Gateway: Opinion

Letters to the Editor, July 1

Olympic Town Center is recipe for worse gridlock

Envisioning traffic gridlock around Olympic Town Center is easy; we have gridlock during peak travel times at Olympic Drive/Point Fosdick now. Unless the proposed “pet-friendly, family friendly, community friendly” development has dedicated access ramps to Highway 16 you won’t be able to get there.

The Olympic Drive/Point Fosdick interchange and ramps from SR 16 would require a re-design and lengthy construction. This would create enormous traffic issues and spill over onto Wollochet Drive/Hwy 16, which is also gridlocked during peak hours.

To fully understand the challenge of executing large developments without creating large problems, one must consider the nature of Gig Harbor’s traffic infrastructure. Basically, there are no direct routes anywhere. Gig Harbor was not laid out in a grid-like pattern like other cities, which allows multiple access routes. Just plopping a large retail development on a country road because a vacant lot exists is extremely bad planning.

Another issue for Gig Harbor residents would be the inevitable closing of Fred Meyer on the North side of Highway 16. This would force downtown residents to navigate to the other side of Highway 16, where four grocery stores would then be located. This would NOT serve those citizens of Gig Harbor, nor the community.

Terry Schively

Gig Harbor

Residents need to know about benefits, costs of proposed center

The article in last week’s paper (Gateway, June 24) about the controversy swirling around the proposed Towne Center proposed development allowed me to understand how much we don’t know about this proposed mega-project. We are told there are benefits such as a bowling alley, gas station and another huge Fred Meyer shopping complex. And there can be no question — there will be much greater traffic pressure on already inadequate infrastructure. The time is now for the City Council and Planning Department to describe in detail the benefits and costs of the proposed Towne Center and the specific impacts it will have on Gig Harbor.

The Council should not under any circumstances conditionally approve this development subject to an environmental impact statement or other conditions. No, the problems with this proposal are so significant that we cannot risk putting this proposal on a fast-track approval. This is our city; it does not belong to WWR Properties; it does not belong to the City Council.

Just because the Ford dealership and apartment complex that once occupied the site decided to close and sell out, it does not create a compelling argument for WWR Properties’ project. Everyone has the right to develop their property, but not at the expense of our community and our way of life. We need a project that is wholly good for Gig Harbor, and we are willing to wait for a proper evaluation before moving ahead. It’s that simple.

Dave Mumper

Gig Harbor

Jackson has practical experience needed for school board position

There are three good candidates running for Peninsula School Board position 4. All have supported our schools in their own way, volunteering and a lot of hard work. Garth Jackson has gone beyond that by leaving a successful engineering career, getting an education degree and getting into the classroom for over a decade. He knows the challenges and opportunities from experience and study, not just press releases.

One in four of our students don’t graduate and of those who do graduate, 80 percent need to take remedial classes just to get into Tacoma Community College. Something has to change. Mr. Jackson knows that supporting schools sometimes means standing up to challenge them. There has to be at least one voice on the school board who has the practical experience, training and zeal to identify problems and opportunities. For the sake of our schools, I support Garth Jackson.

Bonnie Ellsworth

Gig Harbor

Harbaugh has skillset to keep district moving in right direction

There has been recent discussion recently about what defines someone as a qualified school board member. I support Leslie Harbaugh and feel strongly she has the skill set necessary to be an integral member in moving this district forward in a positive direction.

Attributes I believe a successful school board member should have:

• A focus on serving every child of the district. Leslie has demonstrated this in spades as she has volunteered hundreds of hours in countless different forms, wearing many hats, throughout the district.

•  Represent the entire community, be aware of and honor divergent views. I have witnessed Leslie make tremendous efforts to reach out to members of the community who have concerns about the district policies/campaigns in hopes to understand their concerns and address them.

• Responsible group member committed to productivity as a whole. In meetings I have attended, Leslie is inclusive, ensuring others are heard so that the group may move forward as one. She is motivated and task oriented in managing responsibilities.

• Demonstrate accountability and be data driven. Leslie is analytical and uses her vast knowledge of relevant data regarding the district to help demonstrate the value of proposals vs. a reliance on an emotional or politically driven approach.

We need school board members that are passionate advocates for education and the children of this district, as well as even-keeled collaborators without hidden agendas focused on serving this school district and our community, and I firmly believe Leslie Harbaugh fits the bill.

Jessica Sawyer

Gig Harbor