Letters to the Editor

Mayoral race: Merritt’s influence not overstated

Re: “Election: Mayor candidate Merritt uses alternative facts” (TNT letters, 10/19).

I was very disappointed in The News Tribune when they refused to print my 500 word op-ed on Jim Merritt’s involvement and legacy with the Asarco Tacoma/Ruston Smelter Site.

In a recent letter to the editor, Point Ruston developer Loren Cohen claimed that Jim Merritt’s mention of his work on the Tacoma Smelter site was, “disrespectful to my father, Mike Cohen, who actually made Point Ruston possible.” I disagree. Jim Merritt’s leadership brought countless civic leaders, government watchdogs and neighborhood activists together to build a consensus for the future of the site that is now Point Ruston.

Merritt led and facilitated the effort to produce a vision for the once contaminates site. Input from the community and stakeholders combined with years of meetings, multilateral negotiations and a tremendous amount of education and persuasion produced a consensus that the waste could be capped and contained on site, the land put back to positive use and the waterfront opened up to the people. This process was recognized and it won awards nationally for its innovations.

Merritt later assisted local Asarco management in winning approval by the Asarco Board and Environmental Protection Agency for residential and commercial development: initially it was limited to parks and light industrial use. Without Merritt’s vision, there would be no apartments, movie theaters or restaurants there today.