Sunday, April 23, 2017

Fishburn Enters Race for Olympia Port Commissioner


Above: Bill Fishburn is running for Port of Olympia Commissioner, District 2, to unseat incumbent Bill McGregor. Fishburn, 47, of Rainier, is a project management consultant and active community member with the Hispanic Roundtable of South Sound and other nonprofit organizations. He made his announcement in front of a group active with port issues on Sunday night in downtown Olympia.

By Janine Gates
Little Hollywood

Bill Fishburn, 47, of Rainier, has formally announced that he is challenging Port of Olympia Commissioner Bill McGregor for his District 2 seat.  

He made the announcement in front of a group of community members active with port issues at a meeting on Sunday night in downtown OlympiaAbout 35 people were in attendance.

According to the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission, McGregor has raised $24,600 to date for his reelection campaign.The filing deadline for the position is May 19.

For Fishburn, the decision to run wasn’t rocket science, but luckily, he is a rocket scientist, having received his bachelor of science in aeronautics and astronautics engineering from the University of Washington, and his master of science in mechanical engineering from University of California, Berkeley.

Employed for 21 years with the Intel corporation in a variety of capacities, Fishburn was a senior technical program manager in DuPont until he was downsized out of his job during a recent restructure. 

While at Intel, he earned a division recognition award for creating two new processes that saved the division an estimated two million in time and resources.

Unemployed since October 2016, he recently decided to go into business for himself as a consultant.

His business, Six Pennies Consulting, now consults on project management, human resources, team development issues, executive coaching and the performance management of employees.

Appearing a little nervous in front of the group, Fishburn readily acknowledged that he has a lot to learn. He took questions for well over an hour, which turned into an educational listening and learning session about current port issues. 

He says many people don't know that the Port of Olympia serves all of Thurston County.

“I want to strengthen the idea that led the people of Thurston County to create a public port in the first place: exploring new, forward looking, pioneering ways of developing our economy for the good for the county's residents.

The Port runs four distinct businesses - not just the marine terminal, but the airport, Swantown Marina and Boatworks, and several large properties around the county. Three of these operate at a deficit. To put it another way, if you live in Thurston County, more than five million dollars of your taxes are supporting three money-losing ventures every year.

When I learned that, I realized the Port is not providing value to the community, it's taking value from the community. That appears unethical, and I want to change that....I want the Port to be fiscally responsible. I want it to be an ethical asset, he told the group.

“As I look at the Port of Olympia, a port depending on fossil fuels as a revenue source, a port clinging to an industry of years gone by...I know there are new ways to responsibly use our tax dollars, new ways to drive a 21st century economy, and new ways to better reflect our values,” he said.

When asked, he said that it was time for the port to recognize that the Port's decisions have impacts far beyond our county borders, and he would revisit controversial cargo and business contracts, such as the port's acceptance of ceramic proppants.

Bev Bassett, an articulate, active watcher of port activities for the past three years, says she is supporting Fishburn and will be volunteering for his campaign as a field organizer.

“The better I know Bill, the more enthusiastic I am about him. He demonstrates a fast learning curve and his values shine through. He talks about fiscal responsibility, integrity, and environmental stewardship, as if they are rooted in his world view. That's refreshing. His high level science and project management skills make him a perfect fit for reshaping the Port of Olympia in ways that will take us into the future of global warming so that our basic needs can better be met by our shared community resource — the 1,650 publicly owned acres that are the Port of Olympia,” said Bassett. 

Port Commissioner E.J. Zita, who is running for re-election to her seat, was in the audience, and said she has endorsed Fishburn.  

“I'm getting to know him and I think he's a great guy. I think he'd be a great colleague. He's clearly responsive to the needs of the port and the people, and he values fiducial responsibility and accountability. He values transparency and openness, he's listening to the people, he values economic stewardship and he's a smart businessman. He knows that we have to look at both the costs and the benefits square in the face in order to make ends meet, and we have a responsibility to the people to do better, said Zita, after the meeting.

