By David Anderson, Tillicum
When it is clear that our voice matters not; when our protests fall on deaf ears; when we are led to believe “mounting community opposition” may well have an influence on the outcome but, as it turns out, the resounding vocal and written opposition affects the decision minimally if at all, then voicing our values for the three minutes allowed at City Hall – let alone the over five hours accumulated by 100 citizens at that same microphone; or hundreds of pages of complaint; or 520 signatures on a petition, while continuing to believe our elected representatives will indeed represent the electorate – is as futile as using a sieve for an umbrella.
Protection from the elements becomes both certainly questionable and, were it not for getting soaked, comical as well.
This past February 21st, Lakewood City Councilman Walter Neary wrote an article entitled “The Year Lakewood Found A Voice.” Neary opined, “There’s a city to participate and advocate on behalf of the citizens – that’s the only ‘win’ we can count on, and it’s a big one.”
“Advocating” on behalf of Tillicum, and specifically referencing the gate relocation issue, Neary complained, “Camp Murray decided they knew what was good for Lakewood and demanded Lakewood authorize a particular new route into the facility. On behalf of the people of Tillicum – as well as the need to plan appropriately for all the people who drive I-5 – our city demanded proper planning.”
“Advocating” for Tillicum, the City wrung from Camp Murray’s financial bucket $1.2 million dollars worth of impositions – the city calls them ‘mitigations’ – among them: directional arrows, speed bumps, a $360,000 roundabout, an increase of 900 cars daily on neighborhood surface streets, and decreased property values.
‘Appropriate’ planning for all 60,000 people who daily drive (park) on I-5 means these folks behind the wheel will look to the City’s “advocacy” as it in turn wheels-and-deals with the Washington Department of Transportation (WSDOT) which, given recent history, is not unlike going to a mid-summer baby shower only to be caught in a dead-of-winter torrential downpour.
According to Senators Mike Carrell and Randi Becker, WSDOT says it won’t be able to deal with I-5’s problems for 20 years, at which time this express-way would serve better as a drive-thru espresso given it will then be an estimated 50% over capacity.
WSDOT says it doesn’t have the money to deal with I-5. WSDOT says it wants to bring high speed rail through town. Lakewood says it doesn’t want WSDOT bringing high speed rail through town. WSDOT, with regards its train set – not unlike Camp Murray whose gate is now set – will not only not play fair, WSODT also says, ‘it’s not a matter of if but when.’ Lakewood’s Assistant City Manager Dave Bugher, who is also charged with the responsibility for community development – ironically enough – says WSDOT is not listening to Lakewood’s complaints.
So while Lakewood “advocates” and WSDOT obfuscates, Tillicum contemplates its future – its western border to be clogged – like a backed up sewer – with Camp Murray traffic, and its eastern border similarly to be flooded with trains.
Because though Tillicum residents spoke resoundingly, Lakewood overruled emphatically, as per one of the headlines announcing what “advocacy” means to the City: Lakewood overrules neighbors, permits Camp Murray gate move.
Because though Lakewood passed a resolution opposing WSDOT – complaining loudly – there’s nobody to hear above the roar of the impending Amtrak tsunami.
“Lakewood cannot claim all the credit,” Neary wrote in one-part reference to Camp Murray, the other part to WSDOT, “but Lakewood was at the center of the effort (storm) dealing with governments much vaster than a government of a city of 60,000. Not bad.”