The importance of protecting historic treasures
The Cheney Foundation intends to install a high-density, gated residential development that deviates significantly from our current zoning regulations of the Haub parcel. Three other separate potential buyers have notified the Haub family of their interest in purchasing the property and preserving the Heron Triangle as a park.
Currently, this property is lush with trees and thriving with life. It contains a unique ecosystem that has been here for generations. But we conveniently overlook or understate the important role these ecosystems play in our lives. We all know that trees give us oxygen — although sometimes I think we actually forget this simple but vital fact. Our air in the harbor is cleaner because of this thick concentration of trees, which are continuously absorbing pollution and odors. The property also filters stormwater runoff and prevents pollutants from draining into our bay. It is home to hundreds of species of wildlife and a comfortable nesting ground for visiting herons and other birds.
However, last week’s guest columnist in Gig Harbor Life labeled this land “vacant” and stated: “As it is now, it benefits few.” Well, the way I see it, as it is now, it clearly benefits many — every resident, every visitor, local wildlife, the bay, Puget Sound, and our entire downtown. Who exactly will benefit from turning it into a housing development?
Trees buffer noise, adding to the priceless sense of peace and tranquility that we still feel in downtown Gig Harbor. You know what definitely does not absorb noise and odors or filter air and stormwater runoff? Buildings with concrete foundations, parking lots and multiple vehicles.
Consider the impression that visitors have when they drive down Soundview Drive and are greeted by this wonderful urban forest. What message are we sending if they are instead greeted by yet another, predictable gated community like you find everywhere else? We are fortunate to have this rare treasure available in our downtown and it should be regarded with the same respect and concern for preservation that we bring to our waterfront parks and other historic landmarks. We are disturbingly close to losing this irreplaceable jewel forever. Let us preserve this small remnant of the past and boast to future generations that we valued our natural environment as much as we understood the need to grow.
Lynn Stevenson, Gig Harbor
Rep. Young was unfairly attacked
Rabbi Sarah Newmark should be ashamed of herself for her Feb. 16 politically motivated Letter to the Editor attacking state Rep. Jesse Young. For a rabbi to extrapolate unsubstantiated accusation into a guilty verdict without giving the accused an opportunity to respond or defend himself is unconscionable, especially coming from a person of faith. I can only conclude that her letter is nothing more than a political hit piece prepared by the opposition and signed by Rabbi Newmark to paint Young in the worst possible light before he has an opportunity (by bringing legal action against the House of Representatives) to force the House to provide him with due process before they hang him out to dry.
Unless Rabbi Newmark has some inside information which has not been released yet, I would expect her to defend the right of every American to be innocent until proven guilty. I did not see anything in any of the press releases that specifically required Representative Young to complete courses in “anger management,” “management training program” and “respectful workforce training,” so how would you know about these details that have not been released to the public yet? I understand they are still looking for the person or persons who leaked this story to the press.
Randy Boss, Gig Harbor
Don’t let development agreements change downtown
We have the Cheneys to thank for exposing a little known ordinance in our city code — never before used in the downtown area.
Development agreements give city councils the singular autocratic authority to disregard our zoning codes. Seven individuals (on the City Council) can decide how big, how tall, and how dense development can be. That’s a lot of authority in very few hands.
The Cheneys have spent an enormous amount of time and money to create a beautiful urban design in their One Harbor Point Project. The problem is it doesn’t fit, and their proposal is in direct conflict with the town’s 2013 Harbor Vision. Further, it sparks a dangerous precedent that will destabilize the future scale and character for all of downtown Gig Harbor.
The Katke Amendment offered a way to limit the development agreement code but was rejected. It doesn’t matter if 25 other cities say development agreements are legal — that’s not the point.
The issue is that a majority of our community doesn’t want the City Council using development agreements to change the downtown.
If our zoning codes are too inflexible, fix them. If the city wants the Boat Barn, buy it. If the Council doesn’t believe we represent a majority, ask for a city-wide vote.
Lita Dawn Stanton, Gig Harbor