Above: Bruce Fortune, left, shares some of his questions and concerns with Port of Olympia candidate Bill Fishburn on Sunday night in downtown Olympia.

Little Hollywood Interview

Little Hollywood tagged along with Fishburn for a portion of his busy Saturday, starting at the Olympia Timberland Library down to the Olympia Farmer's Market, asking him questions about his life, why he is running for the position, and his thoughts about a variety of port and community concerns.

Fishburn came straight from the March for Science rally at the state Capitol Building to speak to participants of a writing workshop conducted by Kathleen Alcala at the Olympia Timberland Library. 

Fishburn is president of the Hispanic Roundtable of South Sound, and the event was cosponsored by the organization. He began representing Intel as a member of the Roundtable in 2008, providing support for the group’s annual Latinx Youth Summit. 

The summit rotates throughout the five counties at regional two and four year colleges. 

Partnering with about 15 federal, state, and local entities, including nonprofits, business, and government, school districts, and the regional Timberland Regional Library, the summit held late November at The Evergreen State College gathered 496 students, the most ever in its 14 year history.

The Hispanic Roundtable of South Sound is also involved with civil and immigration rights, educating the Latinx community about what they can expect from law enforcement and other officials.

Fishburn is also a board member of the Girl Scouts of Western Washington.

He is married to his wife of 26 years, and has two biological sons and an adopted nephew, all in their 20s. He lived in Lacey from 1996 to 2003, and has lived in Rainier since 2003.

Little Hollywood: Why and how did you come to the decision to run for port commissioner?

Fishburn: One of the things that attracted me to running for port commissioner was that I live in rural Thurston County and pay my taxes, but I didn’t know, like many of my neighbors, that our taxes are going to pay for this port.

I’m a Bernie-crat. I was getting frustrated with our national candidates during the presidential election process, and the state’s superdelegate and primary process. Then, after Trump won the election, I couldn’t sleep for two weeks. During that time, I just kept getting more and more vocal and started looking for a progressive group that I could get involved with. I found the Thurston County Progressives and members of that group encouraged me to run for port commissioner.

Asked about the port’s involvement with its continued acceptance of ceramic proppants and other controversial cargo, Fishburn questioned the Port’s stance that the Federal Shipping Law of 1984 determines the port's acceptance of any and all cargo.

Fishburn: The thing that’s interesting to me about the port that I’ve heard is that cargos are amoral, and I don’t know if I agree with that.

I think that every business decision has some sort of base in morality, whether that’s a religious basis or a secular basis, and we have to look at more than just how many dollars something is going to produce. We have to look at whether it’s the right decision for our community and the values of our community. Those values define what morality means for our community.

Based on my research, it seems pretty obvious to me that the community is being ignored on specific cargos such as fracking proppants and military cargo. These seem to me to be cargo the community clearly does not want transported through their yards and neighborhoods but they are being ignored. I just have to ask myself, why is that?

LH: Do you agree with this stance, that the port must accept ceramic proppants and any other cargo?

Fishburn: There’s a lot of room for interpretation in that ‘safe and legal’ language.

LH: So what should the port be doing? 

Fishburn: Do I have an alternative cargo? No, but we can find alternative sources of income. The port seems to be holding onto a lot of 20th century cargo concepts and opportunities. We could be looking at alternative energy products. 

In Washington State, ports are pretty powerful entities and if we want to start looking forward to 21st century energy concepts or job opportunities, we have to look at clean energy.

I think a huge opportunity that the port is missing out on right now is solar electric farms. They’ve got the land to do it, it sounds like. There’s open space at the airport that could be leveraged, and there could be some discussion with the FAA on how that interferes or follows under guidelines and rules.

LH: Is your background at Intel helpful for finding these alternatives?

Fishburn: One thing project management skills have brought me, and you learn this early on in becoming a project management professional, is that in order to have a successful project together, you have to bring all the stakeholders into your project and have a discussion about how your project is going to proceed, what those deliverables are, and how those deliverables will be executed and delivered.

