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Letter: Let’s open McNeil Island to development

I keep reading about the state’s financial problems. Tax collections are down! Retail sales have diminished because people are worried about their financial future. Housing prices have plummeted even though property tax valuations remain relatively high.

Our government keeps claiming we can’t reduce spending any more because we are cutting into the programs that support many people. We have to spend money on roads and bridges and parks and police and fire and all the other aspects of government.

But, even as bureaucrats call for more spending and tax collections, I’ve heard very little on how to bring in new revenue without raising taxes or enacting new ones.

From my home in Steilacoom I have an excellent view of McNeil Island and the corrections center located there, which, I have read the Department of Corrections wants to close because of the cost of operation.

Whether the facility is closed or not I suggest the state offer to sub-divide the island, reserving adequate space for the corrections center, and sell the property for residential development. The island is about 6.6 square miles and the corrections center only occupies a relatively small area. A bridge could be built from the island to the peninsula and that would provide backup for a ferry operation.

Would the property bring in much money? I think it would bring in a lot of money from the original land sales, sales tax on construction supplies, jobs for building the infrastructure, bridge construction, and many other features.

The property was originally purchased by the federal government so I feel relatively sure that any restrictions on the sale of the land or transfer of title could be figured out, just as it was when the federal prison closed and the property was turned over to the state.

Consider it …. McNeil Island is the largest piece of real estate in Western Washington with the potential for development and it is owned by the state. It has views that are out of this world from all sides and construction will not require displacing anyone or anything.

It seems to me the state’s deficit could be eliminated in pretty short order with careful planning and development of this jewel in the South Sound.

Dave Sclair

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