, go to Little Hollywood, www.janineslittlehollywood.blogspot.com and type key words into the search engine. Recent stories were posted on February 19, October 12, October 16, October 30, and November 5, 2014.
Editor’s Note: Janine Unsoeld also met the October 20 deadline to comment on the city’s Determination of Significance and as a private citizen, requested a stop work order on all activities at the Old Brewery site. This is documented in an article on Little Hollywood dated October 30, 2014. Unsoeld is also a long-time board member of the South Puget Environmental Education Clearinghouse (SPEECH), a 25-year-old nonprofit organization that publishes the South Sound Green Pages.



Above: An aerial photograph taken this morning approaching the Old Brewery from Olympia places the site in the context of the Deschutes River, Tumwater Historic Park and Interstate 5.


 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

West Olympia Neighborhood Gets A Facelift


Above: Two properties on Division Street were recently purchased by Olympia resident Alicia Elliott. The house at 110 Division was in poor condition and demolished today. The property will be the site of a future business. The property next door at 106 Division will be remodeled into another business.

By Janine Unsoeld
www.janineslittlehollywood.blogspot.com

An area near the corner of Harrison and Division continues its transformation into a friendly, walkable neighborhood center in west Olympia.
Olympia resident Alicia Elliott bought two residential properties on busy Division Street earlier this summer and continues her bold vision to transform the area into a neighborhood center that welcomes foot traffic and locally owned businesses.

Recently, Elliott bought the property on the corner of Division and Harrison that became West Central Park, and the former DeGarmo’s Pharmacy property located next door to the park. That property is scheduled to become a café in 2015.

The properties at 106 Division and 110 Division are just down the street from the park. The house at 110 Division was in poor condition and was demolished today.
Elliott watched as Matt Aynardi of Altis Construction, LLC used an excavator to bulldoze the house. Susan Fernbach, a neighborhood resident who lives just behind the property, also watched.

“The area was coming out of its blight by the time I arrived in the neighborhood,” said Fernbach, who has lived behind the property for a year.
The 1930s era house was a rental in poor condition for many years, Elliott said, although she managed to save the new vinyl windows. All the metal and salvageable wood was taken out prior to destruction.  

“The floor, the walls…everything was spongy….I would have restored it if I could,” said Elliott.  
“It’s pretty decrepit. It has a lot of structural problems…to rehabilitate it wouldn’t have been cost effective,” agreed Chris Ruef of Altis Construction, who supervised the demolition. Ruef said he’d have the house down today and all debris removed by Monday.

Elliott said she had to get many environmental permits related to clean air, asbestos, and lead before proceeding with the bulldozing.
Elliott plans to build a two story, 2,500 square foot business on the site and restore the house next door at 106 Division, possibly into a bakery. Plans are still in the design phase but Elliott says that the businesses will look residential from the street. Fifteen parking spaces will be created in the back and a large White Oak tree and three apple trees in the back of the property will be spared.

Above: The yellow house on 106 Division Street will be remodeled into a business. West Central Park can be seen at the intersection of Harrison and Division.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Great Food, Great Company at Barb O’Neill’s Thanksgiving Dinner