When you do that, you get this broad perspective of opinions, views and expertise. If you don’t bring all those views to bear, you end up with a project that can very easily fail. At Intel, we didn’t like our projects to fail.

LH: Longshoremen and their families rely on port business and are in regular attendance at port meetings. They, in particular, will want to know whether or not you support the marine terminal.

Fishburn: I support job creation and concepts that look to a vibrant economic future for Thurston County. If the marine terminal meets those criteria, then I’m in support of it.

I’m a third generation union family. I was told my grandpa started a steelworker local in Spokane. He used to work for Kaiser Aluminum and a magnesium plant. My uncle was an executive for years with the Brotherhood of Railway and Airline Clerks (in Spokane), and Dad worked for 28 years as a member of the IBEW as an electrician for Burlington Northern.

So, it’s a tough position. The Longshoremen have a strong union and have done a great job at creating livable wages for themselves, but if you read the Port’s current mission, it’s all about making money, and from what I’ve seen on the finance side of the marine terminal, it doesn’t look like it's making money. Three out of four port businesses are losing money.

LH: Last November's citizen rail blockade of a train that carried ceramic proppants from the port put the tenuous relationship between the city and the port on full display. The relationship appears to be quite dysfunctional, and the Port and the city seem to work in separate bubbles. 

The community is very interested in sea level rise issues, and now the City of Olympia, Port of Olympia, and the LOTT Clean Water Alliance will be collaborating on roles and plans. 

How do you think the Port should work with the City of Olympia?

Fishburn: I attended one port meeting, and I was so surprised by the language used at the meeting. It was so exclusionary! I heard language like ‘the port makes its own decisions,’ and I thought, wow, this is an entity whose front door is Olympia, and this is how they talk? I live in a rural area and if I had that kind of attitude about my neighbor across the street, we wouldn’t get anything done.

If you can’t build a coalition, you are going to have a short lived project, whether it’s for sea level rise, or any other project. It’s going to be late, over cost, or out of scope.

LH: Do you believe in climate change and the impacts of sea level rise?

Fishburn: I absolutely believe in climate change. Deniers deny science. Our lives revolve around science.

Asked about the role of the port’s executive director, Fishburn says the lack of transparency about how decisions are being made bothers him.

Fishburn: I’ve never met the executive director, but the way that I believe that these entities should relate, based on my nonprofit experience, is that you have a board of directors - the commissioners, in this case - and you have an executive director and staff. The executive director is beholden to the commissioners, not the other way around. He’s their employee. Sometimes, by the nuances I’m picking up, the commissioners are reporting to the director, and that seems backward.

LH: The port recently changed its policy of not transcribing citizen comments into the meeting minutes. Now just the person’s name is listed, with no context of what they said. Commissioner McGregor says that anyone who wants to know what was said can just go to the video. Are you interested in revisiting the issue of how meeting minutes are transcribed?

Fishburn: To have access to information 100 percent of the time, you have to have access to technology, and not everyone does, and not everyone learns the same way. If we truly want to be an inclusive community, we’d make those minutes available in a variety of ways to as many people as possible. I know someone who has a hard time hearing. She’s 90 years old. She’s supposed to watch a video or come to meetings? That’s excluding her from the conversation.

LH: On to a couple of other random port issues, how would you have voted regarding the recent fuel dock expenditure and construction? The fuel dock was approved by two out of three commissioners knowing it would lose one million dollars over the life of the fuel dock and cost over three million in permits and studies.

Fishburn: It could have been a private enterprise that could have met the same regulations. It’s another business endeavor based on aspirational finances. Typically, fuels have very low profit margins and based on the cost, it’s going to take a long time to earn back the money on a fuel pump. I question the fiscal responsibility of that decision.

