Gateway: News

Traffic dominates conversation around proposed town center

Jeni Woock made some videos for the Gig Harbor Hearing Examiner about life in the city. Mainly, what it’s like to sit at a stoplight on Pt. Fosdick Drive.

Woock spoke before the Hearing Examiner on Thursday afternoon in regards to a proposal for Olympic Towne Center on the former location of Fife RV which overlooks state Route 16.

Woock and others wanted to drive home the point that it’s simply hard to drive over there. And a new complex including a new, larger Fred Meyer store might just make it worse.

WWR Properties, from University Place, is proposing at 173,472-square-foot new commercial floor area that would comprise seven buildings. The new developments would include a 63,000-square-foot grocery store — Fred Meyer — and a 67,000-square-foot entertainment area that would include a bowling alley, gaming area and restaurant.

A new gas station is proposed in conjunction with the grocery store.

Applicant Douglas Steding said the vision is a “pet friendly, family friendly, community friendly” center.

Speakers in the hearing said the development might not be friendly to drivers, at least not without serious mitigation measures.

“My biggest concern can be summed up in one word: gridlock,” said citizen Bill Straw during the hearing.

Paul Cyr, a citizen and retired senior planner, said that there’s good things to come from the development. Namely, a bowling alley, which is something community members have asked for in the years since the last bowling alley in town closed.

“This does benefit the community in a number of ways,” Cyr said.

But Robert Wood, who also spoke in the public hearing, thought that any benefit of a bigger Fred Meyer would be offset by the problems caused by hollowing out the current Fred Meyer located across the highway.

The building, which is in the Olympic Village shopping center, would be left vacant by the move, he said, which could create problems.

The Citizens for the Preservation of Gig Harbor had requested that the hearing be moved to 6 p.m. last Thursday to accommodate community members that worked. The request was denied and the meeting took place at 1:30 p.m., still drawing more people than the average Hearing Examiner meeting at the Gig Harbor Civic Center.

Hearing Examiner Stephen Causseaux has taken the proposal under advisement.