By Janine Unsoeld
For 45 years, the Barb O’Neill’s Family and Friends Thanksgiving Dinner has served the community, and did so again today from noon to 5 p.m. at The United Churches in downtown Olympia. Just before 5:00 p.m., it was estimated that 1,500 meals had been served.
Volunteers with community resource organizations such as GRuB, Safeplace, the Thurston/Mason chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), and Quixote Village handed out potentially life-saving literature and information.
Kitchen volunteers monitored the food line often and quickly exchanged empty bowls, pans and platters with full ones. Everyone had their plates full of hot turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, deviled eggs, and stuffing. Some came back more than once.
One volunteer who served food was Gracie Anderson, 15, a student at Olympia High School. She’s been serving meals at the Thanksgiving gathering for five years, and sees a future for herself in social work. She is involved in several clubs at school, including the National Honor Society and debate. She says she loves to talk about local issues.
With her mom and little sister serving desserts nearby, Anderson served garlic bread and extra butter and I served celery sticks and pickles. Although I cheerfully offered both options equally, the pickles were popular and we ran out them by mid-afternoon.
The articulate teenager exuded enthusiasm and told me a few stories. I asked why she keeps coming back to help serve.
“It’s a humbling experience to be able to help people who can’t always help themselves,” she said.
She says she breathes a sigh of relief when she sees the same people back year after year because at least she knows they are O.K. She wonders if the children she sees are homeless.
Anderson says the nice thing about the Thanksgiving Dinner is that anyone can come, so there’s no stigma to coming and being served a good meal. She says that although she feels comfortable around people in need, it also helps for her to visualize that within everyone, there’s a child.
“Sometimes it helps to see the child instead of the adult….and everyone has a story….One year, about two years ago, I got into a heart-to-heart conversation with a woman who said she had cancer and couldn’t afford treatment. I could tell she was weak. I’ve never seen her again…She was amazing,” said Anderson, her voice trailing off in thought.
Anderson said she read a book last year, “In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction,” by Dr. Gabor Mate, and recommended it to anyone who wants to learn more about people and their addictions. She said her mom read it too.
“It was life changing, and gave me a new perspective on what I do here,” she said.
Asked if she’s seen a shift in demographics of those who come to be served, she said she thinks she sees more older children and not as many little kids. “But maybe it’s because I’m more involved and mature and see things with a new perspective.”
Gracie Anderson has also served food for the Barb O’Neill’s Family and Friends gathering at Christmas time and Easter.
“I love Christmas – I helped kids pick out free presents for their parents, and I made about 450 friendship bracelets and gave them all out,” she said. Anderson’s little sister came over and pulled a few of the friendship bracelets out of her pocket. Anderson tied one on my wrist.
“It’s fun when people come back and I see them still wearing their bracelet,” she said.
We were relieved of our posts about 4:00 p.m., and a fresh group of volunteers took over our duties, while a steady stream of visitors still came in to receive food.
Everyone was being served. Some visitors had been there for hours to enjoy the food, company, the live music, coffee, pop, and water, and a warm place to hang out. I enjoyed a meal and several meaningful conversations.
One guy with a great sense of humor told me his life story but warned me that he probably won’t remember our conversation if we see each other again due to a brain injury. A former long haul truck driver, he suffered a brain hemorrhage 13 years ago while at his truck stop on Mottman Road. His license was taken away and he has not worked since.
“After a while, I told my wife I was bored. She said I wasn’t allowed to say I was bored. So I go to the doctor and he tells me I’m depressed! Well, let me tell you, I’m bored with being depressed!” he laughed. He is very proud of his 27 year old daughter who is a dancer.
Saying goodbye, having made a few new friends, Rodney O’Neill greeted people coming and going at the door. I got a big hug. Pointing Gracie out to him, I told him how wonderful she is.
“That’s what inspires me so much, is seeing the same faces every year,” he said with a smile.
Serving celery sounds simple, but it was harder than it looks, and behind that is a lot of hard work. O’Neill and a solid team of volunteers, many of them teenagers, including a young man named Ian, had been there preparing and cooking food since 8:00 a.m.
About 4:15 p.m., Rich Smith, kitchen manager, gave O’Neill a quick update on the food situation. One more uncooked turkey remained. It was decided to not cook it. Over 1500 meals had been served today.

“That’s 25 dozen deviled eggs, 140 pounds of mashed potatoes – all hand peeled and hand mashed – 200 pounds of stuffing, and 30 smoked turkeys. Safeway donates all the desserts and breads,” Smith laughed, and headed back into the kitchen.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Stop Work Order at Old Brewhouse Draws Comments, Reactions


Above: The window may be closing on resurrecting the Old Brewhouse. Photo taken of the ground floor of the Old Brewhouse Tower on October 18.