LH: The port recently entered into five year option to lease the port's property to developer Walker John and his company, Urban Olympia LLC, located on State and Cherry Street near East Bay Drive in downtown Olympia.The property is near the mouth of Moxlie Creek, a stream that begins in Watershed Park and is now buried underground, and piped to East Bay and Budd Inlet. Many favor shoreline restoration of the area and are concerned about past contamination issues at that site. What is your position on that decision? 

Fishburn: I don't agree that the only option is to allow a developer to come along and develop the property.

LH: Are you in support of removal of the Fifth Avenue dam on the Deschutes River and Budd Inlet?

Fishburn: I am. We’re not the only port at the mouth of a river in Washington State. Thurston County is at the crossroads between the Cascades and the Olympics. There’s no reason that the natural beauty of our region can’t be better utilized to bring tourism through those crossroads as a gateway to other beautiful parts of Washington State.

Above: Bill Fishburn buys a bunch of radishes from a vendor at the Olympia Farmer’s Market, which sits on port property. “I love the Farmer’s Market. If I had time, I’d have a stall for my barbeque sauce. Fishburn said his dad developed a special family barbeque recipe after going to Oklahoma for summer camp with the Marine Corps.

As operations manager of the Intel DuPont Community Garden since 2009, Fishburn oversaw the production of 8,000 to 13,000 pounds of produce per year for five years for food banks in Pierce and Thurston counties. 

He also set the strategic direction and governance for the organization involving more than 80 gardeners.

A quick stop at the Olympia Farmer’s Market led Fishburn to ask questions about the relationship between the Port and the Market. 

“I’m not seeing the connection between local food producers and their relationship to the Port. One of the concepts of creating a food hub is connecting local agricultural workers, community farmers, and food producers. Is the Market producing revenue for the port? With all the commerce going on here, we should be shipping this around the world....”

Fishburn, who is Hispanic and speaks Spanish, was asked if his experiences in Malaysia, the Philippines, India, and other countries could be an asset to the position.

“Absolutely. Working in different countries, I learned an appreciation for other cultures. In India, I learned that you can’t be told yes if you don’t ask. There, they aren’t shy about asking for something they need, so it’s like an iceberg – watch what you see on the surface, but see below that surface, and you’ll gain an appreciation for other perspectives.

LH: What do you do for fun?

Fishburn: I brew beer, I have a granddaughter who will be 4 next month, and I like to bow hunt.

LH: Tell me about bow hunting.

Fishburn: It’s a little more ethical than rifle hunting and here’s why: you are on the ground, face to face with your quarry. I’ve taken three animals with my bow, and they died every bit as fast as they would have with gunshot. The longest shot I took was with a 25 yard shot, so that, to me, is a challenge, when you are on the same footing as the animals you are hunting. That, to me, is more ethical than if you are shooting something from a quarter of a mile away, or a half mile away.

LH: What kind of beer?

Fishburn: All kinds. I love IPAs. Those are my absolute favorite. I make a great oatmeal stout. I’ve won a couple of awards with it and it’s a fun beer to make....I made it past the first round of a national homebrew competition with an Imperial IPA, which is huge, because it’s a competition with over 700 other beers, potentially, and the two biggest categories are IPA and Double IPA. I took third, I think. I should know this. I’m trying to start a brewery.

LH: So, is this in Rainier?

Fishburn: Yes, we’re in the Thurston County Agritourism Overlay District that provides zoning advantages to food producers, craft distilleries and craft breweries. The Agritourism Overlay District provides recommendations to people who want to start something like that. It’s intended for 10 acres and over. 

My property is just on five acres. If they waive me in, the idea is to put a brewery that will produce about 1,200 to 1,500 barrels of beer a year. For me, it goes back to supporting the local economy with local business.

For more information about the Port of Olympia, go to the Port of Olympia at www.portolympia.com or Little Hollywood, http://www.janineslittlehollywood.blogspot.com and type key words into the search button.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Chambers Prairie Grange Faces Demolition


Above: With his back turned to the former Chambers Prairie Grange, owner Tom Schrader says the building on the corner of Henderson Boulevard and Yelm Highway in Tumwater will be demolished. Schrader is in negotiations with Starbucks to create a new 4,000 square foot building with a drive-thru on the property. 

