10/31/2008: "LETTERS ON SJI TRANSFER STATION"
To the Editor:
When I was a reporter, savoring a good story or a scoop, we would always answer praise modestly, saying we were just doing what we were paid to do. We also knew that the paper would be used to wrap fish or be on the bottom of a parrot cage the next day, and that very few would recall the effort.
One thing I learned in covering the news decades ago is that stress reveals character. On this island, we have two organizations practicing this new and undefined form of journalism, the online publication. By comparing what you choose to print, it is indisputable that one has proven to be a shill. One practices the ethics and methods of good print and broadcast journalism dating back hundreds of years. By my conversations with citizens, that is being noticed.
You may hear me say this in a more public forum. The failure to ask these three questions, Is it true? Is it legal? Is it just? leads to blunders, waste, and sometimes tragedy. ..all easily preventable....but that may be one definition of tragedy.
Those questions, drilled into every reporter's head by teachers, editors, and publishers to prevent libel and the loss of the news organ, are also the founding rock of all political decision. We are seeing the fall out of a cynical campaign to prevent those questions from being asked and answered. Do you think there are $4 million dollars of public funds on the table right now, with much more pending?
Thanks for doing your job like a pro. Sometimes what reporters get instead of a good salary is the power and opportunity to right a wrong.
San Juan Island
To the Editor:
I’m sure we all can agree to use common sense on selecting a site for a long-term solution to San Juan Island’s Solid Waste needs, and so to use tax-payers money wisely. It’s just not logical to spend much money on a temporary solution, when there are better alternatives.
At a recent meeting between the County Council, Public Works and the DOE, it was suggested by a councilman that an interim solution to our solid waste needs would be to bring the current site into compliance with DOE and then incorporate those improvements as part of the final transfer station. This clearly would be a waste of money.
You cannot operate the current facility and build a new transfer station at the same time in the same place. After great expense to bring the worn out infrastructure into compliance, you would have to shut it down and tear most of it down while you built the new facility. In the meantime there would need to be another interim solution.
The entire site needs to be reconfigured. The current site is constrained by landfills and monitoring wells and there is inadequate queuing room for traffic. To build a full facility, most likely will involve having to use the land where the current site is located and more rocky property down slope.
An interim structure over the tipping floor will not be adequate for reuse in the final design because A. the current size of the tipping floor is inadequate B. The tipping floor will be in another location. C. plans state that the structure will be fully enclosed.
In addition, bringing the site into compliance for a temporary solution will increase waiting times as new safety standards will need to be adhered to. Functionality will be decreased, noise issues will not be addressed, nor will vectors, you will have achieved none of your long-term goals.
On another site you can begin construction of a fully compliant, environmentally sound transfer station as soon as funding is available. You can continue to run the Sutton Rd. site as a drop box facility without spending a lot of money there. A small county-wide parcel tax to pay for infrastructure, is the realistic way to raise capitol to pay for a bond. Trying to fund what we need with tipping fees alone is why the system is currently broken.
To date, analysis shows the Sutton site is replete with problems. It’s virtually a certainty that more problems will be discovered.
Hillview Terrace III Homeowners Association
To the Editor:
The Hillview Terrace neighborhood has become a living example of Dr. Seuss’ “Horton Hears a Who”. As we sit atop Friday Harbor, yelling silently that the Sutton Road transfer site is deeply affecting us and is profoundly flawed. We are unable to compete with the politician’s jockeying for office and bias SWAC members sacrificing our neighborhood and the future of the island for their special interests. Our voices have been soft and civilized, we have amassed facts, attended years of meetings and engaged in investigative dialogs. Yet, this important decision seems to be falling into the hands of political pressure and what may appear to be an expedite decision, violates and demeans the inevitable growth on this island.
What was started as an important educated process in the SWAC meetings, regarding finding an appropriate, safe future oriented site has become a coliseum battleground. Mary WilAllen’s letter factually describes the serious flaws regarding the current Sutton Road site. These include enormous increase in noise; storm water run off being unattended to and does not meet state requirements, trees are dying at an alarming rate opening large vistas to the transfer site. The site is too small and the parcels available to expand the site are zoned agricultural and would need to be changed, which would then set an uncomfortable precedent of vulnerability for agricultural lands and future zoning. We have a land fill that has not been properly attended too. The unknowns of this land fill and the future handling of this land fill alone; make continuing the Sutton Road site untenable at best. .
But for politicians and members of the community to say Hillview Terrace neighborhood is “fine” with the Sutton Road site staying where it is and we’re not affected by it, is a complete blindness to our existence and we are not fine with it. We just haven’t threatened to sue or storm around in public, lying about issues to get elected to office or bad mouth people. So it appears that if you choose to behave civilly, you don’t exist. Unfortunately the bottom line to the outcome of where a transfer station should be located and how it will affect the future generation of this island at which point the short sited people making this decision will not be around to be accountable for their personal agendas. Discussions in the last meeting of individuals with private agendas of “not in our back yard” does not make it right to leave it in ours. I am willing to be the “Horton” of this island and I hear the cries of the Hillview Terrace neighborhood and “WE ARE HERE, WE ARE HERE, WE ARE HERE”.
Hillview Terrace Resident