By Janine Unsoeld
www.janineslittlehollywood.blogspot.com

It was the first time he had been on site for perhaps a year when Paul Knight gave a tour of the Old Brewhouse in Tumwater for a group of citizens on October 18.
“I saw more deterioration of mortar on the bricks and rust on the beams. The window is closing on resurrecting that place,” says Knight.
 

Citizen complaints about significant, unpermitted road grading, water diversion and construction activity led to the City of Tumwater's stop work order at the Old Brewhouse on October 28.
Knight met Little Hollywood today at the Mason Jar, an eatery popular with brewery employees until the Olympia Brewery Company blew its whistle for the last time in 2003. 
 
Starting out as an hourly production employee in 1961, Knight went through a series of promotions to eventually enjoy a long career as the Brewmaster at the modern” brewery, the Olympia Brewing Company, from 1974 to 1997.


Above: Retired Brewmaster Paul Knight leads a tour of the Old Brewhouse on October 18, 2014.

Now 80 years old and more active than ever, Knight spends his time volunteering for the Old Brewhouse Foundation, Habitat for Humanity, the Olympia Flight Museum, restoring old cars, and woodworking.

“It’s a grand old building,” he said as he helped provide captions for pictures taken of the Old Brewhouse on the October 18 tour.
 
The importance of the structure was recognized in 1978 when the property was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 2004, it was listed as one of "Washington State's Ten Most Endangered Historic Properties" by the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation.

Stop Work Order Comments, Reactions

Above: Unpermitted construction with old and new pipes at the base of the hillside near the Old Brewhouse on October 8, 2014.
 
The current Old Brewhouse owner, George Heidgerken, Falls Development LLC, has violated environmental regulations in the past.

According to a 1993 Seattle Times article, a U.S. District Court, Tacoma sentenced Heidgerken to five months' imprisonment and ordered him to pay a $4,000 fine for illegally storing 260 drums of hazardous wastes. Heidgerken was also ordered to serve a four-month term of home detention when he completed his jail term.
In June of that year, he pleaded guilty to storing the drums in Shelton without a permit in violation of federal law. The drums contained lacquers and stain used in furniture finishing.
In another case, Heidgerken was fined $10,000 by the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for his failure to comply with a Forest Practices Act reforestation order in Grays Harbor County. That case dragged on throughout the 1990s and was settled in early 2000, when Heidgerken lost an appeal of the fine imposed by DNR in 1994. More information about that case is available at:  http://caselaw.findlaw.com/wa-court-of-appeals/1474716.html

Local reaction to the stop work order has been steady since the news was first reported by Little Hollywood on October 30.

Michael Chun of Associated Environmental Group, a local engineering firm working with Heidgerken, was shocked when he saw recent pictures of the site on the Little Hollywood blog.
 
Chun said that his firm’s involvement with the project is focused on the hazardous material cleanup of metals contamination due to the painting of barrels with leaded paint. A former paint shop was located on the site, near the hillside that contains several artesian springs.

“Barrels were scattered all over the place,” he said. As part of a voluntary cleanup agreement with the state Department of Ecology, Heidgerken hired Chun’s firm to characterize the contamination and remove the top level of soil.

“Now we need to deal with the groundwater….We’re looking for dissolved metals. At this point, we don’t know if it’s contaminated. We need to set three resource protection wells,” explained Chun. Chun said he had wanted to place the wells this past summer, but Heidgerken delayed for unknown reasons.

“The sooner we get this started, the better. I am waiting for grading to get a drill rig down there….it’s a challenging site. I’d like to get started by the end of the year.” Chun said that Ecology requires that the water be sampled four consecutive quarters for a year.

Chun, who has led several successful environmental restoration efforts in downtown Olympia, said he hadn’t been at the Old Brewhouse property in quite a while. Chun reacted upon seeing the most recent Little Hollywood article about the old brewery. 