Owner in Negotiations with Starbucks for Property Use
Site Plans Still Uncertain

By Janine Gates
Little Hollywood
A Little Hollywood Land Use Investigation

The 107 year old former Chambers Prairie Grange on the corner of Henderson Boulevard and Yelm Highway in Tumwater will be demolished, says building owner Tom Schrader.

Schrader’s decision to raze the beloved grange has caught many off guard, including City of Tumwater planning staff and the city council’s citizen advisory planning commission.

Members of the city council and the city’s historic preservation commission have not been formally informed of Schrader's new intentions for the building.

After weeks of hearing rumors, members of the city’s citizen advisory planning commission were the first to hear about the change in plans firsthand by Schrader during a public comment period at their March 14 meeting.

Their reaction, similar to that expressed by some city staff and others already familiar with the news, was one of confusion and disappointment, particularly since Schrader had wooed them all with his vision of saving the building and converting it into a neighborhood café and bistro.

The planning commission had recommended that Schrader receive a comprehensive plan rezone for the property from single-family, low-density residential to community service, which was approved by city council last October.

The prospect of tearing down the building is unthinkable for many Thurston County historic preservationists and community members who have generations of memories of the grange being used for community meetings, weddings, dances and other gatherings.

Schrader met with several local coffee businesses in the area to ascertain their interest in the property, but was unsuccessful in getting any of them to make a commitment.

At some point, Starbucks offered Schrader a contract on the property at 1301 Yelm Highway. 

Schrader gets upset at the suggestion that he obtained the rezone to increase the property’s value and says the contract is not a done deal.

“I met with Batdorf & Bronson Coffee Roasters three times, Cutters Point Coffee twice, and everyone else at least once, so my effort has not wavered from that desire,” he told the city’s planning commission on March 14.

Schrader said he has also received offers from fast food restaurants such as Wendy’s, Taco Bell, and Chick fil-A, corporations that have all expressed an interest in the corner for years.

“I could have gone with any of those, but I said no to all of them. Starbucks is a coffee shop that has an area where people can meet, with a social community area, and that was my intent for the grange anyways, wasn’t it?” said Schrader. 

He has expressed considerable frustration with the City of Tumwater and sought clarification on what he could do with the property. Schrader's plans call for the building to be demolished, the basement to be imploded and filled in, and trees to be removed.

Misunderstandings continue between Schrader and the City of Tumwater about the grange’s physical position on the property and the regulatory setbacks needed for sidewalks, landscaping and public works needs. 

Above: Tom Schrader met with City of Tumwater staff at an epic, two hour site review planning meeting on March 2 to discuss Schrader’s plans to demolish the grange and determine what he can and cannot do on the property. Developers and their representatives present staff with preliminary plans at these meetings and staff review regulations that may affect those plans. These type of meetings usually last 45 minutes to an hour.

Schrader specifically mentioned in a previous interview with Little Hollywood that he did not want a Starbucks, a Texaco gas station, a 7-11, nor a Burger King.

“….I want something the neighborhood wants,” he said in an interview with Little Hollywood in November 2015.

Schrader is currently in negotiations with The Farm Homeowners Association to purchase property adjacent to the grange property, which he says would allow for a safer, better project. 

Since he purchased the property in 2015, Schrader has worked with neighbors and residents of The Farm to appease their concerns regarding potential traffic and noise.

When asked by Little Hollywood if the city or a private entity could purchase the building and save it, Schrader bristled and asserted that the building cannot stay where it is. 

Schrader said he doesn’t want to hear any “bleeding heart stories” about the loss of the grange.

“I'm really not feeling too bad about whatever I do with the old grange because nobody gives a damn! Where was everyone who cared when I needed them? I have over $15,000 invested in architectural plans - remodel plans already submitted to the city - a gas meter, electrical engineering, new electrical meters, and I bought new cedar roofing.

“The building is in City of Tumwater right of way and they will not let me remodel or keep the building where it currently is - if I move the building, I will lose the basement, and the building won't survive the move,” Schrader said angrily.

“I've had building movers and general contractors do inspections on the structure, and they will not guarantee the building would survive a move. In fact, they wouldn't touch it unless I signed a waiver saying if the building imploded or fell over, I wouldn't file a claim against them.”

Although the outside looks intact, Schrader has a carpenter inside the former grange, salvaging part of the floor, which he says is not the original fir flooring. A maple floor was put over the old fir floor, maybe in the 1960-70's.

Schrader says he is keeping a lot of the old grange materials and is working with Starbucks on a possible design.

During a March tour of the grange, Schrader said that the new building will look like a grange, and wants it to be positioned lengthwise along Yelm Highway, using the grange’s exterior wood paneling.

Inside, several new water leaks were seen dripping from roof to floor.

Schrader, who says he doesn’t like to visit the property anymore, or even call it the grange because the situation is so depressing, rushed to find containers to catch the drips.

Schrader asked Little Hollywood to not take any interior photos.

Above: On what was a forested lot last yearthe new Starbucks and its drive-thru located on Cooper Point Road in Olympia is now surrounded by impervious surface. This Starbucks design is similar in size of what could be accommodated on Schrader’s property in Tumwater. Schrader has presented several architectural designs to Tumwater city staff and the parties have wrangled over setbacks and access to the site. 

Property Use Disputes

According to Schrader, the City of Tumwater is making him move the building in 10 to 20 years, because it is three to eight feet within the city's right of way.

The city has future intentions of adding another left turn at the intersection of Henderson and Yelm Highway.

“The city won't give me a break on reducing the setbacks. Any new building will be at least 20 feet from the sidewalk, which puts the building in the middle of the lot, so you don't have room for parking and the storm pond,” said Schrader.

The city says, yes, the building is in its right of way, but they were making regulatory exceptions, and working with Schrader to allow the building to stay in its current location.

When Schrader took city staff off guard by unexpectedly presenting them with preliminary plans to demolish the grange and replace it with a new 4,000 square foot building and parking lot, the project became a typical new development that must adhere to current setback and other development regulations.

The proposed Starbucks will have a drive-thru, which was just one major sticking point at a March 2 meeting between Schrader and the City of Tumwater development review committee.

Several city staff members met with Schrader for a two hour meeting to examine Schrader’s latest architectural drawings and design requests. 

Staff’s confusion on how Schrader got from Point A, saving the grange, to Point B, demolishing the grange, was palatable, with at least one staff member blatantly saying that he wanted the grange to be saved.

Schrader says a drive-thru is a mandatory feature for Starbucks and says the corporation is willing to wait for as long as it takes to get through the land use and design process.

“I need the city to help me design a project that’s good for Tumwater,” said Schrader.

City of Tumwater Perspective

The City of Tumwater has a different perspective on the whole matter but believes Schrader was sincere in his desire to save the building during the comprehensive plan and rezone request process last year.

“Tumwater has always been and continues to be supportive of retaining the grange building if possible. That being said, there is no city requirement prohibiting demolition of the building. That is a decision for the property owner,” said Michael Matlock, community development director for the City of Tumwater, in an email to Little Hollywood last month.

“….Retaining the grange building was much discussed during the comprehensive plan and rezone request process and I believe all parties have a strong interest and desire to see that happen. 

“The city did not require him to demolish it. A portion of the structure is in the city right of way. Initially, we told Tom he would need to remove that portion from the right of way. We negotiated that point and subsequently allowed that portion to stay in the right of way. Tom told me that he had some further structural analysis done and it was just not possible to retain the building,” said Matlock.

Asked about the drive-thru element, Matlock says a drive-thru is allowed under the current zoning, but would be subject to stringent design guidelines regarding placement and screening. It will not be allowed between the building and the sidewalk.