“Holy Cow!” Chun exclaimed when he saw the pictures. “ ….I can tell you right now I won’t be able to get a drill rig down there….George clearly went above and beyond what we needed,” said Chun. With a new perspective on the situation, Chun said he would visit the site in person as soon as possible.

Asked to comment on the stop work order, City of Tumwater Mayor Pete Kmet wrote a response to Little Hollywood last week. He also sent his statement to the Thurston County commissioners, the Port of Olympia commissioners, and City of Olympia and Tumwater councilmembers.

“I’ve read your blog and appreciate your interest in the environment and this iconic site. I assure you that it is my desire to have any redevelopment of this site protect the historic assets while respecting the location from an environmental and cultural perspective. We continue to work with a number of experts to try and find that balance,” wrote Kmet.

“Tumwater is committed to compliance with all the applicable environmental regulations. Mr. Heidgerken needs to comply with those regulations. We will work with the applicable resource agencies and Mr. Heidgerken to address the situation with the wetlands. Similarly, his involvement in the study of the Craft Brewing and Distilling Center doesn’t waive his requirements for environmental compliance. The Center, for that matter, is not limited to the historic site and could be located in an existing building up on the hill. Our studies will be assessing the degree to which this site can be used for the Center or other viable activities.
“As we know from the redevelopment of numerous historic properties throughout the State and the Country, finding a viable reuse is critical to generating funds to preserve them. I hope you and your readers will work with us to help make that happen before we lose this iconic landmark. I am looking forward to the next step in this process, the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, for an opportunity to identify and evaluate the issues related to redevelopment of this property in more detail,” said Kmet.
Rob Kirkwood, co-founder of the Old Brewhouse Foundation (OBF), a non-profit organized in 2008, also responded to the news:
“We can all agree that the Old Brewhouse site is a special place. The Old Brewhouse Foundation (OBF) recognizes that the Old Brewhouse site is where people have gathered for thousands of years to rest, celebrate, work and trade.  In addition, the site is geologically unique and also attracts a huge variety of wildlife.  The OBF mission is to gather all the stakeholders in the area and help create a facility that is sensitive to the site’s previous, current and future inhabitants. The site has many challenges and many interested parties that all have their own idea as to what the site’s future should look like. Your story highlights some of the challenges that will need to be addressed and recognizing all people’s interest will be an important part of the process….” said Kirkwood. Kirkwood also said that he assumed all the proper permits were in place for the work being done on site.

Kirkwood, along with Tumwater City Councilmember Tom Oliva, toured the Old Brewhouse site on October 18 with several citizens. Kirkwood, along with Oliva founded the organization in 2008 to “motivate the community in developing the Old Brewhouse for a public purpose.”

The Old Brewhouse Foundation has chosen not to take a formal position on Heidgerken's plans nor did the organization comment on the city's determination of significance and scope of the environmental impact statement for the area.

Above: Looking through a cavity from the third floor to the second floor of the Old Brewhouse Tower on October 18, 2014. The cavity is where a mash tub once operated and hung down towards the second floor. The Deschutes River can be seen out the window frame.

Market Study Results
According to Tumwater city council meeting minutes for October 14, a market study on the brewery properties north of Custer Way was recently completed to explore potential types of uses and marketability of the site.

Richard Gollis and Adam Seidman of The Concord Group summarized the market study results for the council. The team identified the potential for a wide array of land uses at the site, taking advantage of existing structures as well as building new ones.
 
The group says there is approximately 400,000 to 500,000 square feet of supportable development over a 10-year period. A phased in, mixed use approach could be developed along Custer Way as an early catalyst, as well as working through the concept of the craft brewery and distilling center.

The group said that of the three proposed land use alternatives identified by the city, the third alternative, the full mixed use redevelopment alternative, would maximize the area's potential. A mixed use project off Custer Way, including the Cellars Building at 240 Custer Way, and the historic brewhouse, could serve to bring people to the area.

The analysis considered different land uses at the site, such as an apartment building, condominiums, hotel, retail, office, and special destination uses, such as the craft brewery and distilling center.

Limiting development to renovation of the historic structure was not recommended because of the amount of infrastructure development required for the site.

The consultants said that the reason people would come to the area is to enjoy retail and hospitality, and would want to live here because it is near historic structures and the Deschutes River. Educational institutions would be an important component of the property’s future success.

City Administrator John Doan commented on the importance of the craft brewery and distilling center or another special destination use to help accelerate the development timeline.

Above: The five story RST Cellars building at 240 Custer Way in Tumwater is not historic. It is part of the “modern” brewery complex and built in three sections in 1966, 1967 and 1970. New cellars were built as needed to store beer. The building is currently owned by George Heidgerken, Falls Development LLC.
 
In previous conversations, Heidgerken has said he anticipated starting his redevelopment work on the RST Cellars building on Custer Way.
 
For more information about the Old Brewhouse Foundation, go to www.oldbrewhouse.org 
 
For past stories about the Old Brewhouse, go to www.janineslittlehollywood.blogspot.com and use the search engine to type in key words.
 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Tumwater Issues Stop Work Order on Development at Old Brewhouse


Above: Construction equipment and maintenance debris seen around the Old Brewhouse building in Tumwater on October 8 and October 18 indicated a dramatic difference in recent road construction and water diversion efforts. Multiple areas with black tubing were seen in place, diverting water which was streaming from a nearby hillside. The hillside contains at least nine artesian springs.

By Janine Unsoeld
www.janineslittlehollywood.blogspot.com

The City of Tumwater has issued a stop work order to Old Brewhouse developer George Heidgerken and Falls Development, LLC.
In a voicemail yesterday, Chris Carlson, permit manager for the City of Tumwater, said, “We have issued a stop work order to the property owner down there, and he’s basically graded without a permit, and he has also filled a portion of a Category 3 wetland, a slope wetland, on the south side of the access road…the site is under stop work.

“We have contacted Alex Callender, over at the shoreline section of the Department of Ecology, letting him know where we’re at with this. The lead official right now is in the process of actually issuing the notice of violation….”
 
Carlson also said that the city will be setting up a meeting with both Ecology and the Army Corps of Engineers in the next couple of days to discuss what each agency’s course of action will be.

“We’re working on a solution to try and get the project in compliance,” he said.

Above: Excavation, road grading, and drain pipes as seen on the south side of the Old Brewhouse building on October 18, 2014.


Stop Work Order Details

City of Tumwater building official John Darnell visited the site this week after receiving a complaint that grading and filling work was being conducted on the south side of the building. Darnell confirmed that this work was being done without permits required under several Tumwater city codes including grading, wetland protection standards, and fish and wildlife habitat protection.

The stop work order, dated October 28, also requires that a Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) be in place.

“With the exception of immediate erosion control measures, the Stop Work Order will remain in place until all plans, mitigations and approvals have been completed....You are required to submit a SWPPP plan designed and stamped by a licensed professional engineer to mitigate the potential erosion and stabilize the disturbed area....You also need to prepare a report/plan prepared by a licensed wetland biologist and civil engineer showing how the wetland and habitat area will be mitigated. Once we have the report and plan we will schedule a meeting with you and the agencies involved to determine if the mitigation is acceptable....” said Darnell. 

Citizen Complaints

The City of Tumwater is in the process of preparing an environmental impact statement (EIS) for the proposed redevelopment of an area that includes the Old Brewhouse.
The city determined that this redevelopment is likely to have a significant adverse impact on the environment. Three land use scenarios for the site was identified by the city and the public comment for these scenarios was due to Tim Smith on October 20.
As a private citizen, this reporter requested a stop work order at the Old Brewhouse site after she witnessed, on two occasions, extensive construction being done at the site.