“This is a challenging site to develop because of its size and location. While we have had many discussions with Tom, we have not yet begun the site plan review process to work through these issues,” said Matlock.

City staff say that the new Starbucks, which includes a drive-thru, on Cooper Point Road near Haggen’s grocery store is very similar in size to the preliminary plans they have discussed with Schrader.

Grange Building History

Located on the former Route #2 in Thurston County, the Chambers Prairie Grange No. 191 was built in 1910 on land donated by the Wickie Family. 

The grange served as a vital community center for the area's farmers and their agricultural, social, educational and political activities. 

The wooden, one-story, 5,668 square foot building sits on .91 acres and is remarkably sound, despite its age. It has been untouched by vandals and still features the original wavy glass windows. The basement still contains long wooden tables suitable for dining and entertaining.

The building is not listed on any historic register. 

It sat vacant for years, but continued to be owned by the Washington State Grange until Schrader and his wife Tiffany bought it in late 2015. 

Since then, Tom Schrader has worked to clear the grange property of blackberry brambles and brush, scraped moss off the roof, hauled away old appliances, and provided electricity and natural gas to the building.

The rezone to community service last October allowed 22 permitted uses but limited commercial development of the property.  

The area has built up around the grange.

Northwest of the grange is the Briggs YWCA and the 137-acre Briggs Village. 

Northeast of the grange was once the Briggs Nursery. It is now Briggs East Village and a 200-unit development for active senior adults called Silver Leaf.

East of the grange is the Tsuki Nursery, which is on the market, listed and represented by Schrader, a commercial real estate agent for ReMax/Parkside.

That latter property is currently in Thurston County with Olympia Urban Growth Area jurisdiction zoned residential 4 – 8.

Jay Eaton, director of public works for the City of Tumwater, said in a past interview that the Yelm Highway and Henderson Boulevard intersection is currently operating at an acceptable level of service.

“The projections out to 2040 show that, at some point, the intersection level of service will fall below desirable,” he said.

About 30,000 vehicles per day currently use the intersection.

Above: With a simplified, hand drawn sketch, Tom Schrader shows his vision for the future site of the grange property. He says he will use portions of the grange's exterior wood paneling for the outside of a new building. Pending the possible sale of an adjacent piece of property to Schrader, siting logistics and details for the new development is still uncertain. 

Editor’s NoteThis story chronicles just a small part of a local land use project's complicated journey from idea to reality. Since late 2015, Little Hollywood has published three stories about Tom Schrader's ideas for the former Chambers Prairie Grange site. 

Little Hollywood spent three months investigating the update for this story, meeting and checking in with Schrader on multiple occasions, attending meetings, and communicating with city staff. 

The story is not over, but it would appear that the possibility of saving the building's structural and spiritual integrity, is now lost.

For more photos, information and previous Little Hollywood articles about the Chambers Prairie Grange No. 191, Tom Schrader, the City of Tumwater rezone of the property, and current and projected traffic levels at the intersection, go to Little Hollywood’s stories:




Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Olympia’s Sea Level Rise Plan Begins with Port, LOTT


Above: At the southernmost tip of Puget Sound, Budd Inlet surrounds downtown Olympia. In the distance is the Washington State Capitol Building. At far right, the vacant nine story Capitol Center Building. Photo taken at high tide on March 10, 2016.

By Janine Gates
Little Hollywood

Collaborating for the first time on a sea level rise response plan, the City of Olympia authorized its city manager to sign an interlocal agreement with the Port of Olympia and the LOTT Clean Water Alliance at its regular Tuesday evening meeting.

The three entities will work together to focus on the development of a sea level rise plan and provide recommendations for capital projects, funding needs, implementation schedules, and emergency response protocols.

An engineering firm, AECOM, has been chosen to develop the project’s scope of work. AECOM has assisted other communities in sea level rise response planning, particularly in the San Francisco Bay area.