She was taken on two tours of the property, one led by Tim Smith, planning manager at the City of Tumwater on October 8, and one led by the Old Brewhouse Foundation on October 18. On both tours, it was apparent that significant road construction and water diversion work was being done at the site. Other citizens were also on both tours.

The letter dated October 20 by Janine Unsoeld was written and submitted in a timely manner as a public comment and says, in part:
“I request that the public comment deadline for TUM-14-0741 be extended to allow the public more time to research the three land use alternatives. I request a stop-work order on all activities on the property until these roles, and all environmental considerations under WAC 197-11-444 are better understood by all concerned parties.”

City of Tumwater Response

On October 22, Smith sent Unsoeld an email, saying, in part:
“City staff will continue to work with the landowner regarding ongoing maintenance work onsite. Any site work that requires a permit will be enforced by staff.”

On October 23, Little Hollywood emailed several staff members in charge of wetland and shoreline permits at the state Department of Ecology, including Callender, and the state department of Fish and Wildlife expressing concerns.
Little Hollywood also sent them a particularly disturbing picture and described the scene:

“…Water is flowing directly from the hillside (I've been told there are nine artesian springs there) into the moat, and going under the building and presumably, going somewhere, most likely the nearby wetlands and into the Deschutes River. The old metal pipes are being dug up at the base of the hillside, which I saw in place, in disarray. The big black tubes are replacements, it appears. There are new trenches and a road being built.
“….Can you clarify for me the role of when Ecology and Fish and Wildlife may get involved, and wetland and shoreline issues will be monitored with regard to this property? I am concerned about possible conflicts of interest at the City of Tumwater….”

Above: Another view of the excavation, road grading, and drain pipes as seen on the south side of the Old Brewhouse building on October 18, 2014.
 
Falls Development Response to Stop Work Order
 
Jon  Potter, Old Brewhouse project manager for Falls Development, LLC, was reached late this afternoon by telephone and asked about the stop work order.
“It shouldn’t have happened…it wasn’t intentional…it was ignorance. We dropped the ball on two things: the wetland, and not keeping people apprised of what was going on….” said Potter.
According to Potter, a paint shop used to exist next to the old keg house between the existing road and the building. When Heidgerken bought the property, he could have gone after Miller Brewing Company to clean it up, but since they were in negotiations with Miller to lift the brewing deed restriction, Heidgerken decided to pick his battles and do the environmental clean-up himself.
The deed restriction was lifted, and under a voluntary cleanup agreement with the state Department of Ecology, Falls Development excavated the area and handled dumpage fees for the contaminated soil. Potter said this cost developer George Heidgerken about $70,000. The excavation created a large hole where groundwater monitoring wells are expected to be placed. Since the hole was so big, it was necessary to bring in rock so that the monitoring wells could be placed.
“….As part of that effort, drainage pipes were draining into that hole. George went back in and removed pipes on the other side….What should have happened, and didn’t happen on our part, is say, ‘Listen, this backfilling is bigger than anticipated.’ He didn’t go through the proper channels to remove the pipes….I’m angry with, but sympathetic with George that he tried to take the pipes out, but not in the right way. He felt like he was doing the right thing….”
Potter said AEG Engineering in Olympia is their consultant who developed their remediation plan and said they didn’t need a grading permit.
“It’s got to be done the right way and I am furious to put city staff in the position they are in….This is truly a public-private partnership and for us to screw up like that was not good. I can’t say it any other way….” said Potter.
Potter said that their staff and the city’s staff will look at the issue to come up with a proposal regarding the wetland encroachment, which will determine the project’s future schedule.
“When it’s all said and done, it’ll be spectacular….” said Potter.
 
Above: Old Brewhouse Tower reflected in a puddle on October 18, 2014.
 
For more information, go to Little Hollywood at www.janineslittlehollywood.blogspot.com, and see articles dated October 12, “Tumwater Seeks Public Comment on Old Brewery Proposed Development,” and October 16,“Developer Heidgerken Shares Old Brewery Vision.”
 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Interfaith Emergency Shelter Set To Open November 1


Above: Meg Martin works in the new office of the Interfaith Emergency Overnight Shelter this past weekend. New beds are stacked in the foreground.

By Janine Unsoeld
www.janineslittlehollywood.blogspot.com

The Interfaith Works Emergency Shelter is set to open November 1 at First Christian Church in downtown Olympia with space and beds for 30 men and women.

City of Olympia Hearing Examiner Mark Scheibmeir presided at a public hearing held Monday night to decide on a conditional use permit proposal to use the church’s basement to expand the shelter capacity from 30 beds to 42 beds.
The basement had previously been used by the Family Support Center, which recently moved to the Smith Building, located on Olympia’s eastside. The current permit expires in January of 2015. The church had also been the location for Camp Quixote, the temporary homeless camp, that has since moved to Quixote Village.
City planner Steve Friddle represented the city and provided the staff report recommending that the shelter be permitted for 42 beds. Hearing Examiner Scheibmeir stated at the outset that he did a site visit, walked through the property and neighborhood, and disagreed with the city's interpretation of the code.
Friddle admitted that the Olympia municipal code regarding group homes, residential and commercial standards and uses was confusing, and that the city recommended the 42 bed shelter based on state fire and building codes.
Scheibmeir said that it's not his job to defend the city's land use policies, but he calculated the capacity of the space to allow 37 beds, and he did not make that calculation lightly, knowing its draconian ramifications.”
The hearing examiner took Danny Kadden, executive director of Interfaith Works, and Meg Martin, Interfaith Shelter Program Manager, to task for not documenting the specifics of how the facility would be used. Both provided new information and details about the facility that had not previously been provided to the hearing examiner.
I don't care about rules about pets, or where people store their belongings...but the hours of operation and the way a facility is used, and a number of other aspects of the plan are essential...Those are critical for me to know....What I would like is for the applicant to examine their plan relevant to the basic issues...and develop a clear understanding...of what will be expected.”
Several people offered testimony in support and against the permit.
Brenda Hatcher of First Christian Church spoke in support of the group's permit, saying it was a unanimous decision by the congregation to host the shelter, saying it feels strongly that human beings deserve a place to be. Speaking in support of Interfaith Works, she said the organization has a good record of doing what they promise.
They've been partners with us for years and have an ongoing reputation for being compassionate...and provide for people,” she said.
Don Sloma, Thurston County's director of public health services, also spoke in support of the shelter's application, as did Theresa Slusher, the county's homeless services coordinator. 
In 2013, the shelter received a conditional award of $400,000 by a multi-jurisdictional housing consortium based on Interfaith Works’ ability to work with the City of Olympia and local advocates to identify an acceptable site for the project and obtain required permits.
Theresa Sparber, a 63 year old who is homeless, also spoke in support of the shelter. She said she has a history of strokes, COPD, and heart attacks, and that maneuvering at night on slick streets has caused her to have multiple falls.
I can't wait for the shelter to open, to rejuvenate my body, to get rest. Believe me, by 5 o'clock, we're ready to hit the sack. A friend of mine is 73 and she's in different bushes. There's so many of us displaced women who are lost out there and it's a place we never thought we'd be. (The shelter) is a great effort on everyone's part - it gives us hope,” said Sparber. 
Jim Haley, President and CEO of Thurston First Bank spoke against the permit. He said the bank relocated to 600 Franklin Street, one block away from the proposed shelter as part of an effort to revitalize downtown. Citing multiple concerns, Haley said he didn't see anything about the shelter that benefits the neighborhood. He said he wasn't against the homeless, but it's business that creates tax revenue so we can better help the homeless.”