City staff will report back to council in mid to late May with a detailed scope of work and public outreach plan. Overall, the process is expected to take 18 months to develop.

How the collaboration and conversation will unfold at the Port of Olympia and LOTT Clean Water Alliance is uncertain.

Rachael Jamison, environmental program director for the Port of Olympia, was present at the meeting, but did not address the council. 

Jamison told Little Hollywood that the Port has tracked the city’s research and work on sea level rise issues and port commissioners have received sea level rise reports in the past.

“Independent of commission meetings, the Port is going to provide opportunities for the public to participate in a way which will be clear once we have a plan. We recognize that there are vulnerabilities and we have to work together,” she said.

No representatives of the LOTT Clean Water Alliance were present at the meeting Tuesday night.

The City of Olympia has acknowledged and responded to sea level rise concerns since 1990.

Since 2007, staff has provided city council and the community with annual updates on current climate change and sea level rise research.

Illustrating their information with Olympia specific inundation maps, city staff gave council the most sobering sea level rise report to date at a study session in February 2016.

According to the National Research Council, four and a half feet of sea level rise is expected worldwide by 2100.

Andy Haub, City of Olympia’s director of water resources, gave a sea level rise report to the community on February 8, 2017 at the Olympia Center.

As he has reported in the past, a one foot sea level rise means flooding would occur 30 times a year in downtown Olympia.

Two feet of sea level rise would flood downtown 160 times a year, and four feet of sea level rise would flood downtown 440 times a year, which is more than once a day.

The city set a policy in 2010 to protect downtown and that is reflected in the goals and policies of its Comprehensive Plan.

Above: Susan Clark, City of Olympia senior city planner, will act as project manager for the city’s sea level rise plan. She has a long professional history with planning and water related issues.

Susan Clark, a senior city planner with the City of Olympia since early January, is taking the lead as the city's sea level rise project manager for day to day issues. 

Andy Haub and Eric Christensen, City of Olympia's water resources planning and engineering manager, will continue to be involved and play a major role.

Interviewed by Little Hollywood on Tuesday, Clark discussed her background and her new job. A graduate of Timberline High School in Lacey, Clark now lives in Tacoma.

Clark is responsible for planning activities related to Olympia’s drinking water, stormwater, and wastewater utilities, and is working on the completion of the city’s storm and surface water utility plan.

Sea level rise is a new, additional responsibility to the position.

Clark started her professional career in 1990, helping to develop Pierce County’s Growth Management Act Comprehensive Plan. She later transferred to the Public Works Department, where she was responsible for drinking water issues, including participation in watershed planning.

After spending 15 years with Pierce County, Clark worked with Tacoma Water as their water resources planner. She also processed water rights at the state Department of Ecology and worked at the state Department of Health as a regional planner with the drinking water program.

Multiple downtown Olympia development projects by the city and the port are underway in precisely the area destined to be first impacted by sea level rise.

These vulnerable areas, built on fill, are well within the historic shoreline of Budd Inlet.

Asked about her interest in sea level rise issues, she said she has visited Annapolis, Maryland, and has studied their issues.

“They have an old downtown, right on Chesapeake Bay. Other communities have aspects of their plans that we can learn from….As a professional planner, I am very interested in the opportunity, and feel honored, to assist a community with this relatively new area of planning. Throughout my 25 plus year career, I have learned that a planner is a generalist, bringing organizational skills and a different way of thinking to the table,” said Clark.

Little Hollywood regularly writes about downtown Olympia sea level rise issues, shoreline management, and related development. For more information about the city’s reports, including the February 8, 2017 report and the February 2016 report, past high tide events, photos, and community concerns, go to Little Hollywood, http://www.janineslittlehollywood.blogspot.com, and type key words into the search button.

To stay up to date with the city’s sea level rise plans, go to www.olympiawa.gov/SeaLevelRise, or contact Susan Clark, senior city planner at sclark@ci.olympia.wa.us or (360) 753-8321.