 
The hearing lasted about two hours, and Scheibmeir held the record open until the end of the week for additional information to be submitted by the applicants and others who wish to submit materials. He said he hoped to make a decision within 10 days from the following Monday.
I envision approving this (permit) but I'm not sure in what fashion....Two groups deserve certainty: the population who would benefit from its use, and those affected, such as businesses and residents...neither trumps the other, both deserve to be recognized....” said Scheibmeir.
Shelter Gets Ready To Open
The task of locating a shelter formerly known as The People’s House has proved difficult in terms of finding a suitable location. 
Staff and volunteers were working hard this past weekend to get the space at First Christian Church ready.

Meg Martin, Interfaith Works Emergency Shelter program director, took time to explain the goals for the space.
Changing the emphasis to housing a pre-screened clientele will aim to the serve the most vulnerable adult homeless individuals over the age of 24 who are not generally violent offenders,” said Martin. 
Although a daytime warming and activity shelter is badly needed in the community, this shelter will not serve that purpose.

Using a lengthy questionnaire, street outreach workers assessed the needs and vulnerability of over 135 people in the last month. To fill the shelter beds, staff will attempt to locate 30 of those people who received the highest score in terms of vulnerability, and prioritize the beds for those who need it most.
“With the (previous) first-come, first-served model, we would have filled up immediately. Women and those with severe mental illness wouldn’t have gotten in,” she said about the new intake strategy.

Martin explained that each person will have a bed designated for them unless they miss three consecutive evenings without telling staff a reason for their absence. Lockers will be available for their belongings, and pets are allowed in kennels next to their person. Martin says this has been allowed in the past with no problems.
“We never want to have an empty bed...This effort has a much broader vision for placing people in permanent supportive housing. If we can expand, we’ll save a huge amount of community resources,” Martin said. Members of the homeless population tend to have more contact with police, and have a higher use of emergency room services than the general population.

Check in time at the shelter starts at 5:00 p.m. for women, and 7:00 p.m. for men. Everyone needs to be checked in by 9:00 p.m. and leave in the morning by 7 a.m. Guests will need to sign a personal conduct agreement and “good neighbor” policy form. If a guest’s behavior prevents their fulfilling the shelter agreements, they will be directed by staff to leave.
According to the proposal submitted to the city in September, the shelter will not house Level 2 and 3 sex offenders. While staff will not automatically conduct criminal background checks, staff reserve the right to do so at any time on any guest staying at the shelter. The shelter will serve all genders and couples. The space is already sub-divided in a way that allows separate sleeping areas and bathroom access.

Two professional, trained staff will be on site at all times. Shelter staff will be supported by three or four trained volunteers during a portion of the evening hours.
In addition, SideWalk, a homeless advocacy program, will work with guests on rapid-rehousing advocacy, and Behavioral Health Resources staff will be available for mental health support.

Full meals will not be provided, as those services are available at the Union Gospel Mission and Salvation Army.
“We’re open to more partnerships – some are in the works, and some we’re still figuring out,” said Martin, who also said that more volunteers are needed. 

It was that lack of clarity that concerned city Hearing Examiner Scheibmeir at Monday night's hearing.

Shelter Capacity Projections and Community Needs

Currently, the proposed 42 shelter beds at First Christian Church will be split - 22 for men and 20 for women. In addition, Sacred Heart Church in Lacey and St. Michael’s Church on Olympia’s eastside will operate a 12 bed shelter for men, as they have in previous years. This year, they will shelter the next 12 men on the Interfaith shelter’s screened list.

In her testimony, Theresa Slusher calculated a net gain of 10 beds for both men and women combined but it is also worth noting that the women are taking a net loss.

The shelter beds for women in the community are limited to Salvation Army and the Interfaith Shelter.

Bread and Roses, a non-profit inspired by the Catholic Worker movement and dedicated to serving the homeless, recently announced that they will no longer shelter homeless women.
 
 
For more information about the Interfaith Works Emergency Shelter, contact Meg Martin at meg@iwshelter.org or www.iwshelter.org.

For more information about Interfaith Works, go to www.Interfaith-Works.org.
Above: Fresh beds at First Christian Church wait to be placed in rooms for